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Study: Training of medical students in Kenya below standard

Health & Science

NAIROBI: About 70 per cent of medical students are unhappy with how they are being trained and feel ill-prepared to handle patients in hospitals.

A quality assessment of 14 major medical training institutions by the USAID-funded FUNZOKenya Project for the Ministry of Health says that curricula in these institutions are obsolete and do not address the health needs of the country.

None of these institutions, for example, was found to have comprehensive training for cancer, diabetes or emerging diseases such as Ebola.

Further, the institutions including universities, faith-based and middle level training facilities do not carry out annual reviews of their curricula.

The 14 institutions studied are part of 18 medical training institutions targeted for revamping with support from the American government. The support will involve curricula review, upgrading of facilities and general infrastructure.

The findings were published on Thursday in the scientific journal Human Resources for Health by Hazel M Mumbo and Joyce W Kinaro of the IntraHealth International Inc FUNZOKenya Project.

The report shows a clear disconnect between the training institutions and the Ministry of Health, which considers cancer and diabetes as serious challenges.

"It is important to note that there are emerging diseases such as Ebola and the high prevalence of cancer and diabetes among others, considered as national needs by Ministry of Health, but not considered by the training institutions in their curricula."

The findings also revealed that the curricula do not adequately prepare students for clinical placement in a hospital setting.

Almost all students who participated in the study felt that the quality of classroom delivery of the curricula was inadequate to prepare them for clinical practice.

"On average, only one third of respondents felt the quality of curricula prepared students to serve patients in emergency wards," says the study.

The authors say training in these institutions is long on theory but short on practice.

The students also doubted the quality of their tutors. In addition, the study says all the institutions lacked a system for evaluating the quality of instructors.

These training gaps are being highlighted at a time national and country governments are preparing to employ 52,000 health workers.

The Health Sector Human Resources Strategy 2014 to 2018 indicates there are plans to hire 40,000 community health workers and 12,000 other professionals including nurses, doctors, radiologists and clinical officers by 2017.

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