In an effort to orientate prospective medical practitioners who were recently accepted for enrollment at the Cuttington Graduate School’s Department of Health Sciences, authorities convened a one day public health policy dialogue with major stakeholders in the sector.
The meeting brought together panelists who discussed with officials from the National Public Health Institute of Liberia, UNDP-Liberia, FAO and the US Embassy in Monrovia.
James B. Jallah, head of the department, who was the organizer of the dialogue, said the exercise was meant to broaden students’ understanding on public health policies.
“Today we are gather here with our panelists for the purpose of understanding public health policies and management which, as a result, our students would become creative to maintain and balance the health sector upon their graduation,” he said.
The panelists commended the dialogue planners, who concentrated on current health policies and the crafting and implementation of those policies.
They further thanked the event organizers for creating an avenue where young students could understand public health policies.
Tolbert Nyensuah, director-general of the National Public Health Institute, who was one of the four panelists, said that public health policies and plans are based on global goals that every nation works toward.
“This must be tailored toward something everyone is working to achieve. Our health plan and policy need to reflect our priority areas. We need not to work in isolation, but with other global bodies who are also working in a similar direction. We need to know our priority as a country,” he said.
Nyensuah said that the policy gives legal strategists direction that must be backed with a plan to implement, adding, “A successful policy must have a content, context, actors and process.”
He spoke to the students, who were comprised of graduating seniors and incoming students.
On policy implementation, another panelist, Madam Mona Sankoh, from the office of security cooperation at the US Embassy, told the students that the monitoring and evaluation framework is essential to the implementation of policy as it is carried out for accountability purposes.
Madam Sankoh noted that health services, workforce, essential medicine, finance, health infrastructure, leaders and governments are building-blocks that lead to health policies.
Njoya Tikum, one of the UNDP-Liberia program officers, said that policy implementation is based on the entire state instead of only a part of it.
Mr. Tikum admonished the students to be critical thinkers as they will be called upon in the future to analyze health policy.
“It is possible that tomorrow, the nation will rely on you to analyze health policy; therefore, you must think critically,” he added.
He applauded the nation’s health sector for achieving some goals thus far, and also challenged students to think positively when it comes to national development.
“Since 2003, I have observed an upward move in the country to achieve some goals taking into consideration some of the negatives the country has experienced,” Tikum said.
Al-Hassan Cisse, FAO-Liberia Policy Advisor, warned that the policy achieves little when intersectional coordination dialogue is ignored.
Cisse said that intersectional coordination makes policy implementation plans less burdensome as all parties would function collectively.
He cautions students of the health sciences department that policies must have an impact on the people.
The department of health sciences at the Cuttington Graduate School is an innovative effort of Professor Cecelia A. Morris.
The school’s six programs account for 40-50 percent of the student population and have graduated 371 students since it was established in 2004.