Dean ral­lies more govt sup­port for med­i­cal school

Lesotho Times - - News - Mot­samai Mokotjo

LE­SOTHO School of Medicine (lsom) Dean, Dr Musi Mokete, says the sup­port the in­sti­tute was re­ceiv­ing from gov­ern­ment was not enough to ful­fil its man­date of train­ing health pro­fes­sion­als.

Speak­ing in an in­ter­view with the Le­sotho Times this week, Dr Mokete said the col­lege needed money to con­struct lecture-rooms and re­mu­ner­ate staff among other ex­penses.

“We have the po­lit­i­cal sup­port, but it now needs to trans­late into ma­te­rial form for the in­sti­tu­tion to grow,” Dr Mokete said.

“In other words, we need financial sup­port to build class­rooms and pay staff. That is what we are ex­pect­ing. How­ever, what we are get­ting is com­ing at a slower pace than ex­pected.”

The med­i­cal school was of­fi­cially launched on 1 Septem­ber 2014 and is based at the Na­tional Health Train­ing Col­lege (NHTC) in Maseru. The ini­tial en­rol­ment of 32 stu­dents has since been in­creased to 92. Med­i­cal stu­dents who are sent to Zim­babwe for three-year pre­clin­i­cal stud­ies re­turn to un­der­take their clin­i­cal stud­ies at the in­sti­tute.

Ac­cord­ing to Dr Mokete, sup­port from gov­ern­ment was most com­mend­able but fell short of the col­lege’s needs.

“Gov­ern­ment has pro­vided a lot of sup­port by ac­com­mo­dat­ing us within the NHTC. The gov­ern­ment also pro­vided staff, some of from the Min­istry of Health, as well as con­sul­tants,” said Dr Mokete, adding the first batch of LSOM stu­dents would grad­u­ate in 2018.

“The help is there, but it’s not enough. We need to pro­duce a lot more doc­tors since le­sotho has the alarm­ing ra­tio of one doc­tor per 20 000 pa­tients against the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion’s bench­mark of one doc­tor per 1 000 pa­tients.”

The lim­ited num­ber of physi­cians, he said, had con­trib­uted to the high HIV/ AIDS and pul­monary tu­ber­cu­lo­sis mor­tal­i­ties in the coun­try.

Dr Mokete also noted the chal­lenge was also com­pounded by the dif­fi­culty in re­tain­ing med­i­cal per­son­nel who tended to move to the “sup­pos­edly greener pas­tures” of South Africa.

“South Africa has many ways of at­tract­ing them, among them the sup­pos­edly higher salaries. The rea­son I said sup­pos­edly is be­cause I am tak­ing into con­sid­er­a­tion the cost of liv­ing here at home and out there in South Africa (SA).

“If you were to com­pare two doc­tors, one from here and the other in SA, it would be­come ap­par­ent in the long run that the one who is here is bet­ter off,” he said.

“Some of the doc­tors who are quick to leave the coun­try don’t ap­pre­ci­ate the as­sis­tance they re­ceived through the Na­tional Man­power De­vel­op­ment Sec­re­tar­iat schol­ar­ships. They don’t re­alise that they have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to serve their com­pa­tri­ots.”

Dr Mokete also said the col­lege had joined an or­gan­i­sa­tion called the Con­sor­tium of New South­ern African Med­i­cal Schools which seeks to share ex­pe­ri­ences and resources be­tween newly-formed med­i­cal schools in the re­gion. The or­gan­i­sa­tion con­sists of Botswana, Zam­bia, Mozam­bique and Namibia med­i­cal schools.

“The idea be­hind the con­sor­tium is for new med­i­cal schools to help each other in solv­ing prob­lems as we see them and in the dif­fer­ent coun­tries. We still align our­selves to the World Fed­er­a­tion of Med­i­cal Ed­u­ca­tion which sets stan­dards of op­er­a­tion,” he said.

Dean of LSOM Dr ‘Musi Mokete

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