DCM Joel Maybury, US Embassy

By: G Bennie Bravo Johnson & Emmanuel W. Conway

 In continuation of the strong partnership and collaboration between the United States of America and the Republic of Liberia, the University of Liberia College of Health Sciences (ULCHS), in partnership with the USAID-funded BRIDGE–U: Liberia project, has launched a Center for Teaching, Learning, and Innovation (CTLI).

CTLI, a public-private academic hub for research utilization, inter-professional training, innovation, and knowledge generation in Liberia, will deliver: faculty development programming; Research on utilizing evidence in the health sciences; the Experiential Learning and Assessment Lab (ELAB), a clinical simulation centre at John F. Kennedy Medical Center; an evidence-based decision-making course for current policymakers; and innovation and entrepreneurship training, mentorship, and venture incubation.

At the Launch of the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Innovation yesterday, June 21, 2022, at A.M. Dogliotti College of Medicine Campus, the Deputy Chief of Mission, Joel F. Maybury, said that the launch is a proud moment because it brings together several partnerships between the United States and Liberia.

He said first, there is the USAID-funded Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement in Research, or PEER/Liberia. This project is working to strengthen medical education both at the undergraduate and residency levels. 

Then, he continued, there is the Resilient & Responsive Health Systems Initiative, funded by the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR, and administered by the U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration. This initiative supports classroom and clinical training for physicians, nurses, midwives, and health managers.

And now, the US Diplomat noted that the Bringing Research to Impact for Development, Global Engagement, and Utilization (BRIDGE-U), also funded by USAID, is building off these initiatives to enrich faculty development and student learning across the College of Health Sciences.

“These projects are models of innovation and impact, demonstrating the tremendous change we can achieve through partnership and collaboration. Our U.S. university and other partners are working with the University of Liberia and Tubman University, just as we at the Embassy are working with the Ministry of Health to rethink medical education in Liberia.

“The launch of the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Innovation is yet another great achievement that marks our long-standing partnership.” The CTLI will serve as a gateway to modern health education technology for the next generation of essential health workers—doctors, nurses, administrators, and faculty. Most importantly, the CTLI will be a source of research information for entrepreneurs who are expected to improve their business initiatives using research-based evidence, “Mr. Joel F. Maybury said in his moving remarks.”

The U.S. government is proud of the many ways in which our assistance improves health outcomes for the Liberian people, he added.

Speaking further, he said strengthening the health workforce is a priority for every country, and as we’ve seen during the COVID-19 pandemic, as such, he noted that there is no time to waste. “Strong leaders, competent clinicians, and innovative entrepreneurs need research information to prepare for and respond to pandemics such as COVID-19. I am impressed with your innovative and strategic vision to establish the CTLI, which serves this purpose. “

He then acknowledged the Minister of Health, Dr. Wilhemina Jallah, the President of the University of Liberia, Dr. Sarwolo Nelson, the Vice President, UL College of Health Sciences, Dr. Bernice Dahn, and all the esteemed faculty and others who have participated in this important work, as well as the U.S. government’s implementing partners, with whom he said are administering these programs, saying we celebrate what our great countries can achieve together.

In his opening special statement, Dr. Julius S. Nelson, Jr. thanked the leadership of the College of Health Sciences, in the person of Dr. Bernice T. Dahn and her entire team, for the work and collaboration with partners in bringing the project to fruition and said the ULCHS remained grateful to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and other partners for their faith and investment in the country, adding that he is confident that the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Innovation (CTLI) and all related programs will be very transformational for the faculty and students. 

“I am also excited because the Center will serve as a hub for collaborative training and innovation with the larger community, including clinicians, policymakers, and entrepreneurs.” “Universities are a part of the fabric of the community, and it is our privilege and mission to promote lifelong learning and research in partnership with our neighboring institutions and colleagues,” the UL President said, noting that the opening of the CTLI is a momentous occasion, which builds on years of progress at the College of Health Science and ushers in a new era for high quality and professional health education.

He noted that fifty years ago, the UL started with just the A. M. Dogliotti College of Medicine, but today, in spite of the challenges faced over the years, the institution has a busy campus with four schools, including the School of Medicine, School of Pharmacy, School of Public Health, and School of Nursing and Midwifery, as well as strengthened administrative systems. As we all know, such growth comes along with its own set of challenges. With an ever increasing number of students, we are reaching the capacity of our classrooms and dorms. Dr. Nelson further narrated, “We have relocated the pre-clinical medical students to our Fendall Campus and envisage an additional expansion there to support the anticipated growth within the college.”

“As the need for clinical training continues to remain critical for quality health profession training, we also realize that our own campus needs continuous strengthening.” As a result, we will continue to work with our partners at the John F. Kennedy Memorial Medical Center and elsewhere to make sure that we are providing our students with well-equipped faculties and quality supervision and mentorship.

We are proud to be associated with the training of our future generations of Liberia’s health workforce, which includes the clinicians, researchers, policymakers, and even future faculty members, who will keep us all safe and healthy. It is our duty to provide a comprehensive and enriching educational experience that prepares these students to be the leaders and change-makers of the future, and we are so grateful for the support of our many partners and everyone here today. “

In closing, he urged all stakeholders to continue working together as ULCHS continues to develop the health workforce of the beloved country and reduce the patient to health worker ratio far lower than it is now.

The University of Liberia College of Health Sciences (ULCHS) is the flagship public higher education institution responsible for training Liberia’s clinicians, researchers, health policymakers, and innovators. ULCHS is poised to become a globally recognized leader in research utilization, meaningfully connecting academics with policy-making innovation and clinical practice. ULCHS is the strategic lead and main partner for the BRIDGE-U: Liberia project. It is also home to Liberia’s only medical, pharmacy, public health, and midwifery schools.

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