The University of Health and Allied Sciences (UHAS) in Ho has started several new academic and professional programmes during the 2020/2021 academic year.
UHAS, through its School of Allied Health Sciences has started a Bachelors of Orthotics and Prosthetics (O&P) programme, which is first of its kind in the sub-Saharan Africa to train 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 said this to the Ghana News Agency said the School had admitted 18 students to pioneer the programme, which was about the design, fabricate, manufacture, fixing and maintenance of artificial body part, particularly, limbs, to aid the disable in society enjoy quality life.
He again announced that the School was 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 were 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 were 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.
Prof Elsie Effah Kaufmann, Head of the newly created Department of Orthotics and Prosthetics, indicated that the Bachelor's degree programme was the first in West Africa, but a Diploma course was 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 and road accident, 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 was far behind with regard to the training of Orthotics and Prosthetics professionals in relation to the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended ratio of 1:225 but it was estimated that the ratio of professionals to the population in Ghana stood at 1: 1,175, which was 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 was needed was 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.
Prof Oluwaseun O. Omotayo, the Head of Department of Sports and Exercise Medical Sciences (SEMS), 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."
The three Professors are 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.
The University, which now has seven schools running, is optimistic to roll out its eighth school, the School of Dentistry to train Dentists. This is to take-off in the next academic year.