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Editorial: LMDC’s Concern Must Not Be Misconstrued

Just recently, the Liberia Medical and Dental Council or LMDC through its Chairman, Dr. Robert Kpoto, hosted a news conference in Monrovia on Liberian medical students studying in China. During that news conference, the LMDC called on the Ministries of Health and Social Welfare and Education to place a hold on the government’s scholarship program for Liberians studying medicine in the People’s Republic of China.

The call may have been against the backdrop of the recent concern raised against the under-performance of Liberian medical students returning from China with degrees in medicine. According to the Chairman of the Liberia Medical and Dental Council, Professor Dr. Robert Kpoto, Liberians retuning to the country with medical degrees were below expectation, further regretting that they were even incomparable with Liberians trained here as medical doctors.

The Liberian Commission on Higher Education, through its Director General, Dr. Michael Slawon, also expressed serious concern about the situation, noting that it had no statistics on Chinese universities and colleges to which Liberian students were nominated for foreign studies. Dr. Slawon quoted reports from China as indicating that foreign medical students, especially from Liberia, were not allowed to do their practical in Chinese Hospitals because the Chinese Government did not trust their level of experience.

This concern, raised by the Liberia Medical and Dental Council and backed by the Commission on Higher Education, seemed not to have gone down well with a number of Liberians, especially those who may have one way or the other studied in China or their relatives, friends and loved ones, some of whom attributed the LMDC’s concern to the fact that those already in the medical profession were in support of the emergence of the younger generation of medical doctors.

While many may be in sympathy with the sentiments expressed by these individuals owing to the gullibility of our Liberia society, they must also be made to understand that live is so precious that those (Medical Doctors) charged with the responsibility to preserve it must have no professional inadequacies.

Perhaps it was because of the professional inadequacies and lapses observed by the Liberia Medical and Dental Council in the performance of these young “medical doctors” from China over the months that the council thought to raised the ‘red flag’ for tomorrow. While China’s contribution to our country’s post-war  reconstruction and development must be hailed, it is also important to make known to the Government of the people’s Republic of China that in as much as we do appreciate its numerous assistance, the right things must also be done in the interest of the bilateral relations subsisting between us.

Our brothers and sisters expressing these negative sentiments against the Liberia Medical and Dental Council must be informed that unlike China, the UK, Australia, Germany, France and Canada allow foreign students studying medicine to do internship/practical because of the trust in their educational systems.  The decision by the Chinese Government  to disallow foreign  medical studies in China from doing practical may be attributed to the poor quality of medical education and training provided by  certain universities and colleges in that country.

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This is why we are in total agreement with Liberia Medical and Dental Council and Commission on Higher Education for their involvement in the recruitment/vetting of Liberian beneficiaries of foreign scholarships. While we appreciate these foreign ‘good wills’ directed at the human resource development of our country, there must be opportunities wherein the Government of Liberia, through those charged with the responsibility of coordinating foreign scholarship programs, is allowed to identify (through the same bilateral arrangements) credible universities, colleges and other institutions in donor countries for the betterment of not only our scholarship students, but the interest of the nation.

It is our belief that the concern raised by the Liberia Medical and Dental Council regarding the poor performance of Liberian medical students returning from studies in China is legitimate and must not be misconstrued on the basis of sentiments and relationships. The call by the LMC to revisit the process of vetting beneficiaries of foreign medical scholarships is a move worth commending.

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