TANZANIA—Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (MUHAS) has unveiled its plan to transform into a medical academic city by 2050 through a US$45.5 million grant from the Higher Education for Economic Transformation (HEET) project.
The HEET project, with a total of US$425 million is the Tanzanian government’s effort together with the World Bank to improve higher education provision in the country.
The university revealed the plan to renovate and build two campuses of Mloganzila and Kigoma, as well as improve the learning and teaching infrastructure at the main campus in Dar es Salaam.
The university also launched an Industrial Advisory Committee with more than 30 experts along with Curriculum Review Training.
The committee was mandated to provide advice and link between the different industries represented by the MUHAS curriculum to ensure courses are in demand and are relevant to a changing and dynamic world.
MUHAS Vice Chancellor, Prof Andrea Pembe, said they have planned to revive and prepare curricula, educate staff, and set up modern ICT infrastructure and digital systems for teaching and improving administrative work.
At Mloganzila, he said the university expects to establish a college of medicine and a new MUHAS campus will be built in Kigoma Ujiji.
Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology, Prof. James Mdoe, said during the launching that the project was expected to revive and prepare more than 300 curricula across the country in five years.
In the case of MUHAS, 79 curricula will be updated so that they are in line with the real needs of the higher education market and enable graduates to be self-employed.
“The establishment of the Mloganzila campus will help achieve the college’s vision of reforming and becoming a Medical Academic City by 2050,” added Prof Mdoe.
The university also plans to conduct a general expansion by increasing the admission of students, including international students, from the current 4,400 to 15,000 by 2030.
According to Prof. Bruno Sunguya, Deputy Vice Chancellor-Research, the medical college at Mloganzila will encompass not only dormitories, classrooms, and laboratories but also several specialized hospitals.
He stated, “The presence of specialist hospitals on these campuses is not only an opportunity for our students to receive practical training easily but also to facilitate convenient treatment for heart, cancer, diabetes, and other diseases.”
In addition, the hub will support the discovery of medicines and cures through research, while also contributing to the production of more experts in non-communicable diseases.
The government’s objective to establish Tanzania as a medical tourism hub, which includes relocating medical services to peripheral regions of the country, is the primary motivation behind the construction of the Kigoma campus.
Prof. Bruno further explained, “All these strategies are aimed at making this college a sanctuary for medical education and the provision of expert medical services to both the local population and international visitors.”
MUHAS shines in global rankings
MUHAS, the Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences, has achieved recognition in global rankings, solidifying its position among the top universities in the world.
According to the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2023, MUHAS has secured a place within the top 500 universities globally.
This acknowledgment reflects the university’s remarkable efforts in enhancing the quality of its programs.
MUHAS is one of the 14 government universities benefiting from the HEET project, which aims to enhance service delivery in higher education.
Among these universities, MUHAS and the University of Dar es Salaam have received the largest share of funding, with US$45.5 million and US$47 million respectively.
This support is instrumental in enabling these institutions to improve their overall performance and provide better educational opportunities.
MUHAS’s achievements in global rankings underscore its commitment to academic excellence, but the university and the broader education sector must address the pressing issue of low admission rates to meet the growing demand for qualified healthcare professionals in Tanzania.
Low uptake of students
Despite these achievements, concerns have been raised regarding MUHAS’s low admission rates.
During the 2022/2023 student selection process, MUHAS received a staggering 27,540 applications for various programs in the first round.
Out of these, only 19,287 applicants met the eligibility criteria, but the university could admit only a maximum of 800 students in that round.
Eventually, 866 students were selected, leaving 18,421 applicants unable to secure a place.
This shortage of qualified healthcare professionals is a significant concern, highlighting the inadequacy of institutions in training healthcare professionals, especially in specialized fields.
For instance, Tanzania requires approximately 9,000 critical care nurses to meet the current patient needs, according to the Tanzania Critical Care Nurses Association (TCCNA). However, the country’s higher learning institutions produce only about 400 general nurses annually, and MUHAS is the sole provider of qualified critical care nurses, producing merely 10 per year.
To address these challenges, the HEET program focuses on expanding the intake capacity of higher education institutions by establishing campuses across the country.
This initiative aims to bridge the gap between the demand for healthcare professionals and the limited training opportunities available.
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