President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has tasked the West African College of Physicians (WACP) to initiate measures to decentralize post-graduate medical education in West Africa to boost the number of specialists in the region.
He said that consideration would shore up the dearth of specialists required to provide high-quality health for the people of the region, as well as address the issue of the brain drain of doctors from West Africa.
The AGSM which is being held under the theme: “Health and Wellbeing Amidst a Prolonged Pandemic: Implications for Physicians and Patients,” would deliberate on health and health-related matters affecting the region during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The conference will reflect on the lessons learned during the pandemic from various specialties, explore patient perspectives, discuss health system-level challenges and policy implications, and examine the role of telehealth in medical practice and education.
President Akufo-Addo told the gathering that doctors produced by the College remained the toast of most advanced countries, attesting to the quality of post- graduate doctors who got trained by WACP.
“I cannot ask you to lower your standards, but is it possible to train more and possibly expand your sub-speciality training to cover more areas such as intensive care doctors?
The President noted that the centralized nature of the training required doctors to move from the districts and regions to the few teaching hospitals, many of whom had to struggle with accommodation, separation from their families and in some instances, relocation of their whole families.
“This has been a huge disservice ridding the regions and districts of trained doctors and specialists and worsening the already huge disparity in the rural-urban distribution of doctors.
“It is my plea that as you deliberate on these implications, you fashion out ways to decentralize training of medical doctors, not only at the undergraduate level but also at the post-graduate level,” he urged.
Applauding the immense support West Africa’s medical fraternity rendered pre and post-COVID-19,
President Akufo-Addo said it was time for frank discussions to consolidate the lesson learnt from the pandemic.
With the world still striving to unravel the true effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, he said no one needed to be told to about what it had done to the global economy, whilst research was still ongoing to find out the long-term effect of the virus on the huma body.
“The time has come for us to begin the consolidation of the lessons laid bare by COVID-19,” he said.
The President stated that the most obvious awakening from the pandemic was the need for Africa to command her pride of place in vaccine production.
He reiterated his administration’s commitment to seeing to the success of the pan-African initiative for domestic vaccine manufacturing in Ghana.
To that end, he indicated that Ghana was working closely with the private sector and other African partners to become a vaccine manufacturing hub in Africa for Africans.
“Our goal is to produce domestically vaccines by the first quarter of 2024,” he said.
The President was later conferred with an honorary fellowship of the College for his sterling leadership and the measures he put in place to deal with the threat of COVID-19 both in Ghana and in the region.