Hand Over Speech Of The President Of UDS Medical Students’ Association (2017/18)

Hand Over Speech Of The President Of UDS Medical Students' Association (2017/18)

Mr. Chairman, Distinguished MSA Executives, Honorable General Assembly Members, Class Representatives, Ladies and Gentlemen, good evening to you all! The 2017/2018 Executive Board of UDS-MSA took over the mantle of leadership of our dear association on the 1st of May 2017, exactly one year ten days today. Our team made a solemn promise to members of the association to right the wrongs of the association and take it to greater heights. When we made this solemn promise, we meant it from the bottom of our hearts. It was not meant to hoodwink you into endorsing us as your leaders.

A year down the lane, I believe the evidence is crystal clear for all to see. I have always said, “Whenever I have done my best, I keep smiling no matter the outcome. After all, it is my best; what else could I have done?” My team and I have done our utmost best in service to our association. We have played our part, and the time has come for us to pass on the baton to others to continue.

Mr. Chairman, kindly permit me to outline the achievements of our administration in various aspects.

ACHIEVEMENTS:

Engagements with management:

  • Meet the Dean Series: When we took over office, our predecessors had initiated a series of meetings of the Dean with various classes. They went halfway before their tenure ended. We took up the program and the meetings were subsequently held with all the remaining classes. These meetings afforded management the opportunity to explain policies to students, and for students to present their concerns and suggestions directly on the doorstep of management.

  • On the issue of transport of preclinical students to COBES. Our engagement with management resulted in management rescinding their decision not to transport students to COBES for the 2016/2017academic year. Thanks to the classes that were involved for standing resolute with us on the issue.

  • On the transport of final year students for district postings: This engagement also resulted in management rescinding their decision not to transport final year students for district postings for the 2017/2018 academic year

  • Graduation and induction schedule after MBChB Final Part 2 Exams: We all know how UDS medical graduates have to sit at home for 8 months or more before they start house job, whilst their counterparts in KNUST and UCC medical schools start house jobs just 3 months after passing their final exams. MSA took up this issue, and with the support of some clinical year students, met with the offices of the Dean of SMHS and CEO of TTH to see how best the issues can be addressed. I am happy to inform you that some assurances have been given, but it is too early yet to jubilate, as the engagements are still ongoing.

  • Engagement with the SMHS counseling unit on the extension of counseling services to the clinical campus. I am happy to inform you that the counseling unit now has an office at the clinical school and I believe most of you at the clinical school have seen their posters directing students to seek services at the office.

  • We have also engaged the office of the Dean on the need to get medical students results updated on the students portal, as all schools/faculties have done so with the exception of the SMHS. An assurance has been given that the issue will be addressed. In fact, when I mentioned this issue at our last General Assembly meeting, some students confirmed that management has started uploading the results of their class onto the portal. We hope the process will be fast-tracked.

Revenue mobilization:

When we took over office, we made a promise to embark on massive fund raising campaign to raise funds to supplement the meager income of the association. We were able to do just that.

  • Through our strategic positioning, we recorded the highest dues payment in our association’s history, with as much as over 90% of members paying their dues this academic year.

  • We went the extra mile to seek external funding for the association. And through the hard work of the team, we again recorded one of the highest external funding supports in our association’s history, raising as much as over GHC 14,000.00 from sources outside the association.

Welfare of Our Members:

  • Our administration attached priority to the welfare of members. The Vice President was made in charge of welfare issues. He led a team to visit bereaved and sick members. The aim was to encourage them, and let them know we are a family at all times. The association donated to the affected members during those visits.

  • Token for class representatives: In acknowledging the critical roles our class reps play in the day-to-day activities of the medical school, we gave each rep “a token” as a way of motivating them to keep doing their best, and to also assist them offset some of the expenses they incur on communication.

Project Fund and Projects:

When we took over, we realized various past MSA administrations limited their works to mainly programs, such that when they leave office, there is not much physical assets left behind for the association. We therefore decided to dedicate a portion of our income into a special project fund. From this fund, we have been able to acquire the following items:

  • Portable Public Address System: Hitherto, the association had to hire a portable PA system for not less than GHC 50.00 each time we needed one for a program. The acquisition of this PA system will therefore go a long way to save the association such expenses. The PA system is also being used for lectures by some classes at the pre-clinical side. It is also our hope that the new administration will start renting this PA system out to other associations to raise some monies to supplement the association’s income.

  • Printer/photocopier machine: The huge sum of money the association spends on printing services necessitated the need to purchase a printer/photocopy machine. This machine is also being used to offer printing services to our members at very affordable prices. As we speak now, the final year students are printing their thesis with the association at this subsidized price.

