By Vision Reporter and agencies
A three-day regional meeting on medical training is underway in Brazzaville Congo. Organized by the World Health Organization (WHO), the meeting seeks to find ways of improving the quality of medical education and training on the continent.
In his opening remarks, the WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Luis Sambo, pointed out that progress made by some countries in the Region towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals was being constrained by health systems challenges including the shortage of well-trained health workers.
Sub-Saharan Africa has an estimated 24% of the global burden of disease. Ye it has only 3% of the world's health workers. While the need for health care in the Region has increased, the availability of health workers either stagnated or declined.
“Of the 47 countries in the WHO African Region, 22% are actually having a declining density of core health worker namely doctors, nurses and midwives”, said Dr Sambo.
He called on delegates to come forward with concrete suggestions on how best to scale up the quantity and quality of Africa's medical graduates taking into account Africa's unique disease context, public health threats, and underlying cultural, social and economic needs.
“A key challenge that I hope we can start to address with practical suggestions is the professional development, motivation and retention of medical educators and trainers in Africa,” he added.
In her remarks, Dr Margaret Mungherera, President of the World Medical Association disclosed that the body had embarked on a five-year capacity building programme for African national medical associations to enable them play a more effective role in strengthening na-tional health systems.
Referring to the quality of medical education, she said: “The responsibility of ensuring that medicine is of the highest possible standards must be shared between the profession, training institutions and the government. And all doctors have a responsibility to themselves, the profession and their patients to obtain medical education that is of the highest possible standard”.
Dr Mungherera noted that the clinical component of medical education should not be restricted to biological and behavioral sciences but must also address the socio-economics of health care. In addition, there should be firm grounding in the ethical and human rights principles and re-search methodology.
She also stressed the importance selecting trainees for medical education on the basis of not only on intellectual abilities but also on motivation, character and integrity.
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