Botswana to set up own medical school

December 6, 2002

More with less - THES reporters describe efforts around the world to meet the rising demand for trained medical staff without compromising quality

The small African state of Botswana, which in the past sent students abroad for medical training, is poised to take its plans to set up a medical school at the country's only university to the next stage.

The project, which has been ongoing since 1998, has so far seen the development of a premedical programme and is awaiting the go-ahead from the country's cabinet to develop further.

Sharon Siverts, vice-chancellor of the university, and Thabo Mokoena, director of the medical education unit, visited Cuba in September to recruit core staff to "jump start" the medical school.

Cuba, which favours preventive and community-based medical care, has promised to help Botswana, which has a population of 1.7 million, to set up the school. President Fidel Castro pledged Cuba's support when Botswana's president, Festus Mogae, visited the Caribbean earlier this year.

Last January, the first cohort of 29 premedical students was sponsored to take up places at partner institutions in South Africa - ten each at Natal and Cape Town, and five each at Free State and Pretoria universities.

The second group of 30 is expected to transfer in January 2003. They will go to South Africa, as well as to Norway, Ireland and Australia.

Botswana's preliminary plans for an intake of 30 students to its medical school could make it one of the most expensive facilities in the world.

Other small states that established medical schools for political reasons have had to enrol students from other countries to cut unit costs.

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