The 2nd Annual Conference of the College of Health Sciences, Makerere University and the Eastern Africa Health Professionals Educators├ö├ç├û Association (EAHPEA) opened on the morning of 11th June 2014, at Hotel Africana. The three day event kicked off with an opening ceremony presided over by the EAHPEA Chairperson, Prof Sarah Kiguli.
Prof. Nelson Sewankambo, the Principal of the College of Health Sciences, in his opening remarks, encouraged the conference delegates to enjoy every moment through active participation. He noted that scientific principles underlie health profession education that can be used as a basis for what we do. He posed a question on the theoretical basis of the health professions education and training.
Key to health professionals education is to ├ö├ç┬úproduce a cadre of product that we want to see.├ö├ç├ÿ This he said, then brings out other questions relating to WHO decides this product and HOW those decisions are being made. He urged that the need for transparent, open and rational decisions.
Crucial to his remarks was the need to build a momentum to look at things critically that is unstoppable. He mused that we haven├ö├ç├ût reached a level where the evolution of things is unstoppable. This, he said, can be reached through ensuring sustainability and accelerating the momentum.
Prof. John Ddumba Sentamu, the Vice Chancellor of Makerere University begun his opening remarks by appreciating the competence placed in the University to host the conference. He noted that there is a gap in systems for training health professionals. Key of these gaps are in the admission criteria, inappropriate curricular, inappropriate methods of training, inadequate learning environment and inadequate numbers of health professionals educators.
His strategies to address these gaps include equity in admission of students in health education programs, retention at faculties through enhancement of working environment and encouragement to undertake research.
His take home advice was to ├ö├ç┬úinvolve all stakeholders├ö├ç├ÿ to collaborate, cooperate, plan and implement strategies to improve the competence of health professionals├ö├ç├û educators.
The Chief Guest of the opening ceremony, Dr W Alemu, the World Health Organization Country Representative, in his remarks, cited the need to work together to address challenges facing health systems. He noted that knowledge and technology are running fast yet we are still faced with static and outdated curricular that produces graduates who can├ö├ç├ût cope with the health care needs.
He ended by noting the need for scaling up the quality and quantity of Human Resources for Health (HRH) through addressing the effectiveness and equity of HRH and improving competences of the existing teaching staff.