Maternal Child Survival Program/Human Resources and Health (MCSP/HRH) Liberia’s Chief of Party (COP), Marion Subah, has underscored the need for government to invest in pre-service health education programs to augment the strength of the sector.
Mrs. Subah made the call at a program marking the official end of the Maternal and Child Survival Program Human Resources for Health (MCSP/HRP) Learning and Dissemination Event hosted yesterday, September 13, at a resort in Monrovia.
The well-arranged and time bound program was hosted under the theme, “Celebrating and Promoting Sustainable Pre-Service Education for Quality Human Resources for Health in Liberia: MCSP/HRH Empowering Midwives and Medical Laboratory Technicians (MLTs).”
The MCSP/HRH project is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
“It will be important that sustained intentional effort and investment are put in place to ensure that the pre-service education remains robust to have a long-lasting impact on the quality of healthcare, especially for the women and children,” Madam Subah said in her presentation about results of the project’s achievements and/or accomplishments.
The USAID-funded MCSP/HRH is supporting the Liberian Government’s commitment to strengthening the country’s health workforce through the project.
The project is focused on strengthening pre-service education for registered MTLs in targeted institutions throughout the country.
MCSP aims to strengthen and expand a fit-for-purpose, productive, and motivated health workforce to end preventable child and maternal deaths.
Madam Subah said the program was initiated after realizing that Liberia has one of the lowest number of professional healthcare workers in the world.
According to her, a survey established that instead of having 45 health workers to 10,000 populations, it had 11.8 healthcare providers to 10,000 persons.
She also indicated that the Ebola outbreak, which occurred between 2014 and 2015, highlighted the crisis that was exacerbated by a major gap in health workers’ skills.
“As part of rebuilding the country’s health system, transformation of pre-service education (PSE) was prioritized so that it could produce a fit-for purpose, productive and motivated health workforce,” Madam Subah said.
She said that the program placed special emphasis on midwives and medical lab technicians as cadres that were critically low, and were crucial for reduction of unacceptably high maternal mortality rate of 1072 to 100, 000 live birth, considered one of the highest rates in the world.
The objectives of the program were to increase the quality of instruction at targeted pre-service training institutions by upgrading the technical competencies and teaching skills of faculty, including clinical preceptors, and strengthening curricula, course materials and delivery of both didactic and clinical training.
It was to also strengthen the learning environment at targeted pre-service training instructions and teaching sites in a comprehensive way through improved access to high-quality instructional resources, equipment and technology.
Madam Subah said that during the project’s assessment, they discovered a limited number of qualified midwifery and medical laboratory technology in pre-service education leaders and managers, faculty and preceptors, as well as limited or non-teaching materials to facilitate student learning.
“Skills and practicum labs did not have sufficient anatomic models and supplies for practice in simulation, while all computer labs needed to be strengthened or established,” she told the gathering comprising high profile individuals, among them former ministers of Health Drs. Walter Gwenigale and Bernice Dahn, both of whom were honored for their respective “invaluable contributions to the project.”
United States Ambassador to Liberia, Christina Elders, told the gathering that amid the growing challenges, “The bottom line is that at the close of the project, we have more trained midwives and laboratory technicians to provide care to women and children.”
“We are convinced that we will soon be seeing the desired results of this investment: reduced morbidity and mortality among women and children, hoping that the gains we have made will be sustained and the strategies employed will be adapted and scaled for greater national impact,” Elders said.