— Country Director for U.S. Centers for Disease and Prevention says
Dr. Desmond Williams, Country Director for the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, says the Liberia’s experience will be used to end the Ebola epidemic outbreak in Uganda.
Dr. Williams made the remarks at the 1st certificate in Health Systems Leadership and Management graduation, which coincided with the launch of the university’s 5-year strategic plan, held at the A. M. Dogliotti campus in Congo Town.
The program, held under the theme: “Building Resilient Health Work Force,” brought together the university’s partners, including WHO Representative in Liberia, Dr. Mesfin G. Gbelo, HRSA Country Representative Dr. George Tidwell, Dr. Onyema Ogbuagu from Yale School of Medicine, CEO of John F. Kennedy medical center Dr. Jerry Brown and other distinguished partners.
Dr. Williams, who served as keynote speaker, reminded Liberians never to forget the history of Ebola in West Africa, indicating that the new outbreak of Ebola in DR Congo has now spread to Uganda.
Concerning the Ebola outbreak in Liberia, Dr. Williams noted that, “Ebola continues to teach Liberians lessons about the disease and the health system in the country.”
He said the lessons include the need for careful planning and establishment of management, staffing, and infections prevention protocols and policies that would allow for hospitals to operate during outbreaks without serving as amplification grounds for infections.”
Dr. Williams told the graduates that being the inaugural class comes with some special responsibilities “as you are now blessed with the responsibility of showcasing your skills and setting the path of future graduates of this program in Liberia.”
According to him, Liberia often finds itself deploying clinicians straight from the classroom to manage challenging healthcare delivery systems and facilities without any formal or informal training in healthcare management and administration.
“This course was specifically designed to impart the skills required to build a resilient health care delivery system and is a key component of the newly-established (2018) UL College of Health Sciences School of Public Health,” Dr. Williams said.
Dr. Williams continued: “Use the training and skills you have obtained from this class to shake up the system and demand the change that is required to strengthen the quality of care provided by your institution. Lives matter and decisions you will make will have a direct impact on people’s lives.”
Dr. Ophelia Inez Weeks, President of the University of Liberia (UL), lauded partners for the level of support provided over the years to the university and said her administration is poised to make the university part of the best 20 universities in Africa in seven years.
These programs also coincided with the University of Liberia’s centennial celebration, which follows series of programs.
Dr. Bernice Dahn, vice president for health services at the UL’s A. M. Dogliotti College of Health Science, said presently, the university has severe shortage of faculty, infrastructure, and resources at the school.
She said the university is poised to re-establish the A. M. Dogliotti as a regional standard-bearer for quality medical education.
Dr. Dahn said the five-year strategic plan outlines the roadmap for achieving the vision, stating that the plan is to create a campus master plan for the school and launch a fundraising effort to make the vision a reality.
Commenting on the certificate in health systems leadership and management course graduation, Dr. Dahn said the course marks an important milestone in Liberia, taking ownership and responsibility for the country’s workforce.
“We need local, sustainable trainings that are owned by Liberia’s educational institutions. Many of the funding invested in capacity-building by Liberia’s partners is spent on ad hoc workshops and fly-in-fly-out trainings,” she said.
Dr. Dahn indicated that the beneficiaries of the program were managers and supervisors at the JFK Medical Center and Redemption Hospital and expected to take their new skills into these important facilities to serve everyone.
According to him, the value of the course is to institutionalize a professional training in a key competency for health workers and administrators in public university system.
“We are proud and grateful to today’s graduates for the time and efforts invested in the course, while also remaining committed to their full-time duties at their home institutions,” she added.
According Dr. Dahn, she was honored to join the university at this pivotal moment in its history, especially under the leadership of President Ophelia Inez Weeks and to also lead the college of health sciences in commemorating the university’s centennial anniversary.
She recounted that the during the medical school’s early decades, it attracted students throughout the region and its graduates move to excel in training and practice both in Liberia and throughout Africa.
“We are grateful to the A. M. Dogliotti for ensuring that we have physicians in Liberia during the war. The war itself seriously compromised the quality of medical education, as it damaged the very fabric of Liberian society. The school has remained open and continued to train physicians for the country,” she indicated.
WHO Representative in Liberia Dr Mesfin G. Gbelo officially launched the university’s 5-year strategic plan. Dr. Gbelo urged the graduates to make maximum use of the knowledge acquired to serving the Liberian people.