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Makerere speaks out on closure of its dental school over poor standards

Makerere University has refurbished and installed modern equipment in its dental school following its closure. (PHOTO/Nelson Mandela)

MAKERERE – Makerere University says it has launched efforts to refurbish and install modern equipment in its dental school following an order from the regulator to close the admission of first-year students over poor standards in the dental department.

The EAC Partner States National Medical and Dental Boards in the past six months, has been inspecting several medical schools within the region, including Makerere University and Kampala International University (KIU), which are the only Universities in Uganda that currently offer dental courses.

In a report dated July 3, the joint council ordered Makerere to close its dental department at the Mulago-based College of Health Sciences.

The regulatory team also recommended the University to redistribute the already admitted students for the September 2019 intake to other dental schools in the region over failure to meet the minimum requirements.

“The University should stop new admissions in the Dental programme until the recommendations are complied with a re-inspection by EAC Partner States National Medical Boards and Councils,” the report says.

The University Vice-Chancellor Prof Barnabas Nawangwe in a letter sent to PML Daily admitted that school was poor state but he said an emergency task force has been put in place to ensure that the requirement as recommended by the joint inspection team is installed before the start of the new semester in next month.

He said that while the regulators appreciated the efforts made in improving the teaching and learning conditions, they decided that the University needs to pull up its socks in terms of infrastructure.

At the time of inspection, Prof Nawangwe said the enrolment exercise of new students had already been completed and that everything possible is being done to ensure that the recommendations are entirely fulfilled before the semester commences.

Whereas the report noted that the Makerere University dental school does not meet the requirements in terms of staffing and infrastructure, Prof Nawangwe said that the recommended requirements had been procured but by the time of inspection, the equipment had not been delivered on-site for installation.

He said the management responded to the warning by investing considerable resources in the Dental Surgery Programme.

“We  allocated funds that enabled the transformation of Don Bosco Annex into a dental clinic with an increased capacity for 22 dental chairs,” he said in a letter.

“We also allocated an extra 11 dental chairs to beef up the existing capacity, hence doubling the number of dental chairs”.

According to the report, Makerere University’s dental school has not recruited enough staff in the fulfilment of the required 1:4 staff-student ratio.

Prof Nawangwe said the Appointments Board gave a special consideration to the department of Dentistry and recruited some new members into the dental wing but according to report, the staff ratio of 1:5 was still lower than the recommeded ratio of 1:4.

“The Dean reported that the school had recruited three new members of the teaching staff. However it was noted that one was hired on a one-year renewable contract and two were part-time,” the report reads in part.

The report was compiled by influential medical practitioners in the region including, Prof. David Ngassapa from the Medical Council of Tanzania (MCT), Mr. Daniel Yumbya the CEO of Kenya Medical Practitioners Council (KMPC) and Dr. Tharcisse Ngambe from Rwanda Medical Practitioners and Dentist Council (RMPDC).

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