Sarjo Camara Singateh
The University of The Gambia School of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences on 11 May hosted the opening ceremony of the visit of a delegation from the Islamic Development Bank and Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (IDB/TIKA). The visit relates to reverse linkage funding support and collaboration for capacity building of the UTG School of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences. The ceremony took place at the Medical School Conference Hall at the Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital.
The deputy speaker, Hon Fatou Mbye gave the opening statement. She is the National Assembly select committee chairperson on health, women, children, refugees, disaster and humanitarian relief and also a member of the UTG council. She said in her statement that the school of medicine and allied health sciences, one of the foundation faculties of the University of the Gambia, is mandated to provide a critical mass of trained, qualified and skilled human resource requirements for the health sector. She sighted some of the challenges the school is facing. “However despite the huge investment made and numerous successes and achievements registered, it is evident that the school is grappling with some challenges including the need for a student hostel within proximity of the Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital to facilitate learning and research,” she remarked.
She also stressed the importance of staff quarter which she said is paramount for the same reasons and will also serve as an incentive to motivate and retain staff and make staff more accessible to students at any time during the day.
The acting vice chancellor of the University of The Gambia, Mr. Jenung Manneh said as they seek to transform the school of medicine and allied health sciences it is important that they communicate their plans for an expanded mission and their requirements for success.
He further said that since its inception, the medical school has succeeded in graduating a number of highly trained, capable and talented young men and women who are significantly contributing in the health sector of the country, to enhance the achievement of the cherished objectives of government’s development agenda, as embedded in the programme of Accelerated Growth and Employment (PAGE), and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Vision 2020.
He said the University will need to create new learning communities and spaces in which connectivity is the key to individual development and academic success, and must be at the forefront of development in the process of digital scholarship. The Acting Vice Chancellor noted that the school wishes to expand internal and community medicines, Psychiatry and Pharmacology units. He proceeded to outline a series of challenges that they are confronting. He stated that there is a multidisciplinary laboratory which needs funding for the purchase of equipment.
He said on the department of surgical sciences, teaching staff is required in general surgery and in obstetrics and Gynaecology. He further stated that the department of nursing and reproductive health has constraints such as staff shortage, inadequate space and lack of transport in the clinical areas, and for transporting staff and students, to various educational units and other health care facilities where students gain practical experience.
The deputy permanent secretary technical, Mr. Dawda Ceesay spoke on behalf of the Minister of health and social welfare. He informed the gathering that University is a key supplier of the Health Ministry in terms of Human resources. He said graduates from the university are now employed by the Ministry throughout the length and breath of the country. He also commended the visiting team for their foresight.
A student also expressed concern about lack of hostel and transport for the students, and also some of the issues some students face when they want to go in for post graduate courses outside the country.
During the question and answer session the visiting team noted that they are on a diagnostic trip; that from the discussions they will hold tripartite talks to see how best they could assist, but the Islamic, Turkish will all come up with something and the Gambia government will also come up with a counterpart contribution to make things work.
The team noted that they could not at that point indicate when the projects and programmes will start, but that hopes are high that something positive will happen.
The provost made a presentation of a comprehensive programme for the visitors, hoping that if implemented could make the School of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences excel. Though some of the issues dilated on by the different department heads were similar, they have specific issues that are special to their needs.
The ceremony was chaired by Dr. Kalipha Bojang.