4 February 2014

Namibia: Three-Week Probe Into School of Medicine

Windhoek — The probe into the operations and management of the University of Namibia's School of Medicine started last week already and would take three weeks to complete.

The terms of reference include a review of the legal framework, which established the School of Medicine; the governance, administration and management structure of the school; a review of the faculty of health sciences with the objective to recommend two structures, one for clinical training and another for academic training. At the ned of the probe it is also expected that the adminstration would ensure that a continuous assessment programme on the capacity of trainers; student ratio per trainer and training facilities are in place. Heading the investigation is a senior management level technical committee.

The investigation follows recent media reports regarding concerns raised by some medical specialists and practitioners, as well as students pertaining to the medical education and training programmes of the school of medicine. Amongst others it was reported that several government hospitals and private institutions are refusing to take in interns from the school of medicine, because of poor quality training and allegations that some students could hardly remember the basics of most of their courses.

The technical committee comprises of officials of the Ministry of Health and Social services led by that ministry's Permanent Secretary, Andrew Ndishishi, officials of the Ministry of Education, led by Permanent Secretary Alfred Ilukena and a team from Unam led by the Pro-Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Research Professor Osmund Mwandemele. The technical committee is consulting and interviewing as many stakeholders as possible, including the Health Professions Council of Namibia, the Namibia Qualifications Authority, health officials at training facilities, as well as medical specialists and practitioners. Ilukena said what was cited in the media only remains allegations until the outcome of the probe is made known. "Those are allegations unless we go through the curriculum. Everyone is free to say whatever they want until we find out. While the technical committee will be doing its work, we are pleased to reassure the public that clinical education and training of fifth year students of the School of medicine has resumed at the designated teaching hospitals in Windhoek and in the north of the country," Ilukena said.

After the completion of the investigation, a comprehensive report with very clear recommendations would be compiled and submitted to government for advice and action, said Ilukena. "Once the government has adopted and approved the report, the committee will revert back to the public informing them about the recommendations of the report and implementation strategy," said Ilukena.

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