By SOLA OGUNDIPE IT will no longer be business as usual for Schools of Health Technology and Health Sciences in the country that continue to refuse to comply with registration and accreditation requirements as required by law. A Federal Task Force that will go round to shut down erring schools is already in the pipeline. Similarly, qualified dental therapists, dental technicians, dental nurses and other health professionals who have been practicing illegally without being duly registered, accredited and licenced by the appropriate authorities, are to be sanctioned accordingly as quacks henceforth. Disclosing these developments to Good Health Weekly in Lagos, Registrar of the Dental Therapists Registration Board of Nigeria, Barrister Aramide Amudat Keshinro, lamented that over the past several years, Schools of Health Technology and Health Sciences as well as cadres of health professionals, whose ambit falls under the Board’s mandate, have been shying away from the compulsory registration and licencing requirements. “Some Schools have vehemently refused to register under the Board,” Keshinro lamented, pointing out that the most notable include the Kwara State School of Health Technology, Offa; the Schools and Colleges of Health Sciences in Ijero Ekiti and Ilesha, in Ekiti State, and in Ondo and Akure in Ondo State. “It is unacceptable that the School of Health Technology, Akure, which is one of the oldest in the system, is refusing to comply and is engaging in quackery. Like the others, it is not accredited and has never regularised with the Board.There was a time our people went to Akure and were driven back. They had to run. “The people at the institution are violent so the best way is to handle them carefully. We have written series of letters but they say they do not belong to a Board, yet it is mandatory for every professional to belong to a regulatory body and the public should know that these Schools are not accredited.” Noting that most students are naive about this development, she remarked that all they want is to go further as long as they are admitted to read something. Barr. Keshinro Keshinro who became sustantive Registrar in December 2011, however said in setting up a Task Force, the idea is to go round and educate erring institutions and professionals on the importance of belonging to a regulatory body and of being registered or get shut down. “Parents send their children to these Schools not knowing they are not accredited. It is when they now pass out, and there is problem for them to get employed because they are not accreditted, that they begin to realise the seriousness of the matter. “Once these students are qualified, they just start practising and when you practice without registration or a licence, you will be practising like a quack. A professional is supposed to register with the Board after passing out and take the registration examination in order to qualify for registration. This is the war we have been waging against the professionals.” The Registrar also said several letter had been written to the erring schools and those that have failed to entertain the Board or comply with directives, we have equally written the Minister of Health, who is taking it up with Governors of affected States. Noting that the Ministry of Health is frowning at quackry.
Keshinro warned that it is now mandatory requirement in every state in the Federation for any health professional to be registered before being able to practice or be get employed. With dental health now part of primary healthcare, most states in the Federation are having the need to go into the rural areas and this has led to development of all the states having health schools training Dental Therapists or Dental Surgery Assistants “The Board has to go round these institutions to maintain standards in training, entry qualifications, students trainees, manpower, instruments, ethics, etc. Many of the Schools in question are found wanting. Some of have no hostels and the standards are very poor. The last time I went to the School at Offa, I was shocked. The School had been training the students without dental chairs, no classrooms, and no instruments. “When these students now come out and go into the clinics, they are jittery because they have never seen the dental unit where there are items such as the mouth mirror and scalar equipment. They cannot identify many of the instruments and if they are not trained with these instruments, how can they carry out dental care? Some of them cannot even express themselves properly in English which is part of the pre-requisite for employment.” Dental clinic Furtrher, Keshinro said globally outside Nigeria, other professionals are interested in the practice here. “When I tell them this profession has been in existence since the 1950s, they are surprised because they think Nigeria has just begun. This same practice if it is well carried out is the same abroad, but if we do not meet this standard we will be shying away. And if a student is shying away from a dental clinic how will that patient handle dental care? She said employersrmust always ask for the resgistration certificates and licences. “It is unprofessional to employ any unregistered member of the orgamisation.
These days we have written to all the states, the commissioners,Permanent Secretaries and Chief Medical Directors and most are now aware the need to ask for the licences. In the past we have been registering students hoping they will make amends, and allow the school to normalise, but they have refused. The National Board examination qualifies for registration and licencing and employment in any state. The Board which was promulgated by Decree 91of August 26, 1993, but now subject to Cap 230 Law of Federation 2004 has mandate to standadise the training of dental therapists, dental health technicians, dental nurses and dental surgery assiatnt. and register and licence qualified professionsals and accredit any school in training of these cadres. She argued that dentistry is capital intensive to set up. “You need the chairs, and training of this cadre, any school must have the basic requirements. In the interim, professionals who are not accredited, are subjected to a Board examination which is less intensive than the school examination, it is just to test basic knowledge.”