US Ambassador and Partners Inspect eLearning Platform at Medical College
Monrovia – US Ambassador to Liberia, Ms. Christine Elder, has said that improving Liberia’s general health status and strengthening its health care delivery system is a priority to her country’s government.
Report by Bettie Johnson-Mbayo, [email protected]
Amb. Elder led a high-level visit of Americans on a tour of the A.M Dogloitti College of Medicine Tuesday, May 22. They were on the campus to observe a new eLearning platform implemented by the U.S Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) through support from U.S President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).
The US diplomat and her fellow Americans were guarded on the tour by Dr. Bernice Dahn, Vice President, University of Liberia College of Health Sciences and Dr. Lawrence Sherman, Assistant Dean A.M Dogloitti School of Medicine.
Making remarks, Amb. Elder said the eLearning platform used at the medical college represents an important contribution toward achieving the goal of having prepared medical students.
She praised the students and faculty for their unwavering commitment in the face of serious challenges in the health and educational sectors.
“We just can’t produce enough in Liberia; we are working hard to improve the Liberian health sector. The faculty and administrators are doing everything to increase the number of healthcare workers in this country.
“The specialty takes time and we stand by to help raise the technical capacity. We are here today so that students and faculty can be up to date with the materials that they are learning and teaching, electronically.”
She further stated that eLearning is important as it will improve learning conditions of students and faculty.
The eLearning program is part of the HRSA’s Resilient and Responsive Health Systems (RRHS) Initiative, a five-year, US$9.5 million grant.
It is a component of Liberia’s national health workforce program, a seven-year inter-ministerial initiative designed to achieve targeted improvements in the quality, quantity, and skill diversity of the national health workforce. The goal is to improve access to safe quality services in Liberia.
The prime recipient of the RRHS grant, Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, subcontracts three other institutions, including Yale School of Medicine, that are working to strengthen the health education system in Liberia.
Both Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Yale School of Medicine work at the Dogloitti on several interventions, including strategic planning, curriculum restructuring and permanent faculty development through teaching apprenticeships and study abroad.
The program also supports the visiting faculty, new campus development, teaching improvements and eLearning platform development.
Dr. Bernice Dahn, Vice President, University of Liberia College of Health Sciences, outlined several challenges ranging from low budgetary support to the medical college, and failure to expand the facility despite the increase in enrollment at the college.
She said 24 students graduated in 2017 adding that there are only three faculty, something she attributed to low budgetary support to recruit foreign lecturers.
Dr. Dahn, who is a former Minister of Health, recommended for an introduction of pre-medical program in high school something she said if done will increase the number of medical students and health practitioners.
Also speaking, the Assistant Dean of the College, Dr. Sherman, disclosed that there are currently 203 students enroll at the medical college.
“We need to restructure our curriculum to be up to speed like other medical colleges in the region and worldwide.”
He also recommended that the college needs permanent full-time faculty adding that the completion of the Fendall Dormitory will increase the enrollment of medical students.
“We have two dormitories here and only one is really functioning. Imagine five to eight students in a room that is a serious challenge for us.
“We also want to change the years of studies from nine to seven. That is if the pre-medical program is extended by education authority,” Dr. Sherman states.
The A.M Dogloitti Assistant Dean pleaded with partners to help upgrade all the pre-clinical facilities on the campus.
Some students commended the U.S government for the impact of their aid on their studies.
Alexander Magona, a third year medical student, said eLearning has improved their way of learning despite still reading from books.
According to him, in time past, students had to do photocopies to have access to learning materials as compare to now. Students are being taught through power point.
“We are happy for the initiative, the only problem we have is for teachers to update their lessons.”
He spoke of how poor the medical college lab is and asked the Americans to provide assistance toward equipping their lab with some of the latest medical technologies.