Some 75 medical schools and departments in the Democratic Republic of Congo will close because of substandard facilities and poor training of medical personnel, the country's higher education minister, Leonard Mashako Mamba, has confirmed.
Mashako Mamba told a press conference in Kinshasa last week (13 November) he had agreed to a reprieve for some of the schools slated for closure. Originally some 265 medical schools and departments were ordered closed, but around 90 had requested a review of their status — of which 15 were accepted.
"The [closure] measures are maintained and confirmed for 75 out of 90 establishments [that had requested a review]," he said.
"Twelve medical schools and the medical departments of three higher education establishments were accepted, and these institutions now have a moratorium of one year to improve their training conditions," said Mashako Mamba.
At a press conference in the presence of managers of public and private universities in Kinshasa on 4 September, he said more than 265 out of 506 medical schools and departments in all the country's provinces lacked the required facilities, teaching materials, libraries, laboratories, good sanitation facilities and competent teaching staff.
A number of teaching establishments had no more than a single professor and little practical experience offered to students. Many of the establishments to be closed had almost no proper facilities.
Last year the ministry had warned the sector to improve their standards. Mashako Mamba said the decision to close the institutions and departments followed a country-wide investigation of facilities during February to May.
Pierre Lokadi, general secretary of the ministry of public health said: "there are a hundred deaths every day in Kinshasa. That situation results from the (poor) quality of medical care. Human resources are a major element, in our national health development programme. Currently, the ministry of public health doesn't not have confidence in personnel supplied by the ministry higher education."
WHO representative Mathieu Kamwa said: "We support the courageous decision reached by the ministry of higher education for its boldness. My organisation is ready to join with the ministry in resolving some of its problems."
"The closing of those establishments is a good thing, but the implementation causes a serious problem. There are many graduates, but we do not know where they are coming from. Our association is behind the Government and is prepared to sue anyone who undermines the nursing sciences," said Komba Djeko, national president of the National Association of Nurses.