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Liberian Health Practitioners Return Home After Week-long Training At Yale

Several Liberian health practitioners including the county’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Bernice T. Dahn have returned home following a week-long training at Yale University, USA.

Other participants are S. Tornorlah Varpilah, Deputy Minister of Planning; Musu Washington, Chief Nursing Officer; Jennie Bernard, Former Chief Nursing Officer; Dr. Rhoda Roberts-Peters, Bomi County Health Officer; Dr. Saygbeh Vanyanbah, Grand Bassa County Health Officer; and Genevieve Barrow, Research Coordinator and Advisor.

The training program dubbed the Global Health Leadership Institute’s 2010 conference, “Building Leadership for Health” focus on particular health issues affecting participants’ country, with Liberia’s priority being reducing maternal mortality.

Current statistics put the country’s maternal mortality rate at an estimated 994/100,000 live births (Liberia Demographic and Health Survey).Responding to this paper’s inquiry via e-mail about the Liberian delegation, the Institute’s Executive Director, Mike Skonieczny confirmed that reducing maternal mortality is a priority for Liberia.

Mr. Skonieczny said it is against this backdrop that the Ministry of Health assembled a country delegation to participate in the conference with a focused objective of improving the quality and access of emergency obstetric care services here.

“This strong commitment is also displayed by President Sirleaf, who is Chair of the Women’s Health Commission of Africa, which is an important platform for creating the political will to support efforts that reduce maternal mortality,” he said.

“The Global Health Leadership Institute is a new program at Yale,” says Skonieczny “and this was our second annual conference.” “Our current focus is to maintain contact with the delegations who have participated in the first two conferences, including Liberia, and support their efforts to make progress on their selected health issues,” he said.

Delegates, after the conference, return to their home countries to implement and advocate for the plans, approaches and tools shared and developed at the conference.

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He said it is hope that the delegation’s work at Yale will help facilitate further progress in reducing maternal mortality here. 

The Global Health Institute executive director said during the week-long conference at Yale, the Liberian delegation, together with other delegations from Ethiopia, Ghana, and Rwanda, participated in lectures, cross-country discussions, and workshops centered on strategic problem solving and leadership.

He said each delegation used these sessions to focus on a particular health issue in their country.  The Liberian delegation, he added focused on strategies to develop a strong and improved emergency obstetric care (EmOC) system that serves pregnant women and newborns in 45 health facilities in catchment communities across here.

On the issue of brain drain, which affects most of the participating countries including Liberia, Skonieczny acknowledged that brain drain in the health sector is a critical issue.

He advanced that developing educational programs that support local training institutional capacity is one method put in place to reduce the exodus of health practitioners and other professionals who seek greener pastures abroad despite their needed services back home.

Skonieczny: “We believe that it is important to develop educational programs that support local training and institutional capacity building.  In Liberia, Yale partnered with Mother Patern College of Health Sciences to develop a health management certificate program for middle-level managers.

Since launch of the development program in 2007, Mother Patern College has fully adapted the curriculum and administers the certificate program independently.  We have similar programs in Ethiopia and China.

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