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EAC Medical Council orders closure of Makerere Dental School

by James Ateenyi

A joint inspection team from the East African Community Secretariat has recommended the closure of the Dental School at Makerere University for failing to meet the minimum teaching standards.

Over the past six months, the EAC Partner States National Medical and Dental Boards have inspected several medical schools in the region, including Makerere University and Kampala International University, which are the only Universities in Uganda that are offering dental teaching programmes.

In a report dated 3rd July, the joint council recommended that Makerere University should close the dental department at it’s Mulago-based College of Health Sciences and redistribute the already admitted students for the September 2019 intake to other dental schools in the region over failure to meet the minimum requirements.

The report added that the Makerere University dental school does not meet the requirements in terms of staffing and infrastructure.

“The University should stop new admissions in the Dental programme until the recommendations are complied with a re-inspection by EAC Partner States National Medical Boards and Councils,” the report says.

The report was compiled by influential medical practitioners in the region including, Prof. David Ngassapa from the medical council of Tanzania, Mr. Daniel Yumbya, the CEO of Kenya Medical Practitioners Council and Dr. Tharcisse Ngambe from Rwanda Medical Practitioners and Dentist Council.

KIU gets Recommendation

On the other hand, the report recommends that the KIU Dental School, which is based in Ishaka-Bushenyi can go ahead to admit and train dental students.

“The joint EAC Partner States Medical Boards and Councils hereby approves Kampala International University to start training of dental surgery to a maximum of 50 students per academic year and ensure that their numbers continuously correspond with approved EAC ratios,” the report reads in part.

According to the report, which was done and approved unanimously by the heads of medical Councils in EAC member states, including Prof Joel Okullo of Uganda Medical and Dental Practitioners Council, KIU met all the requirements in terms of staffing levels, leadership structure, facilities, and the curriculum.

For the staffing, the report indicates that KIU Dental School has 125 teaching staff, who include 39 teaching assistants.

These are distributed as follows; internal medicine (24), surgery (44), anaesthetics (4), pathology (7), radiology (2) and Allied Health Sciences (22).

The report adds that KIU also has 10 specialists in different fields of orthodontics, paediatric dentistry, oral maxillofacial facial surgery, prosthodontics, oral pathology and community dentistry.

The university also signed a memorandum of understanding with University of Nairobi and Nigeria Technical Aid Corps (TAC) to share staff and skills.

“The university management should continue with the projected recruitment of clinical staff in readiness for the clinical years,” the report adds.

In terms of infrastructure, the report says that KIU Dental School has adequate departments such as faculties of Clinical Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences, all with their deans, associate deans and Heads of department.

The report indicates that KIU Dental School also has a curriculum that is up to standard and the facilities meet all the requirements.

Inconsistencies at Makereres Dental School

According to the report, Makerere University’s dental school has not recruited enough staff in fulfillment of the required 1:4 staff-student ratio. The report faults the university for refusing to recruit more staff.

“The Dean reported that the school had recruited three new members of the teaching staff. However it was noted that one was hired on a one year renewable contract and two were part time,” the report reads in part.

The report adds that the dentist school does not have well equipped and well staffed specialised academic units such as oral and maxillofacial surgery, restorative dentistry, community dentistry, paediatric dentistry and periodontology.

Hence their recommendation that, “NCHE and the Ministry of Education should redistribute the newly enrolled students scheduled for September 2019 to other approved dental schools.”

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