Anatomists urge FG, to support review of medical curriculum

Date: 2021-09-12

Medical practitioners under the aegis of the Anatomical Society of Nigeria (ASN) have called on the federal government to support the review of the academic curriculum for medical practices in the country to check obsolete practices.

Speaking at the 17th annual scientific conference and general meeting of the association in Ilorin, its acting president, Dr. Olugbenga Ayannuga, said that, "the truth is what people are trained within the 1950s will not work today".

Dr. Ayannuga, who is an associate professor of Anatomy with the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile Ife in Osun state, also said that Nigeria must re-jig its medical academic curriculum in such a way that graduates are very relevant to current realities.

"Apart from training doctors, healthcare professionals, nurses, physiotherapists, we already have a stand-alone discipline in Anatomy and it is also important that a product of that stand-alone programme in Anatomy must be mainstreamed into the working class (civil service), particularly, the ones related to health”.

The medical expert, who lamented the high unemployment rate among anatomists in Nigeria, said that "We talk about joblessness in this country but the truth is that there are quite a number of people who have the capacity based on their training and they are not given the opportunity to do anything.

"For instance, to curb insecurity in Nigeria, some people think that the answer to it is to employ more people into the workforce. That is very good. But the truth is you will need a component of science in it and that is where a case of a forensic officer in the military and paramilitary settings is very important.

"The military and paramilitary are the kinds of people that can identify people based on the features they see on them and the best of people prepared for that kind of job are anatomists. But as I am talking to you today, the police will not put out vacancies and say we need forensic scientists who have training in embryological sciences particularly Anatomy. Those are areas we need to take care of. But at the last count in this society, the anatomists are the ones that are best trained to do those kinds of jobs.

"The next example I will give is the example of infertility. Infertility is very rampant based on our culture around here. Once someone is married, they are expected to have babies. In an actual sense, on the day of the wedding, people will pray that in nine months’ time we are coming. But the truth is we have infertility all over and science has moved beyond just praying to God to make pregnancy happen; to the extent, that science has moved to a point where it can cure people with infertility.

"We have so many infertility clinics that are springing up all over the place but at the core of infertility, service is a clinical embryologist. The person that does the basic laboratory work and the best set of people suited for that work are anatomists because the major component of Anatomy is developmental like embryological science and that is the kind of training we have.

"As of today, there is no hospital that is looking out for clinical embryologist mainstream. Nobody is doing that. So, those are the kind of things that we hope that we can bring to the front so that the government, private sector, everybody, in general, can help us. I am not saying that society does not have a role to play. We do, and in the actual sense, we are beginning to work on the things that we have to do, one of them is the issue of curriculum review.

Talking about the number of anatomists in the country, Dr. Ayannuga said that the number of holders of B.Sc Anatomy in the country is in the range of 3,000 and 4,000 on a yearly basis.

"You can imagine in the last 20 years, the number of graduate Anatomists that we have out there and the question is what are they doing. These are people that have skills and training and can be deployed by the government.

"The way our society is structured is such that we have different disciplines within the society; we have medical doctors among us, we have people with BSc and Ph.D. Anatomy. So, the first way to solve health problems in this country is to be particularly involved in the foundational training of health professionals. Medical Doctors, Nurses, Medical Lab scientists, etc, must do a volume of anatomy to position our people in such a way that they can do that kind of job well.

"For those that are particularly interested in things like reproductive science like I said earlier, the government should give opportunities to them to be able to practice clinical embryology work in fertility clinics. These are people that are trained to study the human body and so for example, if an Anatomist is working with a furniture company, he will help the company to be able to design chairs and tables that will not put strains on people's bodies.

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