12 July 2018
Medical education is the backbone of the health care of the people of any country and it’s the right of all citizens to receive quality healthcare services. Owing to the prolonged conflict from 1988 to 1994, Somaliland’s health infrastructure was destroyed and for a long time there was no policy and regulation framework governing higher / medical education in the country.
With a health workforce lower than the WHO recommended 2.3 health workers per 1,000 population, Somaliland is suffering from chronic staffing shortfalls. Traditional healers, auxiliary nurses and general nurses dominate the available supply of health workers and there are critical deficiencies in the numbers of physicians, midwives, lab technicians and anaesthesia professionals.
To meet this need a policy for medical education was developed following a meeting of stakeholders held in Hargeisa in September 2017. A broad outline was agreed at the Medical Education Policy meeting and a Task Group was mandated to develop the policy further, supported by THET and King’s College London through the ‘Prepared for Practice’ initiative, part of the UK DFID-funded Strategic Partnerships for Higher Education, Innovation and Reform (SPHEIR) programme.
The policy outlines how government, regulators, universities and other health system leaders (e.g. teaching hospital medical directors) will collaborate to produce a well-trained medical workforce competent to apply their skills and learning to meet the health needs of people in Somaliland.
The policy will also limit the number of Health Training Institutions as well as the number of students graduating from the Universities ensuring a higher quality of training and a more standardised approach. It will define the students’ eligibility for entrance exams to medical training institutions, the environment within which they are learning both theory and clinical practice, the internship program, and the country’s future Medical Doctors who are eligible to register with the National Professional Council for Licensing.
Speaking at the launch of the policy on the 24th June 2018, Mr Yasin Mohamud, Somaliland Education Minister, noted the importance of the policy:
“There was a need to have Medical Education Policy in the country in order to run the medical training institutions as well as general Medicine. I am very glad and welcome this policy. I am very grateful to Kings College and THET who have supported the process technically. I am here confirming that we are ready to implement this policy in the near future.”