Published: Thursday, 21 July 2016 11:44

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Minister of Health and Sanitation, Dr. Abu Bakarr Fofanah has called on all Sierra Leoneans to repose trust in the country’s medical practitioners and hospitals, “especially Connaught Hospital.”

He said that the greatest asset that any country can have is its human resources, poking that even if a country does not have gold, bauxite, rutile, diamond etc., but if that country has a well-educated and well trained work force, that country can still develop.

He alluded to countries around the world that do not have the resources that “we have but because they can boast of an enlightened workforce, they have better per capital income and standards of living.”

It is along these lines that the Minister said he was specifically instructed by His Excellency the President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma to prioritize medical education, particularly at the specialist level, as soon as he assumed office to again begin to build up the critical mass of medical specialists that is fast fading away in the country.

“It could be recalled that the House of Parliament early this year passed two Bills into Acts. These are the Teaching Hospitals Act (2016) and the Council for the Postgraduate Colleges of Health Specialties Act (2016). These developments are a direct response to His Excellency’s directives,” Said the Minister.

One of the objectives of the first Act is to establish a formal nexus between the College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences (COMAHS) and by extension the University of Sierra Leone (USL) and the Tertiary Hospitals (Connaught, Ola During, Jui, Kissy Psychiatric, Lakka, and the Princess Christian Maternity Hospitals). “This nexus,” the Minister said, “is crucial because it opens the way for the transformation of these hospitals from service hospitals to teaching hospitals.”

Dr. Fofanah enlightened: “Teaching hospitals differ from ‘normal’ service hospitals in that, teaching hospitals have a greater commitment to teaching and learning, student discipline is more rigorously enforced, the range of clinical services offered in the teaching hospital are wider; the quality is better. The administrative set up of the teaching hospital is also different from that of a service hospital which is what Connaught has been. The objective of the latter Act is to establish a local specialist medical training institution to address in a sustainable way, the issue of paucity of specialist medical doctors in the country which has reached epidemic crisis.”

Owing to the tremendous amount of efforts that have been put by the Ministry of Health and Sanitation into the areas of infrastructure, equipment and human resources to lift the profile of these hospitals to befit their status as Teaching Hospitals, the accreditation team has given them the go- ahead to commence specialist training.

The Minister of Health and Sanitation catalogued the major disadvantages of having to rely on the good will of foreign countries to build up the country’s medical workforce and predicted a pending atmosphere of doom for “our health system if the efforts of His Excellency Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma in building a strong and resilient health system are not complemented.”

Source: Awareness Times newspaper Tuesday 19 July 2016: