The World Bank and the Health Resources and Services Administration just awarded a Yale School of Medicine Team $3.7 million in grant funding. The team was awarded this grant to help strengthen medical education and the healthcare infrastructure in Liberia.

The research team, led by director of Yale’s Office of Global Health Professor Asghar Rastegar, will be working to improve preclinical medical education and residency programs as well as assist with the development of a health management certificate program.

In a statement to Yale Daily News, Onyema Ogbuagu, a medical school professor involved in Yale’s efforts in Liberia said, “We will undertake efforts to improve the infrastructure, training, and retention of people trained within the health system in Liberia. We hope, through our robust approaches, to help Liberia create a resilient and responsive healthcare system that prepares the country for the next disease strike.”

The team hopes the work they do in Liberia will help the nation to recover from the Ebola epidemic they faced three years ago. The Ebola crisis of 2014-2015 took the lives of over 4,000 people in Liberia, including a large percentage of the healthcare workforce. Due to this, Liberia has the lowest health care provider-to-population ratio in the world, with 40 doctors to about 4 million people.

The $1.2 million awarded by the World Bank will be used for hiring more physicians from countries in West Africa as well as the United States to become faculty in Liberia’s only medical school, A.M. Dogliotti College of Medicine. Hiring physicians from the West African region will provide an advantage to the research team. Local doctors will be more knowledgeable about local pathology, working in resource-negative settings and hiring them will be more cost-effective than sending faculty from the United States.

The $2.5 million awarded by the Health Resources and Services Administration will be used to support the team in developing the health management certificate program and other specific programs such as infectious disease training and HIV treatment programs.

While in Liberia, the Yale research team will work with faculty at the Liberia College of Physicians and Surgeons and together will help enhance medical education in a preclinical medical training program and the residency programs in internal medicine. Yale will also be involved in reviewing the quality of education in both programs.

Professor Ogbuagu said, “We’ll perform assessments of the