• The 40th Annual General and Scientific Meeting of the West African College of Physicians was held at the Golden Gate Hotel, Monrovia, Liberia from 31st October to 4th November 2016.
• The President of the Republic of Liberia, Her Excellency Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, represented by the Vice President, his Excellency, Ambassador Joseph N Boakai, declared the meeting open on Monday, the 31st of October, 2016. He was ably supported throughout by the Minister of Health, Honourable Dr Bernice Dahn.
• The Theme of the Conference was “Building A Resilient Health System in West Africa: Social, Economic and Political Implications” and the subthemes were:
o ‘Preparedness and Response to Emerging Health Challenge’
o ‘Appropriate Human Resources for Building a Resilient Health System’
o ‘Political Implications for Building a Resilient Health System’
• One hundred and seventy nine delegates and over 30 guests from 10 countries: The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, the Republic of Benin, Cote D’Ivoire, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and UK attended the meeting. Presidents of sister West African Colleges, the National Post Graduate Medical College of Nigeria (NPMCN), and the Liberian College of Physicians and Surgeons also attended. There were also delegates from the Royal College of Physicians of London.
• The academic activities of the meeting included the following:
>> The Mabayoje College Lecture, titled “The College at 40 – Time for Reflection and Reform” by Dr Kayode Odusote on behalf of the Faculty of Internal Medicine.
>>The Annual College Symposium featuring: “Social determinants of health and resilient health system”, “Community participation and resilient health system” and “Accountability as a veritable tool for strengthening health system” by the Faculty of Community Health.
>>A symposium on ‘RCP MPACT’
>>A symposium on ‘Combating the threats of highly infectious diseases (HIDs) in West Africa’ by the WACP Expert Committee on Infectious Diseases.
>>A lecture on “In-Hospital assessment of training”
• There were nine scientific sessions during which papers on health issues relevant to the sub-region were presented.
• 228 Fellows, and 571 Members in the medical specialties of Community Health, Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Laboratory Medicine, Paediatrics and Psychiatry were trained and graduated by the College in 2016
• 10 Deserving and qualified physicians were also admitted into the College by election.
THE FOLLOWING OBSERVATIONS WERE MADE:
• The West African College of Physicians at 40 years has, to a large extent, realized the dream of its founding fathers at inception, and is improving further by creating a more conducive training environment and improving the effectiveness of its training and assessment programmes.
• The recent Ebola epidemic in the West African Sub-region exerted serious health and socioeconomic impact on the people. The courageous response of the affected countries and the selfless Fellows and Members who sacrificed their lives in this effort is commendable, and has provided important lessons for us to learn in tackling future outbreaks with a coordinated response
• Health Systems and national economies in the Sub-region with the appropriate interventions can become more robust and resilient as demonstrated by the heroic responses and interventions by various member countries
RECOMMENDATIONS AND RESOLUTIONS
The Governments and peoples of West Africa should urgently address the social determinants of health in the Sub-region, encourage community participation and accountability in our health systems and remain vigilant in order to prevent future outbreaks of highly infectious diseases.
Recommendations to Governments and other stakeholders
1. Governments and health workers need to sustain surveillance and infection control strategies aimed at preventing outbreaks of highly infectious diseases through multi-sectoral engagements via prioritizing Community health systems; strong and well integrated health information systems; human resources recruitment and retention as well as integrated health service delivery
2. Community participation and accountability should be ensured in the implementation of health policies and delivery of health services.
3. Governments, agencies, WAHO and health institutions should network for information sharing and resource mobilization for effective response to highly infectious diseases.
4. Governments, agencies and peoples of the Sub-region should make concerted efforts to build resilient health systems and move from “No action, talk only” to ‘More action, less talk’
Recommendations to Chapters and Faculties
1. The current response to Ebola by the expert committee and fellows should be sustained and reinforced for a broader strategy against any future emerging infectious disease
2. Non-communicable diseases burden is increasing and college should form an expert committee and make proposals to urgently tackle this burgeoning epidemic in the subregion
3. Faculties should continue to promote innovation and excellence in providing high quality training of medical specialists of international standards capable of meeting the healthcare needs of the peoples of the Sub-region specialist training
That the West African College of Physicians is committed to:
1. Instituting appropriate reforms towards making our training programmes and examinations more effective, efficient and productive.
2. Assisting the countries most affected by the Ebola outbreak to rebuild their health systems.
3. Assisting the governments of the Sub-region to combat the threats of highly infectious diseases through research, training, and advocacy.
4. Providing the expertise of its members to governments for the implementation of health policies.
5. Collaborating with governments and other stakeholders to build resilient health systems in the Sub-region.
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