A total of 11 medical graduates from the University of The Gambia (UTG) have been sworn-in as medical doctors after seven years of rigorous medical studies. The swearing-in ceremony was held Tuesday at the Royal Victoria Technical Hospital (RVTH) in Banjul.
Presided over by the vice chancellor of the UTG, Professor Muhammadou MO Kah, the 11 doctors swore to work effectively as doctors according to the Laws of The Gambia. Addressing the newly sworn-in doctors, Professor Kah said the UTG and her medical school is not only the best in Africa but among the best in the world and adequately supply the capacity needs in the health sector which remains to be a strong belief of the chancellor of the UTG and president of the Republic, His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr Yahya Jammeh.
He continued: "As shared with the graduating class of last year and the year before, in 1999, many were skeptical and laughed and ridiculed the idea of the president's resolve to establish the UTG and when he decided to have the School of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences, sceptics continued to laugh and ridicule the idea and suggested that The Gambia cannot as it is a small country without the requisite resources to staff, equip and run a medical school. "The fact that we are here today is unquestionable evidence. Check the records, in 2006, we graduated 11, in 2007, we graduated 12, in 2009, 17, in 2010, we graduated 22, in 2011, we graduated 14 plus today."
Professor Kah further told the gathering that UTG is today established as an evolving world class institution and the pride of the nation, with an excellent medical school albeit continuing challenges, but with a dedicated chancellor, provosts, students, faculty and staff members who are fighting to overcome it.
He used the platform to commend the graduating class and those that came before them for being bold and brave and for their perseverance, saying, "our medical school is not a glitzy - at least not yet... Yes, we need more resources, financial and human resources, better-equipped labs, etc., but behind these walls is a place where practical and high quality learning and delivery of relevant medical education and knowledge relevant to our context is imparted".
The UTG, he went on, has respectable visiting scholars from the best universities across the world who continue to contribute to the delivery of quality education at the medical school as well as very distinguished external examiners who ensure that standards and rigour are maintained and at equivalence with what is expected by regional and global medical bodies.
"We also have very dedicated local medical practitioners who continue to contribute in the teaching of numerous courses and serving as examiners as well. We are very grateful for their services and hope many will continue to contribute to our medical school," he further stated.
Professor Kah assured that the young men and women are equipped with the highest qualities expected of a medical graduate and will do their best to meet the challenges of working in under-served communities even though their quantity is small, given the current needs in the health sector.
He then challenged the medical doctors in The Gambia enhance her facilities, resource, infrastructure and labs and to augment the salaries and incentives of potential and needed full-time medical and health academics and professionals at the UTG. This, he said, will enable UTG to increase enrollment and triple the number and quality of graduates as well as attract more foreign students from the region, as envisioned by President Jammeh.
Dr Adama Sallah, registrar of the Gambia Medical and Dental Council, urged the newly sworn-in doctors to ensure maintaining a high standard of ethics in their work. He said that though money may seem to determine the worth of a person to a large extent in The Gambia of today, they must understand that people, particularly patients expect sympathy, empathy, human concern and a sound technical knowledge from them.
Dr Sallah further reminded the doctors that bad behaviours, poor adherence to the codes of ethics and rules of professional conduct as well as being untruthful about one's competence and not realising one's professional limitations will certainly over time, erode the respect that the public has for the doctor and the profession. While congratulating them and welcoming them onboard, Dr Sallah equally called on the new doctors to remember that all Gambians are looking up to them.