I am delighted to be invited to commission the College Permanent Secretariat today.
BACKGROUND INFOMATION ON WACS
The West African College of Surgeons started off in Ibadan in December 1960 as Association of Surgeons of West Africa (ASWA). It is the professional body in the sub-region and comprised of Specialists in Surgical specialties. Its first President was Sir Samuel Manuwa of blessed Memory. West Africa, in this context, includes all countries within 20ºW and 20ºE of longitude and 20º North and 20ºSouth of the equator i.e. from Mauritania to Democratic Republic of Congo.
In order to achieve one of its cardinal objectives i.e. to train surgical specialists in the sub-region, it resolved and became the West African College of Surgeons (WACS) in January 1973 and inherited all the assets and liabilities of ASWA. As of today, WACS has trained about 5000 Specialists in various surgical discipline including Surgery, Anaesthesia, Dental Surgery, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Ophthalmology, ENT, and Radiology. It has also trained about 800 Diplomates in Anaesthesia, Ophthalmology and ENT. In the beginning, the College Secretariat was located in the office of whoever was elected the Secretary-General of the College. It was only 1989 that it moved to the present Secretariat in the Headquarters of the now defunct West African Health Community. It shares the building with three other postgraduate Colleges.
ABOUT THE BUILDING PROJECT
The challenge of Office space has worsened over the years. The College now has twenty-five members of staff, has accredited 200 programmes in 88 tertiary institutions where specialists are trained, and examines about 2500 candidates every six months. All these activities are handled by the College Secretariat. An old property was acquired on 4 Harvey Road, Yaba, Lagos, Nigeria on October 10, 2012. This is to house the permanent secretariat.
I am told the new building project is a 6th floor magnificent building worth 1 billion naira
Ground floor — historical museum & bookshop
PARTNERSHIP WITH WACS ON OUR HEALTH AGENDA
The Federal Government of Nigeria(FGN) will be happy to partner with WACS on all fronts to deliver quality health to Nigerians and other neighbouring countries.
FGN is committed to revitalizing Primary Health Care in Nigeria and make it the bedrock of the health system. Our vision is to decongest the excess burden of trial consultations in our tertiary/specialist health facility. HE President Muhammadu Buhari launched this initiative this year and we have started the journey to attaining Universal Health Coverage.
FGN is supporting each state on MNCH programme through the Save one Million Live programme. Each of the 36states was given 1.5million US Dollars grant to upgrade their basic health care delivery with intention give more if they could demonstrate improvement of their health indicators.
FGN also launched the Better for ALL Programme tagged Rapid Result Initiative, it involves offering free medical and surgical screening and treatment for Poor Nigerians. All Federal Teaching Hospitals and Medical Centres in Nigeria are participating in this laudable programme. Corporate organisations and Development partners are supporting us in providing test kits for screening of chronic medical disorders. I thank your members who have shown commitment and demonstrated highest level of patriotism by helping our brothers and sisters who required our care and support. I appeal to other WACS members in both public and private to support FGN on this project. We are open to collaborate with WACS in our RRI programme.
Another area of focus of this Federal Administration is our commitment to reverse medical tourism in Nigeria. The common causes of medical tourism abroad are cancer, chronic renal problem (renal transplant) and heart diseases. Nigeria loses roughly 1 billion US Dollars annually to flight abroad out of our meagre resources. Government has ample evidence that some of our members (consultant & trainees) connive with prospective patients to ask for FGN funds for medical conditions that are easily managed in the country (E.g. The marvelous job of Professor MT Shokunbi & his team; The Fibroid story and huge bills; National Hospital Abuja team and the young girl with huge Jaw tumour — surgery which lasted 8hours with different surgical medical team). I urge WACS members to support us as we re-position the tertiary health facility in the country.
We are upgrading 7 tertiary health facilities in Nigeria for Cancer care — We are specifically focusing on upgrade of Radiotherapy and FMOH is discussing with two big vendors to provide machines, training and maintenance opportunities. Corporate organisations such as NSIA, SNEPCO and NDDC are planning to support different centres aside FGN interventions. We are also repaying outstanding bills for trainees in South Africa in IAEA supported training.
FMOH has prepared a white paper on Residency training programme. We are committed to improve the quality of training offered in our institutions. FGN is investing hugely on residency training especially on the salary and other incidental needs. I will like to passionately appeal to the WACS leadership to reduce the training period of residents to 5–6 years. Any other training should be post-fellowship diplomas. Character assessment should also be part of important component of training and it is high time for College leaders to incorporate this now.
Let me specially thank President and his executive members; past presidents and secretary generals for their commitment towards WACS programme. FMOH is willing to partner on area of mutual cooperation to improve quality of care, training and service delivery.
Professor Isaac F. Adewole, FWACS