Medical School Not Accredited

THE Health Professional Council of Namibia has aised that the University of Namibia School of Medicine should not be accredited until the institution meets some of the requirements recommended by an inspection committee in August this year.

Namibia was supposed to produce its first locally trained medical doctors in May next year, but this is unlikely to happen after the HPCN’s findings that the medical school has not done anything to address the recommendations made by an inspection team in March last year.

The graduation of the 49 students doing their fifth year will have to be postponed to 2016 if the health profession watchdog gets its way.

The first inspection related to the quality of education, tuition and training of the students, while the second was to determine if the recommendations had been implemented or were being complied with by the medical school.

One of the major recommendations was that the students studying Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery should graduate after spending six years in college instead of the current five.

“The current fifth year students must do an additional one year student internship before they may apply for registration as medical practitioners with the HPCNA,” the report recommended.

Other recommendations that were not acted upon since the first inspection, include the admission criteria for potential students and the inclusion of the Ministry of Health and Social Services, Ministry of Education, the Health Professionals Council and the National Planning Commission in the selection process.

The report says even though the curriculum is “solid and will produce competent medical practitioners,” the troubles at the medical school since it opened had necessitated further remedies to ensure quality graduates.

One such challenge is the critical shortage of human resources and the initial plan to enrol 100 students per year instead of the recommended 50.

The report further states that the current admission committee is dominated by staff members, with only one member of the public nominated by the office of the vice chancellor.

Medical students are also seen as ‘observers’ during teaching sessions at the health ministry departments according to the report, because staff members have little understanding of the curriculum.

The absence of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Unam, the health ministry and that of education was mentioned in the report as one of the reasons for the current “unsatisfactory situation” at the school of medicine.

The report also blamed the school of medicine for providing a list of staff members who moved on as part of the management team and for giving titles such as specialists while they were just medical officers who did not do any teaching.

Chief executive officer of the HPCN Cornelius Weyulu yesterday declined to comment on the report, while the dean of the school, Peter Nyarango, confirmed to The Namibian that there was a re-inspection but said he had not yet received the report.

He, however, said the decision to add an extra year to the current final year students will have to go through the correct structures of the university.

Nyarango admitted that the university is open to discussing the extension but several factors need to be considered such as the availability of lecturers and what exactly the students missed that they need an extra year.

“The proposal has to be soberly debated,” he said yesterday, adding that the inclusion of staff members who were not specialists or who have left the school of medicine, was an error.

“We will look at the recommendations of the report and also weigh the reasons but the bottom line is that there is a lack of doctors in Namibia,” he said.

Nyarango said Namibia currently has 1 100 doctors.

The latest report comes nine months after The Namibian reported that several government hospitals and private institutions refused to take in interns from Unam’s school of medicine, citing poor quality training.

Medical experts wrote to the health ministry’s permanent secretary Andrew Ndishishi, expressing concern over various issues, and setting down preconditions, which should be met before they start working with students from the medical school. Nyarango claimed at that time that some of the experts were unhappy because of the number of doctors the school was expected to pump into the health market.

Source : The Namibian