WHO recognition, common curriculum and one name key priority for GACOPA

By Austin Otieno | Wednesday, May 8th 2019 at 12:03
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Hundreds of health professionals that form the giant Global Association of Clinical Officers ended a three-day conference on Universal Health Care in the Ghanaian capital of Accra.

The conference which brought together members of the global outfit taking up the name’s Clinical officers, Physician Assistants, Clinical Associates, Health Officers, Medical Assistants, etc gathered at the iconic University of Professional Studies in Accra with the call to have one common name, curriculum and world recognition.

As they are known, this are cadres whose origin is traced back in the early 90s with their crucial role being Primary health care.

In a colorful event hosted by the global Association, hundreds of the health professionals turned up to attend the conference with the guest speaker Prof Rexford Asante calling upon respective governments to embrace this cadre and prioritize their employment to ensure Universal Health Coverage.

Professionals from Kenya Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, South Africa, USA, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Rwanda together with representatives from WHO, ILO and governments attended the event whose climax was the ushering in of the new leadership of the association which will champion for the rights of this neglected cadre.

Speaking at the Conference, the newly elected President Austin Oduor accompanied by his International executives made a clarion call to WHO, ILO, and respective governments to recognize the role of these cadres in the health system. “This is the time to make the desired change, I call upon World Health Organization and International Labor to classify our cadres as professionals and also ensure a common name is adopted with same curriculum cutting across all the countries in the world. “

South Africa trains clinical Associates who earn a Bachelor of Clinical Medical Practice from recognized universities with the graduates obtaining clinical skills through vigorous training.

The clinical Associates who are meant to ensure primary health care and Universal Health care implantation are crying foul that the government of South Africa has neglected them and they are facing rejection and isolation.

The Clinical Associates are calling on the government of the Republic of South Africa through the ministry of health to create a structure to ensure they are posted and recognized and be allowed to order for prescription as per their scope of the study.

They also want the government to start more specialized clinical training such as surgery, anesthesia, mental health.

In Sierra Leone, Liberia, Uganda, and Ghana, for example, a call to have a regulatory body to license the Community and Surgical Health Officers, career progression, low salary with no existing scheme of service was extensively discussed.

Kenya’s Director of Clinical Services Mr. Manasseh Bocha together with the registrar of the Clinical Officers Council of Kenya Mr. Mutinda Kissingiu reiterated the need to have one standard curriculum and a regulatory body for each member countries anchored in one symbiotic system that can allow one to practice freely in various countries. They described Kenya as a perfect example of where the system is a success with the council in Kenya regulating all the 22,000 clinical Officers and defining their training, the scope of practice and licensing. This sentiment was echoed by Rwanda Allied Health Professional Council Registrar Mr. John Ndahiriwe who said regulation is key to any government and its essential the roles that Physician Assistants, Clinical Officers, Clinical Associates, etc. play to get full recognition by the government.

Zambia, Malawi, Kenya and Uganda government have realized their role played by specialists clinical officers together with the general in understanding universal health care. These exceptional cadres are also the custodian of Primary Health Care.

These cadres see 95% of patients at the Primary level and 70% of minor and major surgeries.

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