Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio Launches Postgraduate Colleges of Health Specialties and Induction of Foundation Fellows, Receives Honorary Fellow of the Council

Freetown International Conference Center, Aberdeen, Saturday 29 May 2021 – His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio has officially launched the inauguration of the Postgraduate College of Health Specialties and induction of foundation fellows and he is now an Honorary Fellow of the Sierra Leone Council of Postgraduate Colleges of Health Specialties.

Chairman of the Council of Post Graduate Colleges of Health Specialties, Prof. Dr Sahr M. Gevao, said that history was already made, noting that the idea of the commencement of postgraduate medical training had been on the drawing board since the College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences, COMAHS, graduated its first cohorts of physicians in 1994.

“The concept of postgraduate medical training, through our local colleges, was conceived in the early 2000s, leading to the formulation of a strategic plan that was commissioned by the Ministry of Health and Sanitation,” he said.

Pro. Gevao further noted that the inducted foundation follows of the Sierra Leone Council for Postgraduate College of Health Specialties would form a bedrock for postgraduate medical training and that the Honorary Members would serve as goodwill ambassadors and luminaries to the society in supporting postgraduate training activities geared toward the reduction of alarming maternal and child mortality indices in the country. 

“Today, we are here for the inauguration of the colleges and induction of foundation fellows: 69 specialist nurses and midwives, 74 physicians and surgeons and 38 specialists in pharmacy,” he concluded.

In a short goodwill message, the Country Representative of the World Health Organisation, Dr Steven Velabo Shongwe, said it was truly historic for the people of Sierra Leone, noting that the establishment of the Postgraduate Colleges of Health Specialties was a major milestone in the country.

“On behalf of the World Health Organisation, I wish to congratulate you all on this great achievement. I wish you all success,” he ended.

Minister of Health and Sanitation, Dr Austin Demby, said the occasion marked an important milestone in the human capacity development agenda of the government, adding that the inauguration of the post-graduate colleges of physicians and surgeons was indeed one of the pinnacles of the education and learning value chain.

“This postgraduate programme clearly provides that platform for advanced medical and surgical practice,” he noted.

Dr Demby further said that no longer would the country be draining the coffers of the limited foreign exchange earnings to send people overseas for medical care when there were homegrown experts in the country.

“I am hoping that this programme helps in the inquiry and exploration of bold actions that will be seen and felt by all Sierra Leoneans,” he concluded.

In his statement, President Bio started off by thanking healthcare workers, emphasising that the nation’s recognition for being proactive, focused, and intent on protecting, curtailing, and now vaccinating against COVID was largely due to the immense sacrifice they kept making on the frontlines.

“We cannot reward you enough; we cannot thank you enough for your unwavering commitment to serving our nation,” he said.

“Our strategic objective in the Medium-Term National Development Plan is to ‘transform the health sector from an under-resourced, ill-equipped, and inadequate delivery system into a well-resourced and functioning national healthcare delivery system that is affordable for everyone and accessible to all.’ That is a key pillar of our nation’s Human Capital Development priority which aligns with the continental AU Agenda 2063 and global Sustainable Development Goals.

“So, when I appointed the Chairman and other Council Members of the Sierra Leone Council for Postgraduate Colleges of Health Specialties in 2019, I did so intentionally,” he said.

The President referenced previous speakers, who had outlined the overall purpose of the Postgraduate Colleges of Health Specialties, adding that it sat well with the strategic objective outlined in the government’s Medium-Term National Development.

“I note the running theme of this inauguration and induction ceremony is ‘Quality and Access: Leadership and Excellence in medical specialty training for the transformation of healthcare delivery in Sierra Leone.’

“Inasmuch as our country’s historical reputation on the continent for academic excellence floundered somewhat as a consequence of unfortunate events and governance decisions, I vowed to the people of this country that we will work together to turn things around,” he assured.

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