A data compiled by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on the health status of 224 nations around the world, has ranked Ghana 165th in infant mortality.
The country scored an infant mortality rate of 37.37 in the study conducted this year, to assess the number of infant deaths per 1,000 live births.
An Associate Professor of Paediatrics, Professor Mark Awuku, announced this when he delivered the keynote address at the Medical Knowledge Fiesta 2016 in Accra yesterday.
He said infant mortality was an important indicator of the health of a nation because it was associated with a variety of factors such as maternal health, quality and access to medical care, socio economic conditions and public health practices.
“Improving these statistics depends on a lot of factors including health planning and provision of care by competent physicians working as a team supporting each other and respecting everyone they work with,” he said.
Prof. Awuku, a Canada based medical practitioner, stressed the need to modify the training of health personnel to meet the demands of modern times.
“The way medicine is taught has remained the same for more than 100 years but since that time almost everything and society has changed. Our needs have changed and it is time for us to seriously look at how medical students are trained to ensure appropriate acquisition of competencies required to practise medicine,” he said.
According to him, the challenges in healthcare training were in the areas of assessment tools, lack of clear teaching pathways, culture of failure to fail, and medical students and residents unaware of the objectives in, the programmes.
“Some teachers teach according to what they are interested in instead of following the curriculum and the needs of the trainee,” he said, and added that the final years of medical training also saw students buried in books instead of working on their practical skills.
“Society wants high quality health services provided by health professionals who are competent and this is key when it comes to a healthy nation,” he said.
Prof Awuku advised medical practitioners to strive to be competent, indicating that the fact that they had been licensed to practice did not necessarily mean they were competent.
“Competency is the combination of knowledge, skills, attitudes and values. These attributes lead to a successful professional performance,” he observed.
He explained that being an expert in the medical specialty was very important but was not enough to become a competent physician.
He described a competent physician as a person who was an expert in medicine, a communicator, collaborator, leader, health advocate, scholar, and a professional.
A former Provost at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, Prof. Yao Tettey, stressed the need to reform the curricular in the medical schools to adequately prepare the students before they enter the mainstream medical practice.
He said it was important to teach students communication skills to enable them communicate well with patients and added that effective communication with patients was critical in becoming a good medical practitioner.
By Yaw Kyei