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Eritrea: Healthcare Promotion Continues To Payoff Part I

Healthy society healthy nation, healthy economic progress go side by side. A society riddled with a number of healthcare problems would not only fail to accomplish what it desires but would not also lead the basic day-to-day activities. Thus, investing in healthcare is investing in everything. It has now been 13 years since Eritrea embarked on training healthcare professionals at doctoral level the fruits of which are as vibrant and fresh as a newly sprout shoot and the growth of which would definitely shelter every national. Eritrea has so far trained a number of healthcare professionals and graduated a total of 152 medical doctors from Orrota School of Medicine which was established in 2004. The 56 doctoral graduates are of this year’s graduating class.

Training healthcare professionals locally alone would not solve the entire problems in any given nation. Thus, the transfer of knowledge and the sharing of experiences is what contributes most to the ever increasing competence of Eritrean doctors. The open minded youth, who have been trained in different specialties of medicine have been the very national asset and the very enthusiastic to skyrocket medical expertise in the country.
The very fruit of the medical training which stared in 2004 ripened in 2009 with the graduation of the first ever locally trained 31 doctors. This was followed by 37 doctors in 2011 and 28 doctors in 2012 as well as by 56 medical graduated of this year.

All the medical graduates, who have been trained at doctoral level have been exerting extensive efforts in the rigorous courses that continued for eight years until their hard work pained off with flying colors. The number of graduates mentioned earlier does not include post graduate courses.

Accreditation by external examiners and international associations is what gives the professionalism that have been achieved in the country its true color. The medical competence of the locally trained doctors need to meet international standards and this is what has been done by the Ministry of Health through partnerships with regional and international medical institutions. There is an Eritrean saying which roughly states “No one is assumed defeated who races without a competitor”. Hence, if not examined by foreign medical faculties, this medical expertise may fail to meet international standards. That is why the Ministry of Health has been giving external examiners to have an absolute power that comprises the 80% of the overall marks so as to decide by themselves on the failure or success of any student.

Hence, the upper hand to decide as weather the trainees qualify for internship training or not has been given to the external examiners. According to Prof. Andemariam Ghebremichael, Dean of Orrota Medical School, the Orotta School of Medicine is up for recognition regionally by Sudan Medical Council and for accreditation internationally by WHO/WFME. “Within six years of its existence, in 2010 the School has been commended for its performance by WHO/WFME following a rigorous scrutiny of facts on the ground provided by the School and one month site visit by a leader of WHO/WFME evaluation team.” the professor said.

Citing WHO/WFME report the prof. Andemariam said “What normally should have taken thirty years to come to this stage, Eritrea has done it in about six years.”

A number of medical students have been graduated as nurses, midwives, medical technicians, and anesthetist as well as in other specialties and sub specialties. The opening of Orotta School of Dental Medicine is therefore another epitome of the success stories that has been registered in the country’s health sector. Following the opening of Orrota School of Medicine, the School of Dental Medicine has begun to give a seven-year program in Dentistry. The medical schools of the country continue to flouring with the ongoing efforts to equip them with teaching aids and other supplies.  Even though not inferior in terms of competence, the Orotta School of Medicine and Dental Medicine, according to Prof. Andemariam, lacks an infrastructure specially designed for school of medicine and dental medicine with all its amenities for basic medical sciences, clinical skills, and research.

It is however important to notice that the existing medical schools are beyond expectation of visitors.  Thus Prof. Andemariam said “By all   standards and measurements the Orrota School health facilities do stand tall in the eyes and minds of educators and experts who frequent visitation of the campus for special tasks, external examination, accreditation, or simply teaching.

Orotta School of Post Graduate Education has also been educating doctoral graduates to enhance their medical know-how in other sub specialties. The establishment of a graduate school program in biomedical sciences is what has been envisioned. So, as highlighted in the graduation ceremony held last 29th Dec 2012, the future of the Orotta Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences would grow and flourish under the cradle of Orotta School of Medicne and Orotta School of Dental Medicine.

At present, the two medical and dental schools have 72 instructors the 48 of whom are Eritreans, thirteen from Cuba, eight from India, and three Eritreans from diaspora. The schools would also have six graduate assistants to be assigned to different departments. So, sending graduates from the Orotta School of Medicine for scholarship is underway. So, competent instructors trained locally and who enhanced their know-how through scholarships in different countries are expected to bring a radical change in the country’s health sector. What has been achieved to date is an epitome of a brighter future where Eritrean doctors who start to share their expertise with their counter parts from around the world.


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