A total of 42 new doctors comprising 18 females and 24 males were at the weekend inducted into the medical profession after the completion of their studies at the School of Medical Sciences (SMS) of the University of Cape Coast (UCC).
They were awarded Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MB ChB) degrees after pursuing a six-year programme at the university.
This brings to 130 the number of medical doctors produced by the school since its inception in 2008.
The school started its official academic work in 2008 with emphasis on Community Based Experience and Services (COBES) to make students appreciate health and other problems pertaining to the local communities.
The President, John Dramani Mahama, in his address read on his behalf by the Minister of Education, Professor Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang at the 48th congregation and 3rd oath swearing/induction ceremony, observed that the health sector was confronted with a number of challenges.
“Key among these challenges is the huge gap between the doctor-patient ratio,” he said, and reiterated the government’s commitment in supporting training institutions to help to bridge the gap, as well as resolve other challenges.
“The graduation today of 42 young doctors is therefore encouraging since it will go a long way to shore up the doctor-patient ratio,” he indicated.
In addition, he said the “government is very much committed to finding innovative ways to resolve the challenges confronting the health sector.”
President Mahama admonished the young doctors to be guided by the oath which they had sworn, saying, “remember that in all things it is your resoluteness, dedication, love for your country and trust in God that will see you through.”
The Vice Chancellor of UCC, Professor D. D. Kuupole, in his address, explained that the limited space at the Cape Coast Teaching Hospital had hindered an increase in the enrolment into the medical school.
“As a result of this, the university had to seek permission and authorisation from the Ministry of Health and the Ghana Health Service to use the Effia Nkwanta Hospital in the Western Region as a new teaching site for the university,” he said.
The Ghana Health Service and the Ministry of Health, he said, have agreed and given approval for the facility to be used as a teaching hospital for the UCC School of Medical Sciences, adding that, “when the use becomes operationalised, we hope to expand admission of students into the programmes of the medical school.”
Prof Kuupole further said that the School had begun the process of collaborating with the University of Sydney Medical School in Australia in the area of medical education and research.
In addition, he announced that the Academic Board has given approval for the College of Health and Allied Sciences to run six new programmes consisting Bachelor of Science in Physician Assistant, clinical nutrition and dietetics, sports sciences, health information management, diagnostic medical sonography and diagnostic imaging technology.
“The College has started the process of obtaining accreditation from the National Accreditation Board and other relevant professional bodies to run the programmes and we are hopeful that these programmes would be mounted in the 2016/2017 academic year,” he stated.
“The Academic Board has also given approval for the Department of Microbiology to commence a Master of Philosophy programme in Infection and Immunology. A team from the National Accreditation Board has already paid a visit to the Department to assess the programme for accreditation,” he explained.
Additionally, the Vice Chancellor disclosed that the School of Medical Sciences was in the process of setting up a cardio-intervention centre in Cape Coast
Touching on the impasse over the condition of service for doctors which has currently resulted in a nationwide strike, Prof. Kuupole hoped that “all issues related to the conditions of service of doctors shall be resolved very soon in order to make it unnecessary for you to embark on any strike action but stand firm by the Hippocratic Oath you take.”
The Chairman of the University of Cape Coast Governing Council, Nana Sam Brew Butler, in his remarks, explained that the ceremony was an indication that there was still hope and continuity in spite of all the challenges, saying, “UCC is happy to be contributing to the dire national need to address the problem of the shortfall of health professionals, especially, medical doctors in the country”.
From David O.Yarboi-Tetteh, Cape Coast