Wednesday, 14 December 2022

The Government plans to establish a standalone university of medical studies by 2025.

The Prime Minister, James Marape when announcing his plans said the government will   ensure a standalone University for medical studies is established by 2025.

The Prime Minister was speaking at a ball on Sunday night 11 (December 2022), which marked the end of training for the final year medical students’ class of 2022.

The 2022 cohort is the 50th since the first cohort recited their Hippocratic oath in November 1972.

“In 1972 the medical faculty graduated six medical students. The population was just on three million.”

The Medical Faculty over the last fifty years has graduated an average of thirty new doctors per year, however, the county’s population has now increased to well over ten million.

“Our doctor to patient ratio is therefore worrying and we have to address that problem head on,” adding, “It is absolutely important that the government invests in the training of doctors to help close the ratio to a more acceptable level.”

Meanwhile, the government is investing in health facilities and infrastructure and as such,  this investment must be matched by investment in the human resources which will operate the facilities.

The Prime Minister thanked the Vice Chancellor of the University of Papua New Guinea Professor Frank Griffin and Chancellor Robert Igara, for agreeing to work on establishing the School of Medicine and Health Sciences as a standalone Medical University.

“I thank Chancellor Igara and Vice Chancellor Griffin for agreeing and embracing the big picture and supporting the government’s call to work towards delivering on this intention for our people and our country.

“We must work hard to make this happen by 2025 when our nation celebrates 50 years of independence”

He added that the   government has commenced work to build the important processes and system of identifying smart students from high school, and pointing them into important program of studies such as medicine and supporting those intentions directly.

The Prime Minister wants his government to build quality by making sure that the entry point is also at very high levels.

The government has over the last two years invested in building student numbers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) from high school, and is confident the number will  increase  to two hundred very smart students who are ready to study courses such as medicine, by next year and beyond.

“We believe that this will be translated into high quality candidates entering the science foundation programs at our universities.”

Prime Minister Marape also paid tribute to all long serving academic serving the School of Medicine and Health Sciences who have been anchors at the medical school for a very long time.

He said that without people who dedicate their services to training, and without the skills and professional standing they bring to their respective fields training doctors will be extremely difficult.

“I pay tribute to senior professionals such as Professors Tefuarani, Vince, Isi Kevau, Ikau Kevau, Glen Mola and Linge who have been largely responsible for the training of a large number of doctors in Papua New Guinea over the years”, Prime Minister Marape said.

He particularly paid a special tribute to Professor Sir Isi Kevau, who was in the pioneering class of 1972.

“I pay tribute and my respects to Professor Sir Isi Kevau who was the first Papua New Guinean among six medical students who recited their Hippocratic oath in 1972, after the UPNG Medical Faculty was established from the then Papua Medical College.

“He broke the ceiling for Papua New Guineans to become doctors and chose to dedicate his entire life as service to humanity in the task of training other Papua New Guineans to become doctors. I want to acknowledge his 50 years of medical service to this country.”

In acknowledging the contributions of the senior academics, the Prime Minister further announced  government’s  support in  training “ the next crop of senior academics in the medical field to fill the gaps when the old guard retire.”

“We will work with the School of Medicine and Health Sciences to put a program in place or support any existing program that trains current academics or invite other practitioners who demonstrate potential and aptitude to go away and train in different fields and come back and fill the gaps at the new Medical University.”

The ball night was sponsored by the National Gaming and Control Board, and attended by over 250 people including parents, relatives, and friends of the medical students. There are 48 medical students who make up the class of 2022.

The event marked the end of their training as medical students and the beginning of their time as resident medical officers.