Foreign Trained Doctors Need Retraining

The Dean of the School of Medicine Professor Peter Nyarongo says foreign graduates will require “intense re-training”.

He says new doctors must be able to diagnose diseases affecting “our people here and not rare conditions or diseases that are only commonly found in Europe, China or the Americas.”

“Most will have excellent theoretical knowledge of medicine but lack fundamental grasp of the diseases that they will encounter on their first day at the ward or clinic. Usually, most of them obtain this further training during the two-year internship but many will require intense re-training,” he said on his expectations of Namibian students trained to become doctors in other countries.

New Era last Wednesday broke a story about Namibian students enrolled to study medicine in China despite attaining less than 10 points, which is way below the minimum prescribed 35 entry point level.

Some of the students who enrolled for medicine attained low symbols such as G, which translates into two points and E, which translates into three points, according to evidence seen by New Era.

Most Chinese universities teach Chinese medicine and by way of comparing their curriculum with the Namibian course as administered by the Health Professions Council, this causes a disconnection.

Against this, Nyarango said like every product manufactured outside it needs to be tropicalised, adding that such students will need additional hands-on experience to become proficient clinicians in treating Namibian patients.

“The doctor must be able and willing to live and work where most of the Namibians live (not in the cities or towns) – even hard to reach parts of the country. Invariably to produce this kind of doctor, the doctor should be trained in Namibia or in the neighbourhood. The entrance into this curriculum cannot be less than what Unam has prescribed or be shorter than 5 years (Unam prescribes a minimum 5 years and a maximum 7 years),” Nyarango explained.

He however stated the School of Medicine is very strict when it comes to admitting students.

For a candidate to be admitted at the School of Medicine, he or she must be in possession of a Grade 12 Namibia Senior Secondary Certificate (NSSC) with at least 35 points from 5 subjects.

Equivalent grades may include persons with a Bachelor Degree in Science.

In addition, he explained, there are critical subjects such as mathematics, biology, physical science and English in which Unam requirements specify a minimum grade B.

“This is stringent and highly competitive,” he noted.

When asked whether the Unam School of Medicine has sufficient capacity to observe all school leavers that want to do medicine and meet the minimum requirements, he said Unam obtains more than an adequate number of Namibians who meet the requirements from all the regions.

As of 2014, he added, Unam has more than sufficient capacity to train the number the school is designed for (annual intake of 100 students).

“Of course if push came to shove and there was a need, then like it happens in other countries of the world, Unam could run more than one session thus increasing this capacity substantially.

“We are not yet having to run more than two sessions or night sessions to cope with the numbers for the pre-clinical years.

“This capacity encompasses human resources which are professors and lecturers,” he maintained.

He reiterated that the Unam School of Medicine still struggles with respect to human resources such as clinical professors and lecturers as well as a shortage of medical specialists.

He says there is a need for government to inject additional resources to pull in more clinical teachers from internal sources and from other countries – at least for the medium term, and to enable the Ministry of Health and Social Services to renovate some of the dilapidated facilities as well as hire more doctors and nurses.

Regarding the Namibia Student Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF) policy which states it only funds students who wish to study abroad with a minimum 35 points, Nyarango said one would have to conclude that for the expected returns one should be selective.

“What is the best way of investing public funds? What will give best returns on investment?

“Does NSFAF have surplus funds or are students fighting for the limited cake? I am convinced that NSFAF has a valid case to ensure that all or most of the students going outside will return as qualified doctors in the allocated time.

“If one is talking of public funds then one has to make a choice,” he said.

Source : New Era