Students at Mauritania’s only medical school have boycotted classes in protest of what they say are poor curricula and a lack of teachers and postgraduate specialties.
Established in 2006 as the University of Nouakchott’s Faculty of Medicine, the school still does not have a teaching hospital.
“I have lost my great hopes after four years of study,” Denebja Ahmed, a fourth-year student, said in a phone interview. “We lack many basics in a way limiting our knowledge and skills.”
Its library lacks textbooks and references necessary for students and there is no approved academic methodology for students’ exams, Ahmed said.
“What makes matters worse is that the administration did not respond to our many complaints,” he said.
Sayed Ahmed Al-Dahdi, secretary general of the medical college, acknowledged the problems but said resolving them will take time.
“We are currently studying an expansion plan for the college to accommodate a larger number of students, while reviewing the academic program to keep pace with scientific developments, as well as raising the efficiency of the scientific training of professors,” he said in a phone call.
The school was founded as part of the government’s policy of creating a nationally trained medical force and improving the quality of the country’s health care. Teaching is in Arabic, with a curriculum derived from the French medical system; it takes eight years of study to graduate. (See a related article, “Mauritania’s Only Medical School Graduates Its First Class.”)
Pressure on the Health Sector
Mauritania faces significant problems from illnesses including malaria, tuberculosis and lung diseases, the country’s main causes of death, according to data from the World Health Organization. (See a related article, “Patterns of Disease Are Changing in the Arab World.”)