Health Sector Solicits Support
-For Specialist Medical Training
Liberia’s health sector is making massive preparations to correct shortcomings in the country’s health sector, especially the shortage of trained specialist medical doctors in the country, by training medical specialist doctors abroad and at the Liberia College of Physicians and Surgeons (LCPS).
This was disclosed by Professor Dr. Robert Kpoto of the LCSP when he addressed the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT) regular Thursday Press briefing at the Information Ministry last week.According to Dr. Kpoto, the only trained Liberian brain surgeon presently in the country, they in the medical profession are trying to change the situation of only 350 trained Liberian doctors working in the country to serve a population of over 4 million people. He added that out of the 350 trained Liberian doctors only 4 0r 8 are trained specialists.
He said there is a clear need to train more Liberian specialist doctors at home and abroad to fill the gap in the areas of psychiatry, neurology, ear throat and infectious diseases, among others, adding that presently the LCPS only have two main faculties, general medicine, children and maternal.
Highlighting the performance of the LCPS, Dr. Kpoto said presently there are 48 graduate students enrolled as resident students undergoing specialist training and 2/3 of the are male Liberian students while 1/3 are females, but it is alarming that out of 45 teaching faculty staff members, the Liberian government is only sponsoring one through the Ministry of Health.
He indicated that the other 44 faculty staff members are foreigners or expatriates sponsored by the World Bank and other donors such as Lions International and the regional West Africa College of Physicians and the West Africa College of Surgeons.
“As I am speaking, a delegation from the West Africa College of Physicians and the West Africa College of Surgeons is in the country as guest of government on a fact finding and assessment mission to make sure that the Liberia College of Physicians and Surgeons meets the required standards and materials to qualify for accreditation,” he said.
Dr. Kpoto noted that they plan to add new faculties to the existing ones, such as the one supported by the Lion’s Club and the Faculty of Psychiatry and Mental Health and the Faculty of Emergency Health in collaboration with the John Hopkins University Medical College and the West Africa College of Physicians and College of Surgeons.
He used the occasion to thank President George Manneh Weah and his government for giving them a million U.S dollars to train specialist do
“We have sent students for specialist training in medical schools Ghana and Nigerian and as of September 2018 we will be sending our graduate medic doctors abroad who will return and serve as faculty staff members in disciplines not offered presently at the LCPS and also tanked the John Hopkins university, USA, for their high level of support to the college.
“As of September we will also be sending students for specialist training in universities Nairobi, Kenya and 3 to South Africa for advanced faculty specialist training, as I am the only brain surgeon in the country,” he said.
According to Dr. Kpoto, as their target is to become self reliant in the availability of specialist doctors in the country, the LCPS envisages training sixty Liberian specialist doctors to become part of their faculty staff members between now and the year 2021, adding that right now they can boast of having trained 31 Liberian specialist doctors which are not enough to be assigned to each of the 15 counties.
He added that within the next 5 years they plan to have 50% of Liberian specialist doctors assigned in all the counties, noting that they want to make sure that Liberians do not travel broad for specialist medical treatment, as such specialist treatments will be available in the country.
He thanked all those who are making the implementation of their plans a reality including the John Hopkins University in the USA, President Weah, the West African College of Physicians and the West African College of Surgeons.
For his part, Dr. Stephen Kennedy whom is also a professor at the LCPS and part of the Post Ebola vaccine research team said their aim is to make sure that every county in Liberia should have at least a minimum of 4 medical doctors, and by that the health sector will improve significantly.
“There is also a need for us to raise funds to support sending our students abroad for specialist medical training,” he said adding that they have only been given US$300,000 and they need more to accomplish their plans.
According to Dr. Stephen Kennedy who is one of the pioneers of the LCSP becoming a reality, we have targeted 90 to be trained and have only sent out 15. He regretted that the unfortunate situation is leaving Liberians with no alternative but to travel to far away places to seek medical treatment.
“As I speak, there is no ear and throat doctor, a neurologist specialist or psychiatrist and we cannot continue like this for a long period. We at the LCPS are therefore identifying Liberians to be sent abroad for specialist medical training in disciplines not offered by our faculties,” he concluded. (By John L. Momoh).