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GMDC aspires to accrediting medical schools outside Grenada

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by Curlan Campbell

  • GMDC established in 2010 via Health Practitioners Act
  • Council registers and licences physicians, and accredits medical education programmes
  • Grenada’s accrediting system comparable to US system

The Grenada Medical and Dental Council (GMDC) was established in 2010 via the Health Practitioners Act, which was amended in 2019 via the 2019 Health Practitioners Amendment Act. The Act authorises the Council to carry out 2 distinct functions: firstly, the registration and licencing of physicians, and secondly, the accreditation of medical education programmes, that lead to an MD degree in Grenada.

The National Committee for Foreign Medical Education Accreditation (NCFMEA) has declared that Grenada’s system for accrediting medical education programmes is comparable to the system in the United States of America. This determination by the NCFMEA ensures that American students can access Federal/Government loans to pay for their medical education in Grenada.

In its quest to become a world-class medical accreditation agency, GMDC also sought and received recognition from the World Federation for Medical Education (WFME). Such recognition ensures that GMDC is placed in the world database of medical education accreditation agencies that have met a benchmark standard of quality. WFME recognition also means that any student who graduates from a GMDC-accredited institution can practice medicine in North America, if they pass the relevant exams and attain the requisite certification.

Dr George Mitchell, Executive Director of GMDC’s Accreditation Secretariat, indicated that this recent achievement is historic, since no single island in the Caribbean has an agency that WFME recognises. “Apart from Grenada, there is no other agency in the region, including the bigger territories like Jamaica, Barbados, Guyana or Trinidad and Tobago, that has achieved this recognition status by WFME,” he said.

The only other Caribbean agency that has achieved recognition status from WFME is The Caribbean Accreditation Authority for Education in Medicine and Other Health Professions (CAAM-HP), an umbrella body established in 2003 under the support of the Caribbean Community (Caricom).

GMDC aspires to accredit medical education programmes outside of Grenada one day, however, this can only happen if the Health Practitioner’s Act is further amended to grant GMDC such authority.

“We at (GMDC) would like to go beyond and not only accredit SGUSOM or other medical education programmes in Grenada but perhaps we can offer our services regionally or internationally now that we have achieved these milestones. But one of the things that [needs] to happen of course is that the legislation that created GMDC would have to change, because the legislation basically says that GMDC has the authority to accredit medical schools in Grenada,” said Dr Mitchell.

Prior to receiving comparability and recognition status, GMDC needed to satisfy the requirements of both NCFMEA and WFME. Both agencies have rigorous evaluation processes which the agency must periodically withstand. It is thus important to maintain high standards to ensure that GMDC maintains its current status when these evaluations recur in 2025 for NCFMEA and 2032 for WFME.

It is remarkable to note that the recent attainment of recognition status from WFME by GMDC came just about 2 years following the establishment of the accreditation secretariat which spearheaded the process. In June 2022, the accreditation secretariat also coordinated the process that led to the re-accreditation of the medical programme at St George’s University School of Medicine (SGUSOM). The programme was reaccredited for 8 years and will be up for renewal in July 2030.

The Secretariat continues to conduct the Council’s business including monitoring the SGUSOM programme, continuous monitoring and development of its own policies and procedures and fulfilling its reporting requirements to regulatory bodies such as WFME and NCFMEA.

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Grenada

Opposition Leader described as guiding light in Parliament

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by Linda Straker

  • Dr Mitchell did not attend first regular sitting of Lower House
  • Described as grandfather of Lower House due to length of service since 1984
  • Current situation with elected opposition brings true meaning to practice of democracy

Joseph Andall, Member of Parliament for St Patrick West, said he expects Dr Keith Mitchell, who is the Leader of the Opposition, to be a guiding light in the Lower House of Parliament for all the members who are on their first term.

Dr Mitchell, who was unable to attend the first regular sitting of the Lower House on Thursday, 29 September 2022 since a new government was voted into office on 23 June, was described by Andall as the grandfather of the Lower House because of his years of service, beginning in 1984.

“I am a bit regretful that the honourable member for St George NorthWest, the father, some may even say the grandfather of the Parliament, is not here to hear this, but I expect him, given his longevity and his experience to be the guiding figure in this house,” said Andall.

“I expect him to serve the example of decency, dignity, and decorum in this House so that the young member from St John can have an example to emulate, so that the young member from Carriacou and Petite Martinique can say this is what I want to be like when I am serving my 9th term,” Andall continued.

