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Busitema medical school found wanting

By Carol Natukunda

Added 31st July 2019 12:35 PM

The first batch of the 47 medicine students graduated in October last year. Currently, there are over 100 students pursuing health science disciplines.

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The first batch of the 47 medicine students graduated in October last year. Currently, there are over 100 students pursuing health science disciplines.

 
The training of medical doctors at Busitema University is under the spot after it emerged that students are receiving inadequate practical lessons.
 
Started in 2007, the university is, among other programmes, running three bachelors’ degrees in medicine and surgery, nursing sciences and anesthesia. It also has three science master’s degree programmes namely; internal medicine, pediatrics, and public health. The first batch of the 47 medicine students graduated in October last year. Currently, there are over 100 students pursuing health science disciplines.
 
However, a May 6, 2019 inspection report by the Uganda Medical and Dental Practitioners Council and the National Council for Higher Education shows glaring gaps in medical training, at the young public institution in Eastern Uganda.
 
The report revealed that practicals in anatomy are a luxury as students lack enough space for cadavers (bodies).
 
“The anatomy laboratory is small and sometimes up to 20 students are allocated to a Cadaver,” the report said.
 
It further disclosed that there is a lack of equipment to run key labs in biochemistry and pharmacology casting doubt on the quality of medical graduates from Busitema.
 
In the report, the students told inspectors that they were receiving lessons online.
 
“Students do not do physiology and biochemistry practical but watch these on the video screen,” the report stated.
 
The overall staffing at the University’s medical school stands at only 22%. Most of the staff was found to be part-time lecturers, while the heads of departments were in acting position and without a master’s degree. This is contrary to the higher education standards that one must be a Ph.D. holder to head a department.
 
“Some course coordinators are excellent but some are disappointing. Some tutors were not conversant with certain topics but are required to conduct tutorial in it,” the students are quoted to have said.
 
ACADEMIC STAFF
 
The teaching staff attributed the problems to the administration saying they were frustrating the system.
 
They cited a lack of facilitation for staff; and allowances for hospital teaching staff as some of the issues affecting standards.
 
“The technical persons who were the end-users of the equipment are not involved in the procurement process. Consequently, some of the equipment procured for the departments are sometimes substandard,” the report reads in part.
 
Against this background, the medical council has directed the university to address the staffing and laboratory shortages before the new batch of students are admitted for the academic year 2019/2020, in September.
 
WHAT STAKEHOLDERS SPEAK OUT
 
Prof. Joel Okullo, the chairperson of the council, cautioned against increasing the intake of students without a corresponding increase in the resources needed to run the coveted programmes.
 
Prof. Julius Wandabwa, the dean of the health sciences faculty, told the inspectors that infrastructure development was underway. He attributed staff shortages to a limited wage bill, which he said had caused an exodus of many staff.  

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