-Dr. Dahn Says at stakeholders meeting on Public Health Programs
By Bill E. Diggs (UL Intern)
Dr. Bernice Dahn, former Health Minister and a faculty member of the A. M. Dogliotti School of Medicine, on Thursday said that lessons learned from the devastating Ebola epidemic (2014, 2015) has been a catalyst for stakeholders to strengthen its public health workforce to respond to any disease outbreak.
“We all remember Ebola, because the virus thought us some serious lessons, but the one good lesson we learned from there is that if you have a weak public health system, diseases can overwhelm the country and can carry its development programs backward,” Dr. Dahn said.
She said that while the country was responding to Ebola, the Ministry of Health in collaboration with partners developed an investment plan for building a resilient healthcare delivery system.
“That plan,” the former Health Minster said, “has led to the development of a three-level public health program at the University of Liberia (UL).
Dr. Dahn further said “globally there is a continuous emergence of diseases which nations including Liberia need to continuously addressed.”
She spoke at a public health stakeholder’s meeting held at the UL Fendell Campus, where a public health program has been approved to train some high school graduates, graduates and undergraduate students, to ensure that the health workforce is ready to carry on public health function effectively.
The first level of the program will be to enroll high school graduates to receive training that will prepare them to enter into public health workforce in entry-level positions and function effectively in those roles.
Also, the program will focus on training for middle-level health professionals and serve as a bridge program to provide complete undergraduate education and prepare them for graduate-level programs such as the UL Masters of Public Health Program.
UL President, Dr. Ophelia I. Weeks, who said that although the Faculty-senate has approved the curricula for the program, it would begin only if the University Board of Trustees approved.
She said the program was part of the many indicators that the UL was starting to reach new heights in providing Liberians the kind of academic environment that is needed to propel the country forward in all sectors.
“I cannot think of any place for any program to be that is more sustainable than the UL campus, because institutions can come and go, but higher education institutions are the most stable ones that can be counted on to sustain these kinds of programs,” Dr. Dahn said.
Sonpon Sieh, One Health Coordinator; Dr. Masoka Fallah, Deputy Director General for Technical Services at the National Public Health Institute of Liberia; and Dr. William E. Allen, Vice President of Academic Affairs, were part of Thursday’s event. They spoke separately on topics such as, “Vision for a School of Public Health, Public Health Workforce Support under Regional One Health Initiative and the next steps for Operating School of Public Health.”