  • Essential Books for Clinical Library: It came to our notice that the library at the clinical campus lacks some very essential textbooks. For instance, not even one copy of “Baja Principles and Practice of Surgery”or Norman-Browse Surgery Clinical Methods book is currently in stock at the library. For those of us at the clinical level, we all know these books are the Bibles/Qurans of surgery in Ghanaian medical schools. Inasmuch as we are engaging management on this, we found it necessary to purchase few copies of these books for the library, as a stopgap measure whilst we await management’s intervention. We havethus, purchased: 3 copies of Baja Surgery (each consisting of volumes 1 & 2), and 3 copies of Norman-Browse Surgery clinical methods book. The books have been presented to the Dean for onward transfer to the library.

  • Orientation session for fresh students: The fresh students were taken through introduction to the UDS medical school, introduction to UDSMSA and FGMSA, campus life, recommended reference materials for medical school, among others. The session ended with a familiarization tour of the Tamale Teaching Hospital. Another orientation session was organised for the parallel medical students when they reported in January.

  • Welcoming of freshmen (Amaraaba bash): This was held at the Discovery Hotel and our fresh students had a good time as their first outing on campus. It also afforded them the opportunity to socialise with one another and with members of their senior classes.

  • White Coat Ceremony for Clinical Year 1 Class: The white coat ceremony, which started three years ago came off successfully this year as well. Senior members of the university and experience Doctors were invited to share their experiences with the fresh clinical year students as they officially got rubbed in the white coats signifying a transition from preclinical to clinical stage of their medical education. We acknowledge the support of the SMHS in this regard.

  • MSA Games: This year’s MSA games came off successfully at the TAMASCO sports field. Congratulations to the current PBL 3 class for winning this year’s competition and also for breaking the dominance of the 2012-2019 year group (current PBL 5 class) who have won the competition for the past successive years.

  • Health Week Celebration: This year’s health week celebration was on mental health, with focus on depression and suicide. I believe the “More Hope, No More Rope” slogan is still fresh in our minds. The event started with a flash mob within the Tamale Central business district followed by a float through some principal streets of Tamale and an official launch of the event at the TTH conference room. Our members were then trained and posted to some selected districts within the Northern and Brong Ahafo Regions, where they carried out massive campaigns on depression and suicide. Another team was dispatched to hospitals and selected SHSs within the Tamale Metropolis to carry out the campaign. The new thing this year was the debate competition organised on the theme between clinical and preclinical students. The motion was “Attempted Suicides should be Decriminalised in Ghana.” It served as an important learning platform for our members on the theme of the health week.

  • Outreach to SHSs: Besides the SHSs outreaches during the health week, we decided this year to also organise outreach services to some selected SHSs in Tamale to educate the young students on drug/tramadol abuse and self-breast examination. The program was largely a success.

  • Mini-clinic 1: In the course of the first trimester, we held a mini-clinic within the Tamale central business district during which we educated and screened participants on hypertension and diabetes.

  • Mini Clinic 2: We organised another mini-clinic during the second trimester, this time, in Yendi. This was in partnership with the Gomda Family of Yendi. Participants were educated and screened for hypertension and diabetes.

  • The President’s Cup: This was one of our new additions to the routine MSA’s annual activities. It was in response to the fact that MSA has sports activities only in the first trimester. To offset this defect, the President’s Cup was held as a weekend tournament in the course of the second trimester. Congratulations to the PBL 5 class on winning the competition.

  • Media Engagements: This year, we held several programs with the media, all aimed at extending our reach to the wider populace. Several health education programs have been held with radio stations in town. And for the first time, UDS-MSA featured on live television sessions to educate the public on some aspects of their health.

  • Standing committees training weekends: The weekend training came off successfully, and students had the opportunities to participate in training sessions of their respective standing committees. In addition, several life empowerment seminars were held during the program, and included: Career Options and Further Education after Medical School, Project Management, Relationships in Medical School, Effective Time Management, Proposal Writing, and Public Speaking.

  • Health Week Evaluation Dinner: Christened “The Masquerade Ball”, the stylish dinner was held at the Global Dreams Hotel and was another massive success.

  • Elections: We have successfully organised this year’s elections. It is on the back of that we are having this handing over ceremony today.

  • Ongoing constitutional review: To address the many deficits in our current MSA constitution which has been in operation for so many years now, we set up a constitutional review committee led by Charles Lwanga Bayel. The committee is far advanced with its work. It is unfortunate our administration could not finish this task that is so dear to me. I trust the new team will continue and finish it ASAP!

  • End of administrative year bash (coming soon): As our administration comes to an end, we have planned a bash for all of you our cherished members. Get your dancing shoes ready and let us meet at the Maya Court tonight!

