Liberia is expected to unveil at least 64 new doctors and pharmacists at this year’s graduation. Of the total number 35 are doctors, while 29 are pharmacists.
The prospective graduates will leave the walls of the A. M. Doglioitti College of Medicine and the School of Pharmacy of the University of Liberia on December 16, 2015, to bolster the nation’s healthcare delivery sector.
About 61 of the new medical practitioners on Saturday, November 28, 2015, on the University’s Fendall Campus vowed to remain committed to the delivery of effective healthcare when they took the Oath of Maimonides (Administered to 29 Pharmacy Students) and the Hippocratic Oath (Administered to 31 Medical doctors.)
The program was graced by several speakers, many of whom urged the candidates to aim for the highest level of integrity and honesty in the discharge of their responsibilities. Among the guests were Dr. Frederick B. Norkeh, Minister of Post and Telecommunication, who delivered the keynote address, deputizing for Vice President Joseph Boakai.
Speaking on the topic: “Upholding Ethical Standards: An Attribute of Discipline and Integrity,” Dr. Norkeh said “society everywhere is plagued with the vices of selfishness and double standards.”
“Great men and women are sadly drifting from ethnics and self-discipline at the expense of mere material gains and at the expense of those very ones they are called to serve,” he said. “This cancerous plague ages as far back as the emergence of men on this planet, but in today’s world, we see an avalanche of great men fall from the throne to the dungeon,” Minister Norkeh noted
Reflecting on the fight against corruption in places such as FIFA and in countries such as Brazil, China, Ghana, and our own Liberia, Minister Norkeh wondered whether integrity mattered anymore.
“These are all consequences of great servants who are shamelessly drifting to compromise their integrity through ethical breach,” he said. “My questions to you honorees are: ‘Will you uphold your ethical standards as servants of humanity?’ Will the issue of pay increase and incentive override your service to your people?’”
But the Minister answered those questions in the affirmative, saying, “Members of this Honorable Class of 2015, I have no doubt that you are fully aware of your responsibilities to society; that you will keep your vows you have made before men and God today in this auditorium to cross all barriers in the discharge of your duties to humanity; that you will be prepared to take up assignment in places such as Karnplay, Nimba County; Vahun, Lofa County; or even in Juazon, Sinoe County.”
Addressing the challenges which continue to plague the healthcare delivery sector, Dr. Norkeh warned: “We should not be misconstrued as being naïve of the gigantic challenges facing our health system, but your profession requires tremendous sacrifices,” stating that there was no question about the need to improve the work environment of healthcare workers in the country.
The Minister said the age old issue of inadequate logistics, which was compounded by the incredibly low remuneration to physicians, was of grave concern to National Government.
For his part, the Dean of the Medical School, Dr. V. Kanda Golakai, said the last academic year—and the year that has prevented the country from making any progress—were two of the most difficult years he can remember since his ascendency as dean.
And part of the difficulties, he said, was the fact that the medical school lost several important faculty and students to the deadly Ebola Virus. Paying homage to them, Dr. Golakai requested that a moment of silence be observed in remembrance of all those who died from the institution.
Shifting into an optimistic tone, Dean Golakai said he hopes to surpass by next graduation the number of graduates the two schools were graduating.
“By 2017, we hope the Medical School will produce 50 doctors and School of Pharmacy between 30 and 50 pharmacists,” he said. “We are committed to produce qualified persons in all disciplines so that the emphasis can’t be on medicine and pharmacy,” he added. “As a result, four months ago, we started an Articulation Program to provide for the first time a public option in degree Nursing and Midwifery. We have admitted 20 students and hope by 2017/18 to present them here as indeed qualified for the nursing and midwifery professions.”
But it was his mention of new degree programs to the College of Life and Health Sciences which elicited a wall-rattling applause from the audience. “We shall go on to start new programs in biomedical engineering, a degree program for physician assistant, a degree program in dentistry, in public and environmental heath and several other appropriate professions to support the health profession,” he added.
The ceremony also serves as the occasion for presenting many awards to faculty, staff and health professionals who distinguished themselves during the academic year.
The Pharmacy Elder of the Year award was given to Pharm. Beyan K. Johnson, Chairman of the Liberian Pharmacy Board for his distinguished contribution to the Pharmacy profession over the years.
Dr. Z’Sherman Adams, Jr. Associate Professor and Chairman of the Department of Physiology & Neuroscience Pre-clinical Coordinator was awarded the Medical Elder/Committed Hardworking Professor of the Year.
And Pharm. Joseph N.B., Acting Chairman of the Department of Pharmacology, received the Instructor of the Year award. Several graduating seniors also received individual awards for overall best performance in Anatomy, Biochemistry, Surgery, Pathology, and Microbiology & Parasitology, among others.