The Analyst (Monrovia)

17 June 2009

Liberia: Yale Lauds Health System

Monrovia — Five Liberian health officials have reportedly left the country last week to attend an innovative conference on “Strategic Problem Solving in Global Health” hosted by Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, in the United States.

Those attending the five-day conference that started Monday, this week, are Deputy Minister of Health and Chief Medical Officer, Bernice Dahn; Deputy Minister for Planning, Research and Development, Tornolah Varpilah; and Director for Human Resources, Ministry of Health, Julie Brown.

Others are Deputy Country Director, Clinton HIV/AIDS Initiative, Denise Walsh, and County Health Officer, Bomi County, Linda Birch.

The Liberian health delegation, a Yale release said, is scheduled during the conference to develop and implement innovative ways of reducing high maternal mortality rates.

“The conference is about gathering health officials from around the world to share experiences, develop leadership and identify creative ways to solve problems that affect the everyday lives of people in these countries,” a Yale University press release announcing the conference said last week.

In addition, according to the release, delegates will hear from such renowned leaders in global health as Dr. Michel Kazatchkine, Executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and Dr. Ariel Pablos-Mendez, Managing Director of the Rockefeller Foundation.

Others expected to make presentations are Sir Richard Feachem, Founder & Director of the Global Health Group at UCSF, and Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Minister of Health of Ethiopia.

“Each delegation will work with Yale faculty and outside experts on its specific healthcare priority and will develop action plans to implement solutions. Delegates will learn to apply strategic problem solving tools in facilitated work sessions,” the release said.

The conference is the inaugural gathering of Yale University’s newly-launched Global Health Leadership Institute (GHLI) designed to strengthen participating countries’ capacity to deliver high quality healthcare for all citizens.

A conference liaison told The Analyst over the weekend that Liberia owes its invitation to the prestigious conference to the university’s realization that Liberia has made significant strides over the last few years in improving its healthcare delivery system.

According to the liaison, the area of marked improvement in the country’s healthcare delivery system is the management of maternal mortality rates despite substantial resource obstacles.

Health officials from Ethiopia, Ghana, and Mexico, and Rwanda are expected to attend the inaugural conference together with other members of Yale’s global health community, the release said.

The conference, organizers said, will also generate a high-level dialogue on how to approach vital healthcare issues facing each participating country.

Yale University release said the conference, which is geared toward building upon Yale’s long-standing commitment to global health, is a key component of Yale President Richard Levin’s framework for establishing a global academic institution that is dedicated to improving the human condition through dialogue, leadership development and strategic action.

It did not say how travel to the conference venue was arranged, but noted that Yale University has “rich ties to Africa that go beyond this important conference” and recalled that President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf spoke at the university in April this year as a Chubb Fellow.

It did not elaborate on the significance of being a Chubb Fellow, but it noted that the Yale faculty is currently engaged in 70 programs and research collaborations in Africa, including 18 programs organized by the School of Public Health.

“We have promising approaches that can reduce maternal mortality, for example, or improve access to quality healthcare. The challenge is applying these lessons in different countries and ensuring that there is leadership needed to make change,” said Elizabeth Bradley, Ph.D., professor of public health and director of the Yale Global Health Initiative.

Yale launched the Global Health Leadership Institute in February, 2009, in an effort to accelerate improvements in the effectiveness and efficiency of healthcare in developing nations around the world.

Meanwhile, the release said any participating country wishing to have its national TV network link by satellite transmission to Yale Broadcast Center can arrange such link.

“If your national TV network has an interest in covering your delegation’s presence at this conference, we could arrange a satellite link so that you can interview your delegates from our studio in New Haven,” a conference liaison, Margo Mendez-Penate, told The Analyst’s Managing Editor, Stanley Seakor.

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