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UHAS Marches into Second Year!
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General News of Thursday, 25 July 2013

Source: Sodzi Sodzi-Tettey

UHAS Marches into Second Year!

In September 2013, the newly established University of Health and Allied Sciences (UHAS), Volta region, welcomes its second batch of students after an exciting year of creative changes and exciting challenges. What follows is a whistle stop journey through the various departments of the school.
The School of Basic and Biomedical Sciences (SBBS), set up to run the first courses in basic and social sciences, is currently deep into the second semester with Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Communication Skills, Report Writing, and Research Methods etc.
“Time has been set aside for practical courses using facilities in the laboratories of the Faculty of Science, Legon,” according to Dean, Prof. Festus Adzaku. As part of the University’s mentoring relationship with the University of Ghana, Legon, arrangements were also made with the Faculty of Science, University of Ghana, for experienced lecturers to teach the theoretical aspects of the science programs at Ho on part time basis over the first 13 weeks of the semester. In the second year, the School has initiated plans to recruit additional faculty with 19 applicants screened from an initial 98.
Among proposals from SBBS to address faculty deficits is some preliminary engagements with Ghanaians and non-Ghanaian professionals in the diaspora, some of whom appear eager to share their rich experiences as visiting lecturers. According to Prof. Adzaku, “They are willing to come down to Ho for varying periods (weeks to months) to provide service, collaborate in research, teaching and training of both students and manpower development.” The absence of a functioning University Guest House, to accommodate visiting faculty is a current challenge.
UHAS is planning massive investments in ICT. From the SBBS perspective, investments in virtual laboratories and simulation facilities to ensure that teaching of science course is effectively accompanied by practical sessions to facilitate understanding are critical.
The School of Medicine plans to increase the number of Physician Assistants in training from 19 to 25 in the second year. While this continues, preparations are underway to commence a medical school. Among these is a plan to upgrade the Volta Regional Hospital into a fully-fledged Teaching Hospital with adequate staff. According to Prof. Onike Rodrigues, this may positively impact the current situation where in 2012, only three medical doctors applied for full time employment as faculty. It is also hoped that with the upgrade, the Ministry of Health will post qualified specialists to the hospital. Prof Rodrigues plans to target junior doctors (house officers) and fund their post graduate training “directly from the medical school” and to ensure their continued attachment upon completion.
The school of Public Health currently runs the Bachelor in Public Health for 46 students, with a plan to increase student numbers to 80 in the second year. Of this number, 20 diploma holding health workers in the Ghana Health Service, after aptitude tests and selection interviews, will undergo a top up training. According to Prof. Fred Binka, Vice Chancellor and Acting Dean of the School, the school is “finalizing a memorandum of understanding with the Leeds Metropolitan University (UK) to commence a post graduate Master in Health Promotion in November 2013 with 15 students awarded scholarships by the British government.” To promote research, the SPH-UHAS is collaborating with Makerere SPH, Uganda on “Strengthening Leadership in Disaster Resilience.” Already, the partnership with Makerere has won a 5 year, $25 million grant from USAID on a project called “Resilience Network Africa” with UHAS forming the West African hub of a study involving 16 African and American Universities. Twenty applicants for faculty positions have been shortlisted for appointment in the second year.
The School of Nursing and Midwifery (SONAM) currently has fifty nine students and has identified hospitals in Hohoe, Keta, Sogakope, Battor, Ho Municipal and Volta Regional Hospital as sites to facilitate vocational training. Acquisition of field competencies will be ascertained through the completion of log books approved by the Nurses and Midwifery Council. The School is currently seeking external collaboration with two institutions in the UK.
School of Allied Health Sciences (SAHS) currently runs the Bachelor of Dietetics and Bachelor of Medical Laboratory Sciences for its 22 students and intends to run a third programme, Bachelor of Speech and Language Therapy (Pathology) in year two. The school is managed by two part time lecturers with UHAS’s Pro Vice Chancellor Prof. E.K Wiredu, former founding Dean of the University of Ghana’s School of Allied and Health Sciences, doubling up as acting Dean. The school plans to send nine students in dietetics for rotations through the Volta Regional Hospital, 37 Military Hospital and the Tema General Hospital.
Further, SAHS intends to implement a community rotation that allows a study into the community’s nutritional problems. Medical laboratory students are expected to rotate through the Volta Regional Hospital and the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital. SAHS plans to commence a clinical department in the Regional Hospital, later building it up into an academic department by September 2015. The school hopes that the University Council’s construction of an auditorium and additional rental facilities will ease the difficulties with inadequate lecture hall space. In the short term, the school plans to rely on computer simulations to support students’ laboratory work.
“A long term solution lies in the conversion of the Volta Regional Hospital to a Teaching Hospital. This will allow for expanded laboratories capable of accommodating students for their professional training” says Prof. Wiredu. Lack of faculty is the school’s major headache, reflective of “the general lack of Allied Health Professionals in the country with many of the few trained at post graduate levels not having adequate practical skills and experiences at the level required to teach in the University.”

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