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Community Medicine

History

The Department of Community Medicine was established as a separate department, at the inception of the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital. It was headed by Dr. PNC Abuwa – a University of Ibadan and Harvard university-trained medical practitioner, who is also fellow of the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria in Public Health and West African College of Physicians in Community Health. From the time of Dr. Abuwa’s appointment till date, the headship of the department has remained with medical doctors with the relevant postgraduate qualifications in Public Health.

Headships of the Department

NAME PERIOD
Dr. P.N.C. Abuwa 1983–1990
Dr. B.E. Ketebu Oct 1990–1992
Dr. P.N.C. Abuwa June 1992 – Sept 1992
Dr. S.B.S. Afiesimama Oct 1992 – Sept 1999
Dr. M.M. Mezie-Okoye Feb 2000 – June 2003
Dr. S.B.S. Afiesimama June 2003 – Dec 2005
Dr. B. Ordinioha Jan 2006 – Jan 2009
Dr. M.M. Mezie-Okoye Feb 2009 – 2011
Dr. C.I. Tobin-West 2011 – 2013
Dr. B. Ordinioha 2013 – June 2015
Dr. K.E. Douglas June 2015 – July 2017
Dr. D.S.T Ogaji July 2017 to date

The department on creation was saddled mainly with the responsibility of training of medical students and the management of the hospital’s health centre. Although, great progress was made with these responsibilities, the training of resident doctors did not fully take off in the department until 2005 when the department was granted partial accreditation by the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria. This was followed by full accreditation in 2008. The department is also fully accredited by the West African College of Physicians.

CLINICS & TRAINING FACILITIES

The department is equipped with all the resources recognized by both the National and the West African Postgraduate Medical Colleges as necessary for the training of residents in community medicine and public health. These resources include:

Public Health Laboratory

The department has a public health laboratory with the basic equipment required for routing public health investigations.

Students in the department also make use of the laboratory of the department’s health centre, and those of the departments of Chemical Pathology, Haematology and Microbiology. The facilities in these laboratories received a big lift through the Federal Government’s Vamped programme, and a public-private partnership with a Canadian firm. It is worth mentioning that the Department of Microbiology now has a virology laboratory and a dedicated facility for the culture of tuberculosis bacilli. 

Public Health Museum

The department has a museum that has in stock assorted samples of environmental sanitation equipment, mounted specimens of some vectors of public health significance, and models depicting various aspects of the specialty. The museum also has a photo gallery consisting of pictures of public health significance.

The Departmental Library

The department has a library that stocks relevant public health textbooks and journals, both in hardcopy and in electronic form. The library also has internet access and also has access to HINARI. Residents in training also have access to the medical library of the University of Port Harcourt.

Data Processing Facility

The department has dedicated computers for data processing that provides for the training of residents in various computer statistical packages. The facility is manned by the Epidemiology and Biostatistics unit of the department and has been useful for data entry and analysis for several studies carried out in and outside the department.

The DOTS Clinic

The DOTS clinic was established following the rising incidence of TB/ HIV co-infection, and is funded by the German Leprosy Relief Association (GLRA) through the Rivers State TB/ Leprosy Control Programme. The management of the patients in the DOTS clinic is the direct responsibility of the department, but the laboratory backup is provided by the microbiology department of the hospital. With the setting up of a culture facility for tuberculosis bacilli in the microbiology department, the management of tuberculosis in the department is to include an isolation ward for the management of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis. This will provide good training for resident doctors in the management of severe communicable diseases.

The Sexually Transmitted Disease Clinic

This is one of the clinics under the control of the epidemiology and disease control unit of the department. It sees both self-referred patients, and those referred from other clinics in and outside the teaching hospital. Its activity is boosted by a well-equipped side laboratory, and the arrangements put in place for contact tracing.

The Anti-Retroviral Clinic

This clinic is run in conjunction with the departments of Internal Medicine and Haematology of the teaching hospital. The clinic is for the management of HIV/AIDS patients with drugs and testing kits provided by the Federal Government and healthcare partners like Institute of Human Virology of Nigeria (IHVN) and Family Health International (FHI).

The Family Health Clinic

This clinic provides NPI immunization services to children and women of child-bearing age, and immune-prophylaxis to individuals according to identified risks. The clinic also undertakes growth monitoring, health education, and nutritional counseling (provided in conjunction with the Dietetics department of the hospital). Plans are underway to broaden the range of preventive medical services provided in the clinic.

Primary Health Centre, Aluu

This is located in Aluu – a semi-urban community located about 5km from the present site of the teaching hospital. It is solely managed by the department and designed to provide training in rural community health. The health centre currently provides the following services:

  • Out-patient services
  • Well Child Clinic
  • Pharmacy
  • Laboratory services
  • Ante-natal Clinic
  • Maternity services
  • Family planning clinic

The health centre also provides free Voluntary Confidential Counselling and Testing and has a PMTCT (Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV/AIDS) programme established in partnership with two international NGOs – Africare and IFESH. These programmes have been a good training opportunity for the residents.

Since the department assumed responsibility for the management of the health centre in the 1980s, it has made a great effort in ensuring that the catchment communities make inputs into the running of the health centre. However, the zeal with which this was pursued at the inception of health centre was not sustained due to the establishment of other health centres in the area, dwindling funding, and the rapid influx of students and staff of the University of Port Harcourt into the communities.

Primary Health Center K-Dere

The need for another health facility to provide training in rural community health was felt following the rapid urbanization of the Aluu community, and the very short distance between the Aluu health centre, and the permanent site of the teaching hospital. As part of the minimum standard, ‘every medical school must adopt at least one local government area or, better still, its population base, and supervise and coordinate its primary health service facilities, using such facilities as the physical basis for the schools’. K-Dere – a rural Ogoni community, located about 50km from the teaching hospital was chosen as the site of the new facility because:

  • The community has been successfully used by the department for the rural posting of medical students.
  • Members of the community demonstrated support for the project by donating the community-owned health centre, and securing the support of key stakeholders in the health centre (the local government council, and Shell Petroleum Development Company);
  • An agreement with the local government council and the primary health care board to cede the control of the health centre to the department is not yet concluded.

The K-Dere facility is still in its development stage, with the K-Dere community, the University of Port Harcourt, the teaching hospital, the Rivers State Government, the Local Government Council, and the Shell Petroleum Development Company as development partners. The fully developed K-Dere health centre will provide ample training opportunities for the training of not only resident doctors and medical students, but also for Community Health Officers and other categories of health workers.

The Environmental Health Unit

This unit is saddled with the responsibility of maintaining the sanitation of the environment of the teaching hospital. It is however under the control of the occupational/ environmental health unit of the department. It is, therefore, an avenue for the practical training of the residents in various aspects of environmental health.

Although most of the activities of the environmental health unit are now carried out by contractors, it remains the responsibility of the department to provide technical support and ensure the proper execution of the contracts. The occupational/ environmental health unit of the department regularly surveys the hospital to identify environmental health problems, and then proffer solutions for the consideration of the hospital’s management.

MDR-TB treatment Centre

This centre is a 34-bed facility that admits persons with drug-resistant tuberculosis and provides them with care and treatment using second-line anti-TB drugs. It is supported by the Institute of Human Virology of Nigeria (IHVN) and is managed by a Consultant in the department with senior resident doctors assigned to the Program Manager.

Staff Strength:

The Department has 9 Consultants, and 79 other personnel comprising administrative, professional and support staff.

For more details on the scope of work see UPTH Service Charter.
For Protocol of service; see UPTH Service Charter.

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