Uganda: Medical Schools to Remain Shut, Says Govt – AllAfrica.com

Fears of Covid-19 infections and the current double-digit death toll took centre stage as authorities discussed plans for safe reopening of medical schools yesterday.
The First Lady, Ms Janet Museveni, who is also the minister for Education, convened the closed-door meeting at State House Entebbe to discuss the pros and cons of reopening medical schools.
Sources, who attended the meeting, talked of "a challenging meeting" that ended without a decision on when government should reopen gates for medical students.
Last Friday, the President instructed the Education ministry, Health ministry and the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) officials to meet and discuss safe reopening of medical schools.
The meeting, which was also attended by scientists from the national covid taskforce, however, agreed to convene another meeting and inspect the medical schools to evaluate preparedness and installation of standard operating procedures (SOPs) facilities.
The government officials in the meeting agreed that the planned reopening of medical schools should be deferred to allow more time for inspection and warned that any attempts to rush the reopening might open floodgates for infections and in worst case scenario, death of some students.
The closed-door meeting that started in the morning ended at 6pm and was not conclusive because most members, especially the scientists expressed concerns about what happened to schools before the government announced the 42- day lockdown that ended last week.
Sources, who preferred anonymity in order to speak freely on the matter, told Daily Monitor that some officials expressed concerns that most institutions of learning concealed Covid-19 cases and some learners were affected in the process.
Daily Monitor understands that most of the government officials, including those from the Ministry of Education who contracted Covid-19 from student, are reluctant to take decisions on reopening of schools.
They have demanded for a report on the readiness of schools and details on how government intends to deal with those hiding infections.
Other sources, who attended the meeting, said officials from the Ministry of Education asked their Health counterparts to ensure all the medical students are vaccinated and where possible, encourage parents to test their children before sending them to schools.
In the next meeting (date unknown), Ministry of Health officials are expected to present a report on how soon they will be able to have undisclosed number of learners in all the medical schools across the country vaccinated.
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The ministry is also expected to give details on financial implication since the reopening of medical schools is dependent on how soon they can be vaccinated.
President’s perspective
President Museveni had reasoned that students studying medicine and related courses should be allowed to resume studies since they double as "health workers".
Trainee doctors and nurses undertake mandatory internship during which they do clinical work at the various hospitals, helping senior doctors and nurses.
President Museveni has since tied schools’ reopening to sufficient vaccination , just like his wife Janet who proposed the idea that students aged 12 and above, who were originally not in targeted immunisation groups, should first be vaccinated before going back to school.
This means that an unspecified number of students in 103 nursing and midwifery institutions and 20 universities teaching medical and health-related courses will have to be vaccinated before they are allowed to reopen.
To-date, Uganda has only vaccinated 1.1m people, about five per cent of the targeted 21.9 million, citing failure to secure vaccines due to global competition.
Last year, the Ministry of Health and that of Education set stringent guidelines for reopening of medical schools. Institutions were asked to ensure that they observe two metre distance between learners, ensure that they have washing facilities on campus and have isolation rooms.
Read the original article on Monitor.
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