Invest in research programs

The former President of the University of Liberia (UL) Dr. Emmet Dennis, calls on the Government of Liberia (GoL) to invest more in capacity building programs for research and development.

Dr. Dennis, in his recommendation, urges government to invest in having at least 300 Liberians annually in research based graduate programs for the next 15 to 20 years.

He made the recommendation Monday, 27 August at the first annual Emmet A. Dennis Scientific Conference held in his honor for his numerous roles in scientific research during many decades in Liberia.

The conference, which is being held in Monrovia under the theme: “Fostering the culture of evidence-based public health practice and research in Liberia,” is co-organized by the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL), the Field Epidemiology Training Program and the University of Liberia.

“Liberia and its institutions are still wanting in sufficiently qualified and experienced human capacity to successfully implement their development agendas,” says Dr. Dennis.

“The need is so urgent, particularly for our tertiary educational institutions, that must provide the qualified human capital for government, that I would recommend that the Government of Liberia invests in having at least 300 Liberians in research based graduate programs for at least the next 15-20 years,” he recommends.

He observes that much has been and is being accomplished since the end Ebola virus disease (EVD) relative to strengthening health delivery system based on its four pillars, namely; the establishment of NPHIL, strengthening of the College of Physicians and Surgeons and UL Medical School, among others.

However, he said despite these achievements, more needs to be done in the health sector, especially in the area of medical research.

“It is clear that major reality and hindrance in doing substantial sustainable research in public health and biomedicine in Liberia is the severe dearth of sufficiently qualified and experienced Liberian human capital and the infrastructure for significant, and for relevant research. As such, historically, much of the prerogative for biomedical research have resided in external researchers and collaborators with programs and projects that did not lead to substantial training of Liberian researchers,” he points out.

Current UL President, Dr. Ophelia Innez Weeks, thanks the organizers for having the conference in honor of her predecessor (Dr. Dennis) who, according to her, has made tremendous mark in the area of scientific research and study.

“Sometimes it is difficult for us to appreciate when we have the good thing. Sometimes we have to have death before we appreciate life; sometimes we have to be sick before we appreciate wellness; we have to have torrential rain before we appreciate the sunshine,” Dr. Weeks notes.

She discloses that the UL through its Faculty Senate has approved a Bachelor Degree Program in Public Health and Master’s Degree Program in Public Health, respectively.

She hopes and prays that this milestone achievement will lead to the establishment of a School of Public Health in the country.

“We are also in the process of putting in place a Vice President for Health Sciences and number of people in this room on the selection committee of that person,” she further discloses.

Madam Nuwo Howard, Acting Minister of Health, stresses the urgent need for scientific research and study in order to reduce public health threats by promoting disease prevention.

“We must study in a new and systematic ways to prevent diseases. It is our hope that Liberia is on the platform for international research and study,” she adds.

Former UL President Dr. Emmet Dennis–Editing by Jonathan Browne

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