By: Jonathan Abass Kamara
The College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences (COMAHS) was established in 1988 in Sierra Leone to train medical doctors locally at the undergraduate level, and since then no further development has happened towards taking medical education to specialist level.
Exploring the ocean depth that needed an urgent exploration in ensuring that the exodus of Sierra Leoneans seeking medical attention abroad is addressed, the current Minister of Health and Sanitation Dr. Abu Bakarr Fofanah and his professional team headed by the Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brima Kargbo taking into consideration the high cost, the great pains and inconvenience faced by our people seeking medical attention abroad have been able to acquire accreditation for Postgraduate training in Sierra Leone. This is a laudable historic achievement after 28 years of our young brothers and sisters going through difficult times studying medicines abroad to become specialist. In fact the circumstance in question was for the haves, whilst the have-nots found themselves floating in a pool of dilemma.
The country has suffered from a scarcity of specialist doctors together with the lack of medical equipment and the ideal infrastructure. The situation created a negative impact on the country’s health care delivery system necessitating the influx of Sierra Leoneans travelling overseas for medical treatment.
In view of the ideals of the visionary Minister and the commitment of the current responsible government to the task, the health and well-being of the people, concrete steps have been taken to respond to the challenge by instituting an interim measure and more sustainable and long term solution. As an interim measure, the government sponsored more than 30 locally trained young doctors to pursue specialist courses in medicine, surgery, pediatrics and obstetrics and gynecology, within the continent. Proudly and successfully, two Physicians, a Pediatrician, an Ophthalmologist and Psychiatrist have completed their specialty training and without aspiring for greener pastures, have patriotically returned home and presently serving in government health facilities. It is with passion, and along these lines that the Government alongside the World Bank committed to support specialist medical training in Sierra Leone.
In pursing our goal, a Teaching Hospital Complex and the Postgraduate Council Acts have been passed in Parliament indicating government commitment. Boards of Directors are now set and three doctors have been enrolled into the residency programme. The Chief Medical Director’s position has been installed, expecting the first set of surgeon specialist in three years times.
Teaching Hospitals offer and encourage the practices of evidence based medicine, specialized surgeries, modern drugs and other intensive treatments that General and Regional hospitals cannot provide. They are where medical knowledge continuously evolves and new cures and treatments are found as a result of breakthroughs in medical research.