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CDC wants quality in Liberia’s health system

The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is challenging graduates of the College of Health Sciences and Leadership Management (CHSLM) to use the certificate they have acquired to develop and execute innovative and productive quality improvement solutions to the health system challenges here.

Delivering a keynote address Thursday, 13 June at the graduation of 20 students from the CHSLM class at the University of Liberia (UL’s) A.M. Doglioti College of Medicine in Congo Town, CDC Director Dr. Desmond E. Williams called for innovative and productive quality improvement solutions at both the Redemption Hospital and JFK – the two most important hospitals in Montserrado.

Dr. Desmond Williams tells the graduates that being the inaugural class at the CHSLM carries with it some special responsibilities because the graduates are now blessed with the responsibility of showcasing their skills and setting the path of future graduates of this program in Liberia.

He stresses that after a devastating Ebola outbreak that killed over 4,000 Liberians, the silver lining is the determination of the Liberian people and government to ensure that they develop resilient and effective systems to withstand such emergencies while maintaining access to health care services.

Dr. Williams expresses observation that Liberia often finds itself deploying clinicians straight from the classroom to manage challenging health care delivery systems and facilities without any formal or informal training in healthcare management and administration.

However, he indicates that 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.

Through this program and other similar programs, Dr. Williams says a lot has been done but “we” still see vulnerabilities in the health care system in Liberia.

“Over the last few months a number of news articles have described challenges in health facilities across Liberia and highlight the need for professionally trained managers to help address these persistent challenges in the health care system,” he observes.

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He notes that the public health system surveillance and laboratory systems have been strengthened to prevent, detect and respond to public health threats but it is dependent on the health care system to deliver the needed care to the affected population.

“One of my most inspiring moments for me as we gained control of the outbreak was the reopening of Redemption Hospital in 2015 and to see dedicated staff returning with confidence to their positions,” he says.
According to him, the hospital was rehabilitated by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) through a grant from USAID OFDA, and since then, Redemption has successfully identified two subsequent Ebola cases without exposing the general hospital population and staff to the infection through the diligence of hospital staff.

Another inspiring moments he says he had was to listen to the latest update from the CEO of JFK Dr Jerry Brown during a recent Health Sector Coordinating Committee meeting on the self-generated self-funded quality improvement projects at JFK.

Dr. Williams explains that the strength of the health care system is the human capital needed to run the health care facilities and the Ministry of Health and its partners designed the Investment Plan for Building a Resilient Health System.

“I am pleased to acknowledge the assistance provided to the Health Workforce Program by international partners and our own US Government Interagency health team that includes the Department of State, USAID, Department of Defense, Peace Corp and our own Department of Health and Human Services,” he adds.

Also speaking, UL President Dr. Ophelia Inez Weeks congratulates the inaugural class of CHSLM for their achievement, and assures that her administration is working to lift UL to a standard of being a part of the best 20 universities in Africa in seven years.

For her part, UL Vice President for the College of Health Sciences Dr. Bernice Dahn announces that UL is gearing up to re-establish the A. M. Dogliotti College of Medicine as a regional standard bearer for quality medical education.

Further, Dr. Dahn explains that the CHSLM certificate course marks an important milestone in Liberia, stressing that Liberia needs local and sustainable trainings that are owned by Liberia’s educational institutions. By Winston W. Parley

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