Botswana: UB to Graduate First Medical Lab Scientists

| July 28, 2016

The University of Botswana (UB) will next year graduate the first group of its Degree level of medical laboratory scientists, deputy vice chancellor for academic affairs, Prof. Martin Mokgwathi, has aanounced.

"The following year, the country will graduate its first group of laboratory scientists who specialise in Cytotechnology and Histotechnology. This cadre will provide services that include cancer screening in clinical specimen such as breast tissue and pap smear," he said.

In his welcome remarks at UB's School of Allied Health Professions Interactive and Networking Session with business community on July 26, Prof. Mokgwathi said extreme shortage of this cadre had in recent years created a huge backlog.

Over the years, he said UB had continued to build capacity training locally, but it had not been easy for its graduates to find jobs, "compelling the institution to recalibrate programmes to align to new market needs."

To address the overlooked fact that proper practice of medicine required availability of several supporting professions, such as pathology, pharmaceutical, rehabilitative and preventive service, he said the School of Allied Health Professions was established in 2007.

"Such an approach was meant to ensure an appropriate skill mix that could maximise investments that we made in healthcare provision in the realisation that healthcare education, research and service delivery are increasingly both interdisciplinary and interprofessional," he said.

In light of this vision, UB's deputy vice chancellor for Academic Affairs said the University realigned many of its programmes from the initial training of educators and administrators to offer training in clinical skills in areas such as Nursing, among others.

The institution, he said had also established an Environment Health programme to support and improve primary health care.

As the university expanded, he said School of Allied Health Professions was anticipated to offer teaching and research programmes in; Medical Imaging, Human Nutrition, Speech Language, Hearing Therapy, Physiotherapy and Pharmacy.

"In fact the proposal for Pharmacy will go before the Senate, probably in August 2016," he added.

At present, Prof. Mokgwathi said Faculty of Health Sciences comprised of Schools of Public Health, Nursing and Allied Health Professions.

The School, he said was also home of three programmes, being; BSc Medical Laboratory Sciences, BSc Cytotechnology and BSc Hystotechnology Sciences and Bachelor of Pharmacy.

Additionally, he said the School also offered graduate programmes in Medical Sciences at MPhil and PhD levels- all of which were established within a short period of about five years.

"There is a great need for health professions in the mentioned areas. Had it not been for limited resources, our focus for 2008/2009 had envisaged an intake of 265 students in the various departments of the School of Allied Health Professions," he said.

However, deputy vice chancellor said the major obstacle in reaching this milestone was funding.

Prof. Mokgwathi acknowledged immense contribution made by development partners through short term investments and financial support and technical assistance offered by Centres for Disease Control (CDC) in Botswana and I-TECH for inception of the BSc Medical Laboratory Sciences Programme.

"This is very much appreciated. I am of the view that we cannot always leave the funding of strategic investments to development partners only.

Source: Botswana Daily News.

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