By EmmanuelÂ Elebeke
Healthcare professionals in West African sub-region have been called upon to work together in the area of medical education, research and healthcareÂ to enable Africa achieveÂ self sufficiency in healthcare delivery system.
The call was jointly made by both local and foreign health professionals who spoke at a one day annual scientific/international conference and annual general meetingÂ organized by the Lagos University Medical Society (LUMS) in Lagos
.In his welcome address, the President of Lagos University Medical Society (LUMS), Dr. Chikodi Anigbogu saidÂ that the conference was significant because it was the first time that the union was creating a frame-work for international collaboration on critical health matters in West African sub-region.
With the theme: â€œInternational Collaboration in medical Education, Research and Health Care in the West African Sub-Region,â€ Dr. Anigbogu said the eventÂ was designed to address some critical issues relating to health care delivery among all the sub- specialties of health sector in African sub-region.
He also said that the annual programmes wasÂ meant to provide a platform for stakeholders in the industry to cross fertilize ideas with their counterpart across the boarder, transferÂ knowledge and also promote local expertise for the attainment of self sustainability.
Giving the current trends and the peculiar handicaps facing the sub -region and Africa in general which include: ignorance and poverty; high disease burden, inadequate number of health care personnel; lack of qualified manpower; inadequate basic medical infrastructure; high cost of accessing healthcare and lopsided distribution of available manpower and resources, as well as inadequate facilities for teaching and research, the union president said the theme was timely and important to Health professionals in West African Sub-region.
In line with this, he saidÂ LUMS had beenÂ promotingÂ interaction between various medical disciplines and health care professionals, with the college of medical and the Lagos University Teaching Hospital to engender cross disciplinary understanding, learning, cooperation and synergy in education and service delivery, for which it was established 25 years ago.
These objectives according to him,Â had been pursued by LUMS through public lectures, workshops, seminars, symposia and conferences as well as publication of high quality academic research journals.
His words â€œHaving matured as the foremost medical society in the nation and sub region, we have decided to reach out to our neighbors, since we accept thatÂ disease knows no boundaries, and many of our healthcare challenges extend over national borders.
It becomes reasonable therefore that we should cooperate and collaborate with our colleagues in other countries so as to take advantage of our individual and group strength to build a healthier society,â€ he said
Continuing, he saidÂ â€œOur building of a virile economic and dynamic society is based on the health and quality of life of our peoples. The benefits of a healthy population cannot be easily quantified, hence the need for cross border collaboration among all health professionals.â€ He explained.
In hisÂ presentation, professor Ajoseke Seffah of University of Ghana , who represented the guest speaker at the event, Professor Lambert Lawson emphasized the importance of collaboration among health care professionals within the sub-continent, saying that West Africa and African professionals in the healthcare sectorÂ cannot work alone, without the inputs from their foreign counterparts, particularly in the area of knowledge exchange, particularly in the area of exchange ofÂ students and expertise.
He urged African health professionals not to hide their problems from their foreign counterparts, but be confident in sharing them through effective collaboration and cross fertilization of ideas, researchÂ and expertise.
It is by this way, he said Africa can achieve self sufficiency in the provision of quality and affordable healthcare delivery to its people.
According to him, it is not just enough to have political independence as a nation, but said thatÂ collaboration had become inevitable in the face of prevailing health challenges facing the continent.
To fast track the attainment of self sufficiencyÂ inÂ development of local expertise and to provide cheaper and quality healthcare services to African people, his position was that all health institutions in African sub-region could tap knowledge from their foreign counterparts and come back home to exchange ideas and expertise, there will be no need for any one to go abroad to seek for same services and of course pay in hard currencies for such services.