Government to reopen institutions for final year medical students

The National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) said yesterday that universities and tertiary institutions teaching health courses will reopen this month for only final-year students but after fulfilling the stipulated requirements for prevention of the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.

A letter from the NCHE executive director, Prof Mary Okwakol, said the decision to reopen for the final-year students is to enable them complete their studies to fill the human resource gaps in the health sector.

“The government has addressed itself to the fact that medical health interns provide significant services in hospitals and other health facilities. It has been noted that the current interns will complete their programmes soon and a new team would ordinarily be expected to take over from them and if intern students are not allowed, there will be a gap,” the letter dated September 1 read in part.

She said the students will report on September 28.

Prof Okwakol said the reopening of institutions for health courses was sanctioned by President Museveni. The fate of non-finalists and students in other courses remains unknown.

The government allowed finalists studying Bachelor of Medical Surgery, Dental Surgery, Midwifery, Nursing, Pharmacy and Allied Medical Professionals to complete their courses.

Others are finalists undertaking training at diploma level in different courses, and postgraduate students studying various health related programmes.

The NCHE released guidelines that must be fulfilled by all the institutions before they reopen.

According to the reopening roadmap that has been issued by NCHE, heads of institutions and governing councils have been given up to November 13 to put in place all the requirements including formation of Covid-19 committees, training staff and installation of the requisite facilities.

This is besides the existing general hygiene, social distancing and wearing of facemasks and hand washing requirements in all public places.

All students will be required to attend the initial Covid-19 training on the first day of reporting and other mandatory Covid-19 trainings on infection, prevention and control.

Institutions will ensure restricted entry of non-students or staff. Anyone with temperature of 37.6c or above will be required to stay at the screening point for two more assessments.

Students coming from border districts will be subjected to screening before they are allowed into the institutions.

Congregational prayers are prohibited. Students have also been advised to walk or use bicycles where possible and should also move with their identity cards at all times.

The students are expected to be at their places of residence and inside their rooms by 9pm.

Clinical students will be required to have two clinical coats, aprons and scrubs respectively. They will not be allowed to take used clinical coats, aprons or scrubs in their halls of residence.

Prof Okwakol said the chairperson of the sub-committee for reopening of schools will from September 14 to September 26 inspect institutions and issue certificate of compliance before they reopen.

Students will sit the final examinations in November.

Some of the institutions officials Daily Monitor spoke to yesterday said they were ready to reopen for the final year students.

The Vice Chancellor of Makerere University, Prof Barnabas Nawangwe, said the university has been working on the guidelines since Covid-19 struck in March in anticipation that when government reopens institutions, the university is ready to welcome students back.

“We have already put in place the required facilities like handwashing facilities, soap, sanitisers and management is now working on the timetables for students,” Prof Nawangwe said yesterday.

He said students who had not completed their second semester tuition fees will be required to complete the balance before sitting for exams.

The Vice Chancellor of Kampala International University (KIU), Prof Muhammed Mpezamihigo, said: “Students have about four weeks to prepare so they should look for some money to complete their tuition,” Prof Mpezamihigo said.

Ms Halima Mayanja Nanziri, the principal of Kibuli Muslim Hospital Health Training School, said since the hospital has fewer students it will be easy to manage them.

The principal of Gulu College of Health noted that social distancing, buying sanitisers are easy to put in place, but procuring the temperature guns and monitoring students throughout might be difficult.

When asked when other schools and institutions will reopen, the spokesperson of at Ministry of education Mr Patrick Muinda said decision will be communicated by the President.

List of universities

•Makerere University

•Gulu University

•Mbarara University of Science and Technology

•Busitema University

•Kabale University

•Lira University

•Muni University

•Aga khan University

•Uganda Christian University

•Mountain of the Moon University

•Kampala International University

•Kampala University

•Islamic University in Uganda

•Uganda Martyrs University

•Victoria University

•Bugema University

•Clerk International University

•Finsi Medical University

•Bishop Stuart University

•St August International University (King Ceasars University)