New internship opportunities may open in Africa for University of the West Indies medical students, Minister of Health Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic has revealed.
The African internships are being proposed as a solution to the limitation on the numbers of interns who can be accommodated at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, which began as a teaching hospital in 1967, four years after it opened. The QEH currently limits its annual intake of interns from the Faculty of Medicine to 70.
The announcement came as the Health Minister signed a Memorandum of Understanding to renew the 52-year-old relationship between UWI at Cave Hill, the ministry and the QEH.
Lt Col Bostic declared: “In the coming days, a similar signing ceremony will take place in Kenya, where the Minister of Foreign Affairs will sign an MOU with the Government of Kenya dealing with health.
“In working out that MOU, we asked how UWI could get involved in the process, so this agreement with Kenya will include the possibility of local medical students doing their internships in Kenyan hospitals since we cannot accommodate all of them at the QEH.
“And since Kenya has a shortage of doctors rather than nurses, we will see whether Kenyan doctors can come and enroll at UWI and for doctors from Barbados and ultimately the Caribbean region to work in Kenya.”
Principal of the UWI Cave Hill Campus, the Most Honourable Professor Eudine Barriteau said: “From the inception of medical teaching at Cave Hill, our training of doctors was constrained by the number of beds available within the local health care system, specifically the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
“Cave Hill adhered to those stipulations under the professional assessment of the Caribbean Accreditation for Education in Medicine and other Health Professionals (CAAM-HP).
“The UWI model of medical training is based on utilizing live patients – not mannequins – and so once we did not have extra beds available to increase the student intake, we have not sought to take in higher numbers than we could comfortably accommodate for the students’ vital clinical rotations within a hospital setting.”
The UWI principal outlined other areas in which the campus’ agencies will collaborate with the Ministry of Health to ensure a higher standard of health care in Barbados.
She said: “This MOU, therefore, enables the UWI to further partner with the health sector to provide opportunities for cross-fertilisation of ideas in related disciplines.
“For example, such areas of collaboration include the areas of biosecurity studies, the social determinants of health, the relationship between culture and health beliefs, and the development of new applications of natural drugs and substances among others.”
Executive Chairman of the QEH Juliette Bynoe-Sutherland said the hospital was keen to partner with UWI to develop systems to improve the delivery of primary health care.
Bynoe-Sutherland said: “The hospital needs documented clinical protocols, documented standard operating procedures so that for basic procedures we know what to do and it is not determined by individual expertise.
“We want to strengthen our operations to have well-documented procedures, knowing where people go and how beds are used, so we will be looking to deepen our relationship with UWI in practical and tangible ways to improve patient delivery.”