The Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC), Professor Abubakar Adamu Rasheed, mni, MFR, FNAL, has reiterated that the recently introduced Doctor of Medicine programme (MD by publication) was introduced for an entirely different purpose from the original medicine by fellowship programme and therefore, submitted that one can never replace the other.

He gave this clarification at a meeting with the leadership of the National Postgraduate Medical College (NPMC), led by the President, Professor Akinsunya Osibogun, penultimate Wednesday, in his office.

Professor Rasheed explained that based on current trends, there must be a way to encourage research in clinical sciences by professionals like medical scientists, pathologists, non-clinical dermatologists, non clinical medical laboratory scientists, biochemists, medical microbiologists and professions that go under the cover of health science to be allowed to make publications from their research capable of bringing about solutions to our revolutionary health issues.

Due to the discovery, he said there was a strong relationship between PhD and quality services in every sector. The researchers should be awarded doctorate degree based on quality publications from research made in any specific core clinical area. This, he said, was more important where a clinical sample could be used to make astounding breakthroughs that would assist in overcoming most of the health challenges in the country. 

While wishing the President of the College a successful tenure, he assured the team of NUC’s commitment to strengthening the already existing relationship between them, noting that the Commission at present does not have any qualified medical personnel in its services but, had through sabbatical scheme procured three doctors who are helping in matters regarding to health.

He commended the President and the College in particular for continuously bridging the gap in the profession in line with current trends in order to ensure that young ones coming behind find a robust health sector that would give them the best skills to operate effectively within the country and internationally.

Professor Rasheed stressed on the need to have a comprehensive picture of the status of medical education in the country, which, he said, had triggered the urgent need for an inspection visit to medical universities by the Commission, to ascertain their current state.

He indicated that all pending medical universities’ committee reports shall be looked at by a committee of medical experts and non-medics while the position on the maters as taken by the Commission would be communicated to the concerned universities.

He said, even though the Commission’s relationship with the association had been very fruitful for a while, there were various gaps that existed due to lack of adequate information by the NUC and the universities that needed to be bridged.

The NUC, he said, would keep itself abreast with the modus operandi of the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria, while the most elevated in the medical field should get themselves acquainted with the workings of the Commission’s regulatory role and desist from having a fixed mindset on how to run their programmes. This, he said, would go a long way in impacting more positively on medical education in the country.

The Executive Secretary said just last week he received the Provost of the Colleges of Medicine in West Africa and the highlight of their discussion was the new Core Curriculum Minimum Academic Standard (CCMAS) and the Commission’s resolve to not restrict the MBBS and Dental programmes to the 30% freedom for innovation given to the other 16 disciplines.

This, according to him, was to grant them the flexibility of uniformity and variations because human environments differ.

He suggested that due to the peculiarities of each environment, the medical professionals should be adventurous in creating some differences to justify the social and economic peculiarities of the environment the programme were taught.

He said for 44 years now, Nigeria remained one of the few countries that still operated a regimented approach to how its university curriculum was designed, adding that there would be a gradual shift to the modern approach to designing curriculums but for now NUC still maintained 70% uniformity in the new CCMAS.

The President, National Postgraduate Medical College, in his address, thanked the Executive Secretary for granting them audience and commended him for the great innovations he had brought to university education in the country. He said the transition in the education sector was very necessary in order to keep education relevant to its benefactors.

He commended the NUC scribe for his support for the introduction of (doctor of Medicine) MD programme, which, he explained, was not equivalent to medical fellowship because the postgraduate medical programme in Nigeria had already been designed to include doctoral training. He explained the doctoral training to mean having the ability to acquire the context of knowledge in addition to vocational training and leadership.

Professor Osibogun said it was necessary to understand the current realities and environment in which we operate, explaining that although Nigeria followed the footsteps of the Western way of practicing medicine, the NUC saw the need to design the Doctor of Medicine programme to respond to the Nigerian situation due to its peculiarities.

He said the MD by publication programme was not awarded in Nigeria alone as it was  achieved through a residency training programme and then meeting some course requirements. He also revealed that since its advent, the programme had enjoyed very wide acceptability.

Giving update about the programme, the NPMC President said there were additional courses that they intended to bring on board to the programme which the academy was seeking for NUC’s guidance and support in developing them, he added, would improve Postgraduate medical education in Nigeria.

Lending his voice, the immediate past President of the College, Professor Musa Borodo, appreciated the Executive Secretary for granting them the approval to run such a unique programme which had been widely accepted with many students applying to have an MD before their fellowship.

He said the programme had been clearly established with existing handbooks which guide its operation to keep the students sufficiently informed in line with the approval of the NUC.

He added that there was a very good academic relationship between the College and NUC and prayed that more innovations would come on board that would put NUC at par with its counterparts in the World.

Also on the NPMC team was Registrar Emeritus of the College. Professor Oluwole Atoyebi. 

At the meeting were the NUC Directors of:  the Directorate of Establishment of Private Universities (DEPU), Mrs. Constance Goddy-Nnadi; Directorate of the Executive Secretary’s Office (DESO), Mr. John Ahmadu Mairafi, Directorate of Human Resources (DHR), Mr. Boniface Odum; Acting Directors of: Directorate of Research Innovation and Information Technology (DRIIT), Malam Lawal M. Farouk, Directorate of Inspection and Monitoring, Mrs. Lydia T. Imoroa; Directorate of Public Affairs (DPA),  Malam Haruna Lawal Ajo and NUC Visiting  Professor Oluwatoyin Ogundipe.