A GNA feature By Maxwell Awumah
The University of Health and Allied Sciences (UHAS) in Ho has started several new academic and professional programmes during the 2020/2021 academic year.
The University through its School of Allied Health Sciences has commenced the Bachelor of Orthotics and Prosthetics (O&P) programme, which is first of its kind in the sub-Saharan Africa to train O&P professionals at the degree level to support the rehabilitation of people with disability through accident or congenitally.
Professor Eric Kwasi Ofori, Dean of School of Allied Health Sciences (SAHS), who announced this to the Ghana News Agency said the School has admitted 18 students to pioneer the programme, which is about the design, fabricate, manufacture, fixing and maintenance of artificial body part, particularly, limbs, to aid the disable society enjoy quality life.
Prof Elsie Effah Kaufmann, Head of the newly created Department of Orthotics and Prosthetics, indicated that the Bachelor’s degree programme is the first in West Africa, but a Diploma course is being run at the Nsawam Orthopaedic Training Centre.
She said the necessity for the course stems from the prevalence of disability from amputation usually from trauma (road accident, etc.) and other causes (disease and congenital). She said the programme had been approved by the UHAS Academic Board as well as the erstwhile National Council for Tertiary Education (NCTE) insisting “The curriculum is developed to suit our peculiar situation.”
Prof Effah Kaufmann disclosed that Ghana is far behind with regard to the training of Orthotics and Prosthetics professionals. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends a ratio of 1:225 but it is estimated that the ratio of professionals to the population in Ghana stands at 1: 1,175, which is far behind the WHO standard. There is therefore the need to train more O&P professionals to comply with the terms of the Disability ACT and to improve the quality of life of people with disability.
“What is needed is a well-equipped laboratory or workshop facility with a capacity of at least 40 students. We believe if the government comes in, it will help because we want to build a technical and practical University,” Prof Effah Kaufmann reiterated.
We also need scholarships for students who will be enrolling in post graduate programmes while we train more staff,” she added.
Professor Ofori, again announced that the School is currently offering Bachelor of Diagnostic Imaging (Radiography), Master of Philosophy (MPhil) and Doctor of Philosophy in Medical imaging programmes. The first batch of MPhil students are graduating in April, this year, as one of its novelties.
He said the innovation and ingenuity bells of UHAS continue to toll loudly, aimed to practicalise its programmes to serve the core of humanity.
The Dean also announced that plans are far advanced to start three new postgraduate programmes next academic year, 2021/2022, namely, MPhil/PhD programmes in Rehabilitation Sciences, Medical Laboratory Sciences and Nutrition and Dietetics.
The Postgraduate programme in Rehabilitation Sciences in particular would have pathways for graduates in Physiotherapy, Occupational therapy, Orthotics and Prosthetics, Speech and Language therapy, and Audiology to pursue advanced studies. Graduates from these programmes should be able to do the necessary cutting-edge research that would promote quality healthcare and improved clinical outcomes.
In addition to the above programmes, the University in 2020/2021 academic year also kickstarted its newest School, the Sports and Exercise Medicine, first of a kind in Africa, and admitted 13 pioneering students into the first programme in the School, which is Bachelor of Sports and Exercise Medical Sciences.
The Head of Department of Sports and Exercise Medical Sciences (SEMS), Prof Oluwaseun O. Omotayo, said the programme would focus on training professionals, who would be in a position to prescribe exercise as an alternative therapy to people in sedentary lifestyle, and suffering from cardiovascular diseases among others.
“It is not all diseases that need medicine, sometimes such patients only need exercises or physiotherapy”. “When we look at sedentary lifestyle and obesity it leads to cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, hypertension among others, so we need to prescribe a specific exercise regime since obesity is on the rise,” Prof Omotayo emphasised.
Prof Omotayo also said the School would focus on how to enhance the performance of sports men and women and have prescribed nutrition that would help the sportsmen or women as well as boost their psyche and physique.
The Bachelor of SEMS programme would therefore involve courses such as sports nutrition, sports psychology, sports performance testing, sports facility management, and adaptive physical activities, sports franchise and pitch side management among the others with the ultimate goal to enhance the performance of sports people to the highest competitive level. Students would also be trained in gym management, which is a specialised area that needs expertise to be able to guide and manage clients and the use of facilities. Professionals can also direct a client on the intensity of his/her exercise and the kind of exercise to undertake as one struggles with a heart disease.
Graduates, having studied sports facility management and sports franchise would be able to manage modern day stadia or sports facilities and equipment in a professional and standardised manner and companies who are experts in producing sports equipment such as Adidas and Nike might contact these professionals to handle their sports marketing ventures.
The School of Sports and Exercise Medicine would work closely with the National Sports Authority, Ghana Football Authority and the football clubs to turn the management of the game by science to achieve results.
The University is seeking to establish an ultra-modern sports complex on its campus that would comprise all sporting disciplines, football pitch, the tennis court, swimming pool, sports clinic, and research laboratories.
“We hope to have a public private partnership to be able to construct this sports complex,” Prof Ofori indicated saying “Our main objective is to have a facility to train students and at the end, unearth talents and create job opportunities.”
The School of Sports and Exercise Medicine is currently collaborating with Ghana Boxing Authority, to spot some amateur boxers, and help develop their strengths and nurture them for national assignment.
It would be good to have this training facility for people in sports, because Ho and its environs is mountainous, which would help athletes to train at higher altitude and Amedzofe, Vane, Gbadzeme are best fits.
The School of Public Health in Hohoe also has started a PhD programme in Public Health in addition to the existing master’s degree programmes in Public Health. Other Schools such as Nursing and Midwifery, Basic and Biomedical Sciences are all planning to run postgraduate programmes hopefully in the 2021/2022 academic year. These programmes would make the University a hub to higher research and training in Health and Allied Sciences.
Furthermore, the School of Medicine is hoping to run a Bachelors in Anaesthetists programme in the near future.
The University, which now has seven schools running, is hoping to roll out its eighth school, the School of Dentistry to train Dentists. This is hoped to take off in the next academic year.
The University is therefore appealing fervently to the government and major stakeholders for support to expand its infrastructure to enable it to train health and allied sciences professionals to meet the health needs of the country.