–Sees Great Prospects for 2020 and Beyond
The Liberia College of Physicians and Surgeons (LCPS) has released its year-in-review for 2019, with its second convocation mentioned prominently in its newsletter.
The LCPS president, Prof. Dr. Robert M. Kpoto, writing in the LCPS’ 19-page newsletter, said even though times were challenging as his medical organization sailed through 2019, he is pleased that there is so much to thank God for.
“We are pleased that God continues to grant us His wonderful blessings as we sail through in our work for country and people. The LCPS is growing and we are becoming a much more results-oriented institution than one sitting and just watching from the fence,” Dr. Kpoto said.
He reported that the LCPS graduate medical residency program is a post graduate medical training program consisting of two constituent colleges, namely, the College of Physicians, which comprises of Faculties of Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, Family Medicine and Psychiatry. The other is the College of Surgeons, which includes Faculties of Surgery, Obstetrics and Gynecology and Ophthalmology.
“The LCPS seeks to meet the Ministry of Health plan of staffing each county’s hospital with specialist doctors by 2021 and beyond. Further, the program also seeks to develop adequate manpower capacity to continuously administer and sustain the specialist and sub-specialist training program,” Dr. Kpoto said.
He added, “The curricula used in each discipline are modeled after the West African College of Physicians and Surgeons (WACPS) and each program has a training duration of three years.”
Since the program was launched in 2013, the LCPS has produced a total of 28 specialist doctors in a number of disciplines.
“In 2017 we were very happy when 13 specialists doctors graduated and in 2018 15 more were added to the number,” he noted, pointing out that the LCPS now has 64 residents in training in the disciplines of internal medicines and pediatrics, among others.
Dr. Kpoto recalled that at the recent convocation, Finance and Development Planning Minister, Samuel Tweah served as the keynote speaker.
“The Finance Minister was very cognizant of the challenges in our field and so he spoke coherently. His message resonated with us, mainly on grounds that the government, led by the Coalition for Democratic Change, will continue to do all it can to elevate the health sector to an appreciable level,” said Minister Tweah.
In a letter addressed to Mr. Kenneth Y. Best, publisher of the Daily Observer newspaper and the Liberian Observer Online, Dr. Benjamin L. Harris, president of LCPS, said “Honestly, we are convinced that if the LCPS succeeds in providing specialist skills and knowledge to our young doctors to make them more clinically professional in handling the complicated cases right here in Liberia, it will become a source of pride for our country as it is for our sister countries in the sub-region.”
The August 26, 2019 letter further told Mr. Best: “To date, amidst a myriad of infrastructural, equipment and financial and faculty challenges, including the lack of adequate logistics, the Liberia College of Physicians and Surgeons (LCPS) has successfully recruited and trained a total of 45 home-grown Liberian medical specialists, many of whom are currently providing clinical services in our teaching hospitals, in the John F. Kennedy Medical Center (JFK) in central Monrovia, Redemption Hospital in New Kru Town, the C. B. Dunbar Memorial Hospital in Gbarnga, Phebe Hospital in Suacoco and Jackson F. Doe Hospital in Tappita.”
Dr. Harris further noted that if LCPS programs get all the support they need, they shall lessen or reduce the financial burden often faced by poor Liberians who are constrained to seek specialist care in Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Europe and elsewhere around the world.
Among the medical professionals mentioned prominently in the LCPS Newsletter were Dr. Victor Ngu, a young Cameroonian surgeon trained in Britain, who conceived the idea of establishing a West African Postgraduate Medical College, which later became the West African College of Surgeons. Similarly, the idea of a Postgraduate Medical College in Liberia was also conceived by a young Liberian, the late Dr. Abraham Saah Borbor, who had earlier completed his post-graduate training in Internal Medicine in Tanzania, East Africa. He was later appointed Head of the Department of Internal Medicine at the John F. Kennedy Medical Center.
It was during one of the morning medical rounds at the JFK that Dr. Borbor proposed to Dr. Robert Momo Kpoto that Liberia should establish its own Postgraduate Medical Training Program.
Following the follow-up meeting, which including Dr. Kpoto, Dr. Borbor, Professor Joseph Njoh, who had just returned from Nigeria to work in the Department of Internal Medicine, and Dr. Benson Barr, former Dean of the A.M. Dogliotti College of Medicine, a proposal was written and given to the Minister of Health Emeritus, Dr. Walter Gwenigale, who immediately requested the Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Bernice Dahn, to form committees to have a Legislative Act passed in December 2012 and signed into handbill by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on May 22, 2013, establishing the Liberia College of Physicians and Surgeons (LCPS). Dr. Roseda E. Marshall, a trained pediatrician, was named the first President and Dr. Stephen B. Kennedy as first Secretary General.
A Technical Working Group (TWG), headed by Dr. Bernice Dahn, subsequently visited Ghana and Nigeria to study the West African model of postgraduate medical training.
All of this culminated in the successful launching of the Liberia College of Physicians and Surgeons on September 30, 2013, by former Vice President of Liberia, Joseph Nyuma Boakai.
In 2017 Dr. Wilhelmina Dahn, who later became Health Minister of Liberia, and four of her colleagues were Certificated
into the Fellowship Program of the LCPS, during its second Annual General Meeting.
The LCPS Department of Surgery is headed by Prof. Dr. Samuel Varney Sherman, a son of Grand Cape Mount County. Varney took his first degree from Cuttington College and Divinity School (now Cuttington University) in 1958. It was an outstanding class that produced four medical doctors, several outstanding theologians, including the Rev. George D. Brown, who later was elected bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Liberia.
The other 1958 Cuttington Classmate was Trinity Cathedral Canon Burgess Carr, who later was appointed General Secretary of the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC), the leading pan-African church body. The other medical doctors the Cuttington Class of 1958 produced were Dr. Kate Bryant, Liberia’s first pediatrician; Dr. Rubell Brewer, Liberia’s first pathologist, and Dr. Joseph Diggs, Liberia’s first professional radiologist. Varney Freeman matriculated, along with classmate Dr. Kate Bryant and classmate Rubell Brewer, to the University of Bologna in Italy, where they were qualified in Medicine. Varney went on to qualify in Surgery in England, and returned to Liberia to work with the LAMCO Hospital in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County. During his sojourn at the LAMCO Hospital in Buchanan, he performed the first Solo Surviving Brain Surgery in Liberia. During the Liberian civil crisis, Dr. Freeman worked as a surgeon in several hospitals in the United Kingdom.
Another rising surgeon in Liberia, product of the LCPS, is Dr. Lawuobah Gbozee, MD, MLCS, who was voted on October 28, 2018 with the distinction as the best performing resident in the Faculty of Surgery.