Liberia Holds First National Science Conference to Build Resilient Health Sector

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Monrovia – The first Emmet A. Dennis National Scientific Conference, kicked off Monday in Monrovia. The three days of deliberation which is convening at the Millennium Guest House is being held under the Theme: “Fostering the Culture of Evidence-based Public Health Practice and Research in Liberia.

In his opening remarks, the Director General of the National Public Health Institute of Liberia, Tolbert Nyenswah, informed the participants that the organization of the conference is traced to the Ebola virus that devastated the Liberian society and kicked over 5000 persons. According to the NPHIL boss, in order to build a resilient health sector to better responding to any infectious disease, there is a need for scientific and sustained research in Liberia. He thanked the partners that are collaborating with NPHIL for the support and cooperation.

Also speaking at the opening session, the President of the University of Liberia Dr. Ophelia Weeks underscored the importance of research in Liberia. She admonished the participants, especially students to take the conference seriously and see this as an opportunity to learn. The UL President thanked the National Public Health Institute of Liberia and the Liberia Field Epidemiology Training Program for collaborating with the University of Liberia for the conference and called for its sustainability.

Delivering the keynote address, Dr. Emmet A. Dennis, former President of the University of Liberia in whose honor the conference is named, told the gathering that if Liberia must develop as a society of research, training must be seen as a major contributing factor. According to Dr. Dennis, Liberia, including its institutions of higher learning remains plagued with insufficiently trained and, the experienced human capital. “We build roads without enough qualified engineers to maintain the roads; we give degrees without the requisite of four faculties with terminal degrees in each academic department”

He said Liberia and its institutions still want insufficiently qualified an experienced human capacity to successfully implement their development agendas. He recommended that the Government of Liberia invests in having at least 300 Liberians enrolled yearly in research-based graduate programs for at least the next 15 to 20 years. “The volume of qualitative research from a research institute or tertiary institutions is directly proportional to the academic and scholarly qualitative profile and a number of its PI’s and faculty”.

He also indicated that it is clear that a major reality and hindrance of doing substantial sustainable research In public health and biomedicine in Liberia is the severe dearth of sufficiently qualified and experience Liberian human capital and the infrastructure for significant, and relevant research. He further revealed that much of the prerogative for biomedical research have resided in external researchers and collaborators with programs and projects that did not lead to the substantial training of Liberia researchers.

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