Dr Sam Esson Jonah, (KBE), Chancellor of the University Of Cape Coast (UCC), has said Ghana should seek significant private investments for the training of doctors to meet the health needs of the country.
The Chancellor expressed concern about the low level of private sector participation in medical education, saying Ghana, through its investment promotion drive, should market itself as a medical excellence centre in West Africa.
In line with this, it should provide all the necessary incentives to attract private capital and participation similar to that for the mainstream universities.
The Chancellor made the call at the Second Oath Swearing and Induction ceremony of the University’s School of Medical Sciences (SMS) over the weekend.
Forty-six students who successfully completed a six-year programme in Medicine and Surgery (MB ChB) graduated.
Dr Jonah said because of the in-take limits at the few medical schools in the country, many students with good grades are compelled to attend medical schools abroad, thus resulting in an unimpressive statistics in that area.
He said Cuba, with a population of 11.2 million, had 25 medical schools, and produced 11,000 doctors, annually, so life expectancy there was relatively higher than in Ghana.
“Further investment is required and we cannot expect the Government to do it on its own,” he explained.
Dr Jonah recommended that the country took full advantage of technology to deal with the challenges of real access to doctors, saying, that remote health centres could have access to the best of doctors via video links.
He said the statistics of patient – doctor ratio may not tell the true picture if the concentration of doctors in certain geological areas were extremely, while access was almost impossible in other areas.
Dr Jonah said the proximity or real access to doctors was extremely important and technology was the solution in Ghana, and Africa, generally.
He, however, commended the management and staff of the University for the high level of professionalism and maturity displayed in the discharge of their duties and urged the graduating students to strengthen the healthcare system through research, public health, and patient care.
Ghana has five medical schools; The doctor-patient ratio is about one doctor to 15,259 patients, annually.
Physician assistants also see about 38, 000, patients in a year, while midwives and nurses attend to about 6,000 and 1,400 patients respectively.
Professor Nana Jane Opoku Agyeman, Minister of Education, also complained about the low doctor- patient ratio and emphasized the need to create more avenues to mitigate the situation because Ghana needed more doctors.
She, therefore, tasked the medical schools to be innovative and train and certify many doctors to increase the number of medical practitioners.
Prof. Opoku Agyeman reiterated the Government’s commitment to supporting UCC-SMS and similar institutions to realise their highest potentials and called for collaborative efforts to bridge the doctor-patient ratio.
The Minister urged the doctors to journey the path of excellence, which she said, laid before them with humility, determination, ethical conduct, hard work, dedication and genuine concern for the vulnerable.
“You are medical doctors today by choice and it is, therefore, expected that your attitude and posture will at all times radiate positively on your staff and most importantly, your patients,” she said.
The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Domwini D. Kuupole, said to increase the intake of students, the university had plans of opening more clinical training sites in other parts of the country.
It would also develop more residential facilities for students and recruit more personnel to boost staff strength.
He said the College Of Health and Allied Sciences had plans of bringing on board the Department of Optometry and Laboratory Technology, Biomedical and Forensic Science and a Dentistry programme.
Prof. Kuupole said the SMS also intended to mount academic and professional programmes for the award of degrees, Diplomas and Certificates through regular, short and sandwich courses.
These would be areas such as Midwifery, Pharmacy, Public Health, Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics and Physiotherapy.
He said through the Ghana Education Trust (GET) Fund, efforts were being made to complete the infrastructure for laboratories and classrooms and expressed gratitude to the sponsors of the university.
Students who excelled were given certificates, cash prizes and other packages, with Dr. Yaw Goh Asare, the overall best student, receiving 11 out of the 22 awards.