An inspection report by health experts from the East African Community (EAC) condemns three of our newly opened medical schools as not fit for the purpose (See: ‘UCU, Busitema medical schools ordered to close’ in the Daily Monitor, February 25).
The same report implicates Gulu University Medical School and orders Makerere University not to teach the dentistry course, unless its facilities are improved. The findings also orders Uganda Christian University, St Augustine University, Busitema, Gulu, and Makerere to stop their current students and send them to other universities with good infrastructure until they set up the required facilities to teach medical and dentistry courses.
This EAC-wide assessment report is not good for our country, once reputed as the centre of excellence for medical education in the region. Simply put, some of our medical and dentistry schools have been rated below the bar of peer medical and dental schools in the EAC. This verdict by health experts implies our institutions have no stamp of quality assurance from the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE), the regulator of higher education.
These doubts also erode public trust in our universities and the doctors and dentists they train.
The lapses risk rendering our medical academic certificates as not fit for seeking employment or pursuing advanced studies at home or abroad.
As the experts have warned, upon completion, our medical and dental graduates shall carry the badge of mediocrity and considered both incompetent and unrecognised within the EAC partner States.
On a wider scale, the damning report questions the quality of our graduates and future workforce for the common and competitive job market in East Africa, Africa, and globally. But where, in all this has NCHE been as our higher education standards bearer, and the Uganda Medical and Dental Practitioners Council?
These lapses imply NCHE, in collaboration with UMDPC, has failed on its mandate of stamping accreditation, endorsing quality assurance, and routinely auditing our medical and dentistry course structure; content, staffing, teaching, learning environment of both new and existing medical and dental Schools to meet our national and EAC benchmarks.
For remedy, NCHE needs to act fast to stamp its authority and ensure the affected institutions put in place the requisite laboratory tools, staffing, and basics such as sinks for handwashing, floor drainage system, fire safety precaution, proper dissection tables, and receipts, storage, and disposal of cadavers.
These quick measures should meet and comply with demands of the 3rd Joint Inspection of New and Existing Medical and Dental Schools by EAC Partner States National Medical and Dental Practitioners Regulatory Council and restore public trust in our medical and dental schools.
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