Liberia: NPHIL Director: “Covid Presented Unprecedented Global Challenges”

Scientists, international guests, local authorities and NPHIL staff at the 3rd edition of the Emmet A. Dennis National Scientific Conferenc

The Director General of the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL), Dr. Jane A. Macauley, said the Covid-19 pandemic presented unprecedented global disruption and challenges, sparing no country or institution, including the NPHIL.

Macauley said since the pandemic, like many other institutions, NPHIL re-prioritized and restructured all of its programs and activities in alignment with its statutory duties while also following scientific findings and best practices for controlling the pandemic.

She made the remarks at the kickoff of the 3rd edition of the Emmet A. Dennis National Scientific Conference, which runs from August 29-31, 2022. 

Under the theme, “Maintaining Public Health During the Pandemic, the conference is named in honor of the late Dr. Emmet A. Dennis, former President of the University of Liberia (UL), a Liberian scientist and researcher whose scientific contributions at NPHIL and the country are still being remembered. The late Dennis was the first head of the Liberia Institute of Biomedical Research. 

The conference aims to showcase scientists' research work and identify ways to store data for better research purposes as well as to address the most recent and pressing issues lying at the interface between responding to outbreaks and maintaining routine public health services during a pandemic.

Macauley noted that experts will share their views and recent experiences on data collection, information sharing and due diligence methodologies used by local and international scientists for pandemic response.

“I am confident that these three days will offer you plenty of materials for reflection and use in scientific methods as well as in policy development at the national and regional levels for maintaining public health during a pandemic,” Dr. Macauley noted.

The three-day conference is expected to recognize the best scientists for their immense contributions to the country.

Macauley said the conference is a forum intended to cultivate and incentivize innovations by shedding light on the work of scientists and providing a platform that will showcase their knowledge, collective skills, and scientific techniques.

The NPHIL boss called on researchers in public health and other scientific disciplines to continue to foster innovation and protect the considerable commitments of those who invest in science.

She revealed that over the past years, NPHIL has been engaged with local and international partners and the scientific community to deploy strategic resources in advancing health interventions to prevent, detect and control public health threats amongst the population.

However, she indicated that people and local communities must adhere to and strictly follow public regulations and further learn to invest in the public health infrastructure and systems to improve service to the population now and for generations.

For his part, Dr. Julius S. Nelson, President of the University of Liberia (UL) said the University partnership and collaboration are very important to healthcare for academy excellence and the scientific research sector in Liberia.

“My gratitude and appreciation to all medical personnel for your sacrifices for taking the lead in ensuring that we have safe health care in Liberia,” UL president explained.

Nelson applauded the medical personnel for their sacrifices in ensuring the safe care of hospitals in the country.

Also speaking, the President of the Cuttington University (CU), Dr. Romell Horton said the staff and students of Cuttington University were delighted to be part of a conference that seeks to bring Liberian scientists together.

“Coronavirus tried to stop us from a lot of things but Liberians are very resilient people and we did not allow them to happen. It even tried to keep us down. Our health practitioners, you made us proud during this global pandemic. We are grateful to you for all you did and all you are doing to ensure that this nation remains saved,” Horton said.

Horton said maintaining public health at all times is key and it is everyone’s responsibility including wearing masks and washing hands because it saves one and those around.

“This conference goes beyond just talking about what we need to do but to share our ideas and learn to do research, which is so timely for Liberia. We have named the natural sciences college after Dr. Emmet A. Dennis and we are so glad,” she added.

Randall Dobayou, Deputy Director General of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) added that the EPA is one of those agencies that were established by the government purely for science.

Dobayou said, EPA has been maintaining public health by ensuring that carbon and forests are safe in the country.

He stressed the need for more students to pursue the study of scientific courses, noting that many young people are shying away from science courses on grounds of being difficult to learn.