There was no elected opposition following the 2013 and 2018 General Elections because the New National Party (NNP) candidates won all the constituency seats. Andall told the House that the current situation in which there is an elected opposition brings true meaning to the practice of democracy. “For the first time in many years, we have what is almost an ideal situation when it comes to the practice of democracy in our country. For the first time in many years, we are going to have a robust opposition.”

“We expect the debates to be maybe even fierce sometimes, but there is one thing I wish to impress on all my colleagues, those on this as well as others on the other side, we are adults, we represent a civilise nation, the eyes of the world are on us and therefore I implore all of us that even as the debate may rage on let us do so with a spirit of mutual respect and civility.” Andall is a former secondary school teacher and a linguist.

“There will be little ones looking on and we do not want them to be saying Lord, this is what Parliament looks like, mark me no share; we have an obligation to set good and proper examples.” Parliament has 9 members on the Government side and 6 on the Opposition side.

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Grenada

Revenue increase directly links to fuel and freight cap removal

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by Linda Straker

  • As of 1 October, freight capped back to 2019 levels
  • Revenue collection surpassed projections for first 6 months of 2022
  • Mid-year review focuses on the period January to June 2022

Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell explained to Members of Parliament during the first regular sitting on Thursday, 29 September 2022 that his administration’s decision to remove the cap on freight and petrol is linked directly to Government’s revenue collection agencies earning more than what was projected in the 2022 Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure.

“The mid-year review prepared by the Ministry of Finance, clearly indicates that total revenue collected from tax, grant, non-tax revenue that the actual collections are more than the projected,” Mitchell told members while wrapping up debate on a EC$194 million Supplementary Appropriation Bill.

“We are happy that the revenue collections are doing better than projected, and it is because of that we were in fact able to address and take some of the fiscal measures that we have taken to ease the burden on the citizens of Grenada as it relates for example, to removing the cap on gasoline, to eliminating the petrol tax up to December,” he said. “It is recognising that revenue is performing better than projected that we are able to fiscally and prudently take those measures to help ease on average Grenadians.” Prime Minister Mitchell is also the Minister for Finance.

“And so, when we took the decision which will be implemented as of 1 October to cap the freight back to 2019 levels to ease the burden on the average citizen, we did so in the context that to date the collection from the customs department is more than projected. If it was less then it will be far more difficult if not impossible,” he said.

The mid-year review report of Grenada’s economy was among documents laid in the House by the Leader of Government Business for public scrutiny. It said that revenue collection surpassed projections for the first 6 months of 2022. The report focuses on the period January to June 2022 during which time the New National Party (NNP) led by Dr Keith Mitchell was administrating the country’s affairs.

“Public finances continue to bolster in 2022 with revenue collections for the first 6 months exceeding the target and the comparable period of 2021 by $62.2 million and $67.4 million respectively,” said the report which indicates that real GDP growth is expected to be 3.3% at the end of 2022.

“A primary surplus including grants of $58.2 million is estimated for 2022, surpassing the budgeted deficit of $34.2 million while a modest overall deficit of $1.6 million is estimated at the end of this year compared to a budgeted deficit of $97.9 million.” The report was prepared by the Ministry of Finance.

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Grenada

Active outbreak of acute respiratory infections (ARI)

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The Epidemiology Department of the Ministry of Health, Wellness, and Religious Affairs is closely monitoring an active outbreak of Acute Respiratory Infections (ARI) in the country.

Based on its most recent laboratory testing conducted on 27 September 2022, the cause of this outbreak is linked to the Influenza A virus subtype H3N2 or (AH3N2), Rhinovirus and Adenovirus. Confirmatory testing was done by the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), which is based in Trinidad and Tobago.

Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Shawn Charles stated that the Influenza AH3N2 virus is very contagious and can cause severe illness, especially in patients who are very young or old or have chronic underlying medical conditions.

The main symptoms of Acute Respiratory Infections are congestion, runny nose, fever, cough, sore throat, body aches and fatigue.

As a result, Dr Charles advises that the public, including persons caring for sick persons and sick persons themselves, should practice personal hygiene that is known to be effective in preventing Acute Respiratory Infection.

They include, but are not limited to:

  • Washing hands frequently, especially after being in a public place or caring for sick people
  • Always sneeze or cough into a tissue or the bend of your elbow. Dispose of the used tissue in a bin and wash or sanitise hands afterwards
  • Avoid touching your face, especially your eyes and mouth, to prevent introducing germs into your body
  • Regular cleaning of frequently touched surfaces with soap and water or a disinfectant

The Ministry of Health, Wellness, and Religious Affairs encourages the public to take note and take all the necessary hygienic measures to protect themselves and their loved ones.

GIS

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