Professor Paul Nyame, Rector of the Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons (GCPS), has called for the establishment of a Medical Research Council to promote, coordinate and regulate medical research in Ghana.
He said the Council would also help in the training of medical researchers, both nationally and internationally.
Prof. Nyame, at the opening of a three-day Annual General and Scientific meeting on Wednesday, said the College had contributed immensely to the training of specialist physicians, who would have gone outside the country for those training programmes.
“This intervention has reduced the level of brain drain of health professionals who travel outside for further training,” he said.
He said the meeting, which was under the theme; “Emerging Challenges and Progress in Health,” would afford members the opportunity to share and discuss the challenges of the health sector and find ways of ensuring progress in the health care delivery system.
Prof. Nyame said the College admitted 83 residents this year compared to 154 in 2007, explaining that the sharp fall in the intake in 2008 was due to the fact that potential residents had to pass an entrance examination of the programme, the questions of which were more difficult than that of the previous year.
He also attributed the number of intake to the Ministry of Health’s cap on new intakes.
The Rector said the first group of eight specialists since the establishment of the College in 2003, graduated last year, while a total of 41 specialists were produced this year.
He said the number may be small compared to the enormous task ahead in providing quality healthcare, but if these specialists were judiciously posted, they would help with the training of house officers, who would be coming out in large numbers.
“They will also contribute to a real beginning of higher standards of health delivery in the regions and in the districts outside Accra and Kumasi,” he said.
Prof. Nyame blamed District Assemblies for their lack of interest in securing residential accommodation and other facilities that would help attract specialists and make their work easy in the districts.
“We cannot tackle maternal and mortality or any other cause of morbidity adequately if specialists, who are considered as dispensable by their heads in Accra and Kumasi, cannot be transferred,” he said.
He said to ensure more progress in health the College was collaborating with other Colleges in countries including Nigeria, South Africa and the United States of America and was thinking of opening an office for international affairs.
“Our second object is the promotion of Continuous Professional Development (CPD) where each faculty of the College had organised CPD programmes. We also have plans to put some of our CPD sessions on our Website and also explore the use of telemedicine,” he said.
He commended government for securing a piece of land to enable the College to build a Learning Centre in Kumasi to bring the CPD programme closer to the central and northern sectors of the country.
Prof. Nyame said the College supported the Ministry of Health’s new paradigm shift which stresses on preventive and regenerative health, saying it was the best option for the elimination of most diseases that currently confronted society.
He said the College was also working on the establishment of a Ghanaian History of Medicine to be housed at the lower floor of its current premises.
Prof. Nyame called on government to ensure an upgrade in infrastructure and other facilities at all health centres and hospitals to meet the challenge of running a smooth National Health Insurance Scheme.
Major Courage Quashigah (Rtd), Minister of Health, emphasized the need for simplicity in attaining quality health, saying good sanitation, good dietary practices and constant exercising of the body were key to maintaining healthy lives.
He expressed the hope that the Ministry of Health’s policies and programmes would not be derailed by a change in government, saying all were pragmatic programmes that would evidently promote quality in healthcare delivery.
Major Quashigah called for change in both attitudes and in ways policies and programmes were implemented and said Ghana may not attain the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) on Health, if things continued at the current slow pace.
He stressed the fact that healthier living could not be achieved through legislation, but could thrive through the cooperation of every individual.
Odeneho Gyapong Ababio, Member of the Council of State, said the country was relying on the college, to produce medical specialists to meet the needs of an expanded and better health delivery system which was accessible for all, to ensure that Ghana attained a middle-income status.
Odeneho Gyapong Ababio said it was the collective responsibility of all to ensure the sustenance of the college and called on all its benefactors and philanthropists to support it by providing enough physical and financial resources.
“We have no option but to facilitate the provision of quality health education to guarantee quality health delivery services for our people to make Ghana one of the best health systems in the sub-region.”
The College admitted new fellows, member and Diplomats, and awarded them with certificates in areas including Public Health, Child Health, Anaesthesia, Radiology, Obstetrics and Gynaecology and General Surgery.