Authorities of the University of Liberia (UL) and University of California at San Francisco (UCSF), have launched a scholarship program that will provide training opportunities for Liberian scholars in the health sector. The program is in partnership with many Liberia-based institutions.
The UCSF infectious disease training program for Liberian students is aimed at helping to support sustainable high quality research across the country in finding solutions to healthcare needs, which could also be extended to the needs of future generation.
The UL School of Health Sciences and UCSF scholarship was officially launched on November 6, 2019 in the auditorium of A.M. Dogliotti Medical College in Congo Town.
UL is partnering with UCSF, the United States Center for Disease Control (CDC), USAID, National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL) and the United States National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Two finalists are expected to be selected for the program, following a thorough vetting process. The program is expected to commence at the end of July 2020.
At the official launch, UL Vice President for Graduate Studies and Research, Dr. Jonathan C. Taylor, thanked all those who have contributed towards the program, saying, "UL is fully supportive of the initiative."
Regarding concerns as to making sure that scholarship students will return to Liberia upon the completion of their studies at UCSF, Dr. Taylor said that a framework is in place at the Ministry of Health (MoH) and at the UL to ensure the beneficiaries will return to the country at the completion of their studies.
in a powerpoint presentation, UL Vice President for the College of Health Sciences, Dr. Bernice Dahn, pointed out that over the past years, discussions have been ongoing about how clinical research can be sustained in the country.
To reform the entire medical training in Liberia, Dr. Dahn explained that there was a decision made in 2018 to develop a strategic plan, which includes designing a seven-year training program for students out of high school, compared to nine years program [as was done in the past].
She says this is based on six pillars, which include curriculum reform, faculty development, clinical training and research, financial planning and sustainability and campus planning.
According to Dr. Dahn, BSc and Master's degrees in Clinical Training Programs have been introduced, "all of which are supported by partners."
UCSF Representative Madam Krysia Lindan, says applications will be evaluated by a committee that comprises people from collaborating institutions in Liberia and UCSF. After making determination of the finalists, she says the program will begin at the end of July 2020.
USAID Representative, Dr. Fatma A. Soud, says strengthening clinical training with good quality mentorship and support of the health management system should be made a priority in strengthening the health system.
NPHIL acting director general, Dr. Mosoka Fallah, spoke of the way to sustain the research activities, which he said is for the young [Liberian] scientists to build strong collaboration, and then go for grants.
Dr. Fallah pledged NPHIL's commitment in supporting the research.