As specialist medical training takes hold; International Physicians Visit Sierra Leone


The visiting team includes Professor Abel Nze Onunu, a consultant Dermatologist and Head of the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital in Edo State, Benin City, Nigeria, Dr Bernard Nkum, a consultant cardiologist from the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi, Ghana and Dr Maclean Akpa, a consultant cardiologist from the University of Port Harcourt in Nigeria.

Accompanying the visiting team were, Dr Nemata Marjex-Walker who is the Chair of the Teaching Hospital Board, the Chief Medical Director Professor Jesse Otegbayo, the Deputy Chief Medical Director Dr Gibril Fadlu-Deen and the Chairman of the Council for the Postgraduate Colleges of Health Specialties Professor D.R. Lisk. The Chief Medical Officer Dr Brima Kargbo was also at hand with the Minister.

Addressing the visiting team, The Minister of Health and Sanitation Dr Abu Bakarr Fofanah thanked the West African Postgraduate Medical College (WAPCMC) as a whole for the keen interest the college has taken in ensuring postgraduate medical training become a reality in Sierra Leone. The Minister expressed special gratitude to the West African College of Physicians (WACP) for their good will in even footing the cost of the accreditation visit. This is unprecedented. Institutions seeking accreditation usually bear the cost of the accreditation visit. But for us it is the reverse. We cannot express in words how much we appreciate this good will gesture from the college, the Minister said.

The Minister gave the visiting team a rundown of the history of medical education in Sierra Leone including the huddles that had to be overcome to get to this stage. He highlighted the key success of the initiative including the passing if the Teaching Hospital Act last year, the setting up of the Board, the recruitment of key technical staff including the Chief Medical Director, the procurement of additional equipment that is underway and the commencement of residency training in surgery with three residents. These are all positive steps said the minister.

The Minister said if the department of medicine passes the accreditation test, this will bring to three the total number of departments accredited for training. This will leave only one major department that is Obstetrics and Gynecology. He expressed optimism that in the not too distant future Sierra Leone will begin to produce its own locally trained specialists and consultants in the same way we are now producing our undergraduate doctors.

The Minister used the visit to underscore the point that the training that residents will be receiving in Sierra Leone is not inferior to that anywhere in the sub region in the same way our undergraduates doctors are not inferior to their colleagues in the sub region. He said the whole essence of accreditation is to ensure that at least the minimum standards are met. By giving us the nod to train our specialists locally, it means we have met at least the minimum standards for training. He thanked the WACP for waving the requirement for Sierra Leonean doctors to pass the primaries before they can enter the residency. He said he hoped that our young doctors would take advantage of all these goodies for their own advancement and don’t waste their precious time in waiting for scholarships to go abroad.