Exchange:

This year, we hosted 3 exchange students; 1 from Sweden, 1 from Germany and the last one from Finland. They were all ladies. We also had several of our students going on exchange programs to countries such as Germany, France, and Czech Republic among others. We have also secured about 20 exchange slots for the next exchange season.

Standing Committees:

Besides the standing committees training weekend, some of the standing committees carried out various activities:

  • SCORA: HIV/AIDS awareness campaign during the 2017 World AIDS Day.

  • SCORP: A peace campaign during the 2018 UDS SRC elections when tensions were going high. The campaign saw opposing aspirants pose for pictures that were widely circulated on social media with peace messages.

  • SCOPH: Carried out radio/TV health education programs, two mini clinics in Tamale and Yendi, and outreach programs to some senior high schools.

External Affairs:

We took part in the following activities of organizations to which UDS-MSA is affiliated:

  • FGMSA NEC meeting held at Korle Bu, Accra

  • FGMSA Midyear Congress hosted by KNUST-MSA at KATH, Kumasi

  • FGMSA Annual Congress hosted by UG-MSA at Korle Bu, Accra

  • FGMSA SCORP campaign on streetism, held in Accra

  • IFMSA meeting: The Exchange Officer took part in IFMSA August meeting held in Tanzania, albeit at his own expense.

Souvenirs (Outstanding): I want to seize this opportunity to apologise to all of you our members for the delay in distributing this year’s souvenirs.The situation is due to some disappointments we faced from ourcontractor. We have received all the items now, and as you may have seen in the circular we sent out earlier in the day, distribution of the items will start on Monday.

CHALLENGES

  • Apathy on the part of members: This was our biggest challenge. Though we saw some improvements in members’ attendance to programs, the situation still leaves much to be desired.

  • Inadequate funds: Although we were able to mobilise funds, funding was still a challenge. One of our planned programs, clinical Dagbani teaching sessions, had to be called off due to inadequacy of funds. We also had to cap a lot of our expenditure.

  • Timing of programs: Due to the nature of our Problem-Based Learning program, it was always difficult choosing a suitable time that favours all the various classes when scheduling programs.

  • Inaccessibility of our patrons: Our patrons all have very busy schedules, making it difficult for the association to engage them when the need arises. Maybe it is about time we took a look at that aspect of our constitution that makes the Regional Minister, the CEO of TTH and the Dean of the Medical School our patrons.

RECOMMENDATIONS

  • The new executive board should carry out more sensitization to whip up the interest of members in the association’s activities.

  • The ongoing constitutional review program should be continued to the end.

  • MSA should start some profit-making venture to raise additional income for the association.

  • Venues for programs should alternate between the Dungu/pre-clinical campus and the clinical school

  • Through the General Assembly and the Constitutional Review Committee, a second look should be taken at the current arrangement that makes the Regional Minister, CEO of TTH and Dean of the Medical School patrons of the association. They are always inaccessible due to their very busy schedules.

  • MSA should get an office in the very near future to obviate the current situation where administrative activities of the association are carried out in the rooms of executives.

Ladies and gentlemen, as I told you in my inauguration speech when I was sworn in last year: if anything goes bad in MSA, I did it; if anything goes semi good, we did it; and if anything goes really good, then you MSA members did it. Therefore, for all the successes chalked, I hereby dedicate them to you. For the things we could not accomplish, I take full responsibility.

The journey has been tough, to put it mildly, but it was worth it. We would not have come this far as an MSA administration if not for the never-ending grace of the Almighty God. We have received significant support from the SMHS management in the course of our tenure. Let me use this opportunity to express our profound gratitude to Mr. Ohene Ampofo, our immediate past senior assistant registrar.

And to our Dean, our father and patron Prof. Francis Abantanga, thank you for the guidance. We had some tough times with you, but it was all for our good. To the heads of our various committees, the executive board is grateful for the sacrifices you made for the association. The sports committee, the dinner committee, the welfare committee, the electoral commission, the audit committee as well as all the standing committees, we duly acknowledge your efforts.

To you all our dear members, as I have always said, you remain our greatest asset as an association. Thank you, first of all, for the opportunity to serve you, and for the support you gave us thus far. I am positive that you will continue to offer such wondrous support to the new executives. To those we may have wronged in the course of this journey, we ask for your forgiveness.

To the new executives, the secret is doing your best, serving with a clear conscience. Take criticisms in good faith, bearing in mind that not every critic has an evil intention.

Till we meet again, God be with you!

Thank you!

Long live MSA

Long live UDS

Long live Ghana

IDDRISU MOHAMMED HABIB

(MSA PRESIDENT, 2017-2018)

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