The alumni association of the A.M. Dogliotti College of medicine has announced plans and calendar of events leading to the celebration of the College’s fifty plus one year of existence and its contribution to the Liberian community.
In an interview with journalists yesterday, some members of the pending July 6 ceremonies said all is set for the College, in collaboration with the faculty and administration of the University of Liberia to once again appreciate God for His immense blessings bestowed upon the College since its founding in 1968.
The chairperson of the alumni association of the A.M. Dogliotti College of Medicine, Dr. Celina O. Zayzay said the event is not just about merry making but a mission to undertake a project which will be of great significance to the forward march of the College.
Dr. Zayay said the program marking the celebration of the College’s fifty first (51st) anniversary is divided into three parts, including a walk from the main compound of John F. Kennedy Hospital to the college’s campus situated adjacent the St. Joseph Catholic Hospital in Sinkor and a football as well as a kickball match between the alumni and the Liberia National Bar Association (LNBA).
“On July 6 our former instructors, administrators and others will join us in a walk from JFK to the A.M. Dogliotti campus, behind Catholic Hospital. The walk will be known as a walk for health for all,” Dr. Zayzay said.
She added that both the male and female doctors will welcome the lawyers in the country at the sports pitch on the A.M. Doliotti campus and lock horns with them in sports as a way of letting the public know that good healthcare is everybody’s business.
Meanwhile Dr. Zayzay also said that there will be a dinner program held at Bella Casa in Sinkor, to raise funds for the construction of a modern clinical laboratory for students of the A.M. Dogliotti.
“The clinical demonstration lab, when built, will be the first of its kind at the college since its founding over fifty years ago,” she said.
She estimated the cost of the project at nearly US$30,000.
Dr. Zayzay added that the clinical demonstration lab, when built, will help alleviate or eradicate the college’s lack of a demonstration space for its students.
“Even when we were in the medical school, lack of a clinical demonstration lab was a challenge. We didn’t have somewhere we could directly practice some of the procedures we learnt about in class. The school has a lab but clinical demonstration lab is where an individual is taught basic skills,” she said.
She noted further that as of 1968 up to the outbreak of the civil war in 1989, the Dogliotti Foundation (Italian), named ‘Holy See’, hugely supported the A.M. Dogliotti College of Medicine in Liberia.
In support of Dr. Zayzay’s awareness to the public about the pending observance and celebrations of the anniversary, Dr. Sovich S. Karmorh, co-chairperson of the alumni association, said it is about time that everyone supports the College since it is the only institution yet training medical doctors in the country.
Dr. Karmorh said the celebration of the college’s anniversary is in line with the University of Liberia’s centennial (hundredth) anniversary recently observed in Monrovia.
Another member of the program committee, Dr. Wahdae-Mai Harmon said all those who graduated from the A.M. Dogliotti are urged to give back to the institution which has made all of them.
“We need to give back to our Alma matter. This will not only be about a day’s event but the new project that will continue to hold us together,” she said.
Dr. Gray said tickets are on sale for the dinner and the prices range from US$25 to US$100.
“A.M. Dogliotti students will pay US$25, doctors will pay US$50 and patrons will pay US$100. Everyone is encouraged to give even more as we anticipate raising more money to not only carry out our project but contribute to the college in a several other ways,” she said.
Dr. Gray said there is no need for anyone to think that he or she cannot contribute because other than the dinner which is set aside for the raising of funds, there are souvenir materials on sale already and will be available also on July 6 at the outdoor ceremonies.
“Motorbike or tricycle riders, our women in the markets can come and get A.M. Dogliotti souvenir pens, coffee mugs, T-Shirts for US$2.50, US$5 and US$10 respectively, as well as wrist bands for as low as US$1.50, she said.
She said it is their hope that the Liberian medical education system can be on par with other medical schools in the sub-region and elsewhere.
Since its establishment in 1968, the A.M. Dogliotti College of Medicine has conferred degrees on 498 persons as medical doctors.
Dr. Odell Kumeh, treasurer of the Liberia Medical and Dental and Dental Association (LMDA) and member of the alumni association program committee, said most of the graduates of the A.M. Dogliotti are practicing in the diaspora but they are instrumental in helping Liberia succeed in its quest to have a resilient healthcare system.
Kumeh said about three hundred doctors are still in the country working and they are doing their best to serve amid the critical challenges.
“There is free healthcare for everybody but the clinics many times run out of drugs, essential medical items. We need to support healthcare delivery. The little we give takes us a long way,” she said.
She called on everyone and organizations, including civil society organizations to contribute towards the building of the clinical demonstration lab on the campus of the A.M. Dogliotti.
“We no longer have quacks. We have professionally trained medical doctors doing the job,” she added.
It was President William V. S. Tubman who first envisioned a Medical School in Monrovia to train Medical Doctors for Liberia, in particular, and for Africa at large. He obtained the assistance of the Italian Government, the Vatican and the A.M. Dogliotti Foundation Medical (established in 1966) admitted the first group of first year students.
The College represented an example of a technical cooperative venture involving the Government of Liberia, the Holy See, the Dogliotti Foundation and the Italian Government.
It was then affiliated with the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery of the University of Turin, Italy.
In 1970, the College was merged with the University of Liberia as the seventh academic institution founded by the late Italian philanthropist and founder of the Dogliotti Foundation in Italy. A year later, the John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital was inaugurated and became the teaching hospital of the A. M. Dogliotti College of Medicine.
The first class of medical students entered the clinical program at the John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital in July 1971. In December 1973, the A. M. Dogliotti College of Medicine saw the graduation of the first set of medical students, achieving their degree of Doctor of Medicine (MD).
In 1982, the College reached a milestone with the graduation of its first 100th medical doctor as 16 students graduated in that year.
The support of the Italian Government and the Dogliotti Foundation provided substantial and material support to the College between 1966 and the 1980s, when funding was scaled down (according to plan) before the inception of the 14-year civil war of Liberia which started in December 1989.