The inaugural general and scientific meeting of the East, Central and Southern Africa College of Physicians (ECSACOP) starts today in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, just 7 months after the new college was established.
The 2-day meeting, during which hundreds of physicians from across the region will become founding fellows, marks a major milestone for the new college. ECSACOP aims to address the region’s shortage of physicians by implementing a new, internationally-recognised postgraduate medical qualification to supplement the number of physicians currently being trained.
Progress to date has been led by the ECSACOP Foundation Committee – formed of nominated representatives of the national physicians associations of Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. In addition to developing the new college’s constitution, strategic plan and training syllabus, the Foundation Committee has already held implementation meetings in Kenya, Uganda and Zimbabwe, bringing together key government, health and education experts.
Professor Evarist Njelesani (Zambia), chair of the ECSACOP Foundation Committee said:
This is an opportunity to form the regional friendships and fellowship we have sorely missed as physicians for many years. There is much hard work ahead, and now is the time to join together for the benefit of patients across our region.
The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) is supporting the ECSACOP Foundation Committee by providing mentorship, technical support and access to a range of experts to advise on specific challenges faced.
RCP president Professor Jane Dacre said:
I'm extremely proud that we have this opportunity to use the RCP’s experience to support our colleagues in the ECSA region. This is a momentous occasion which I’m certain will galvanise efforts to increase access to highly trained physicians.
The presidents of the South African College of Physicians and the College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa and the Secretary General of the West African College of Physicians are attending this important meeting to lend their support.
Ministers of the East, Central and Southern Africa Health Community unanimously approved the establishment of ECSACOP on 4 December 2015.
In addition to introducing an internationally-recognised postgraduate medical qualification, the new college will establish a network of accredited training centres, primarily in hospitals that serve rural populations, in an attempt to increase access to care while reducing disparities in standards of care between urban and rural areas.
For more information or photos from the meeting/fellowship ceremony, please contact Iain Fossey, communications officer with the RCP International Office.