The Liberia College of Physicians and Surgeons (LCPS), which is in charge of running the Liberia Post-Graduate Medical College (LPGMC), recently graduated its first batch of specialized doctors in the country.
The 64 doctors, who were trained in surgery, internal medicine, pediatrics (children), obstetrics and gynecology, are expected to independently manage surgical and medical problems with great confidence and skill as well as boost the country's healthcare delivery system.
In her keynote address, Health Minister Dr. Bernice Dahn expressed gratitude and confidence in the graduates, indicating that they excelled among the West Africa College of Physicians and Surgeins medical school's first graduates.
She added: "You have excelled; you the graduates of 2017 have scored the highest grade points among the West Africa College of Physicians and Surgeons examinations. The average of every first college is about 30 percent, but Liberia scored 60 percent."
Said Minister Dahn, "As graduates of the college, you have spent the last three years learning and studying in the last hours, working late and have been tested. All along the way we have tested everything - your medical knowledge, your commitments, and your resilience and patience."
She said the vision of the college is to produce Liberian medical specialists who will demonstrate the highest standards of medical excellence, while effectively and efficiently delivering health services across the 15 counties of Liberia.
Dr. Dahn recalled how the medical school was established in 2012, which the current number of physician specialists yet to reach the WHO recommended standards.
For instance, she said, Liberia has no pathologist and oncologist, noting, "This severe shortfall makes it virtually impossible for the country's health system to provide universal access to basic quality healthcare, not to mention the specialized care."
The history further reflects that in 2012, Liberia had 215 registered and licensed physicians in the country. Of this number, 144 are Liberian doctors and less than 15 of them are specialized clinical physicians.
"This shortage of specialist physicians is having adverse effects on the Ministry's effort to meet the global human resource for health, particularly specialist physicians," she said.
For this reason, in 2012, the then Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and the Liberia Medical and Dental Association established a postgraduate medical education program with the aim of producing medical specialists to respond to Liberia's urgent need for specialized doctors.
To move the process forward, the former Minister of Health, Dr. Walter T. Gwenigale, set up a task force and a technical working group (TWG), with the mandate to establish the postgraduate residency-training program. Dr. Bernice Dahn was then appointed to chair the TWG, which comprised 17 members.
Dr. Roseda Marshall, president of the Liberia College of Physicians and Surgeons, said that the specialized college works directly with the A. M. Dogloitti College of the University of Liberia, training doctors that will contribute to the society.
"We are training pediatricians, internists, obstetric gynecologists and general surgical doctors. This means that after the internship and after working for one or two years, those already trained doctors can now enter a school of any field to sub-specialize in other disciplines," Dr. Marshall said.
She said, "we are training doctors knowing that they will improve the quality of the country's healthcare, and also improve our economy where no cash will be taken out of the country without proper accountability."
She said that the college is working with partners, including the WHO and World Bank to help upgrade facilitates of these hospitals so that they can be on par with other medical facilities in the West African sub-region.
She named the Board of the college as Drs. Robert Kpoto, 1st vice president for surgery; Benjamin Harris, 2nd vice president for physician; and Angela Benson as those who are working to improve the welfare of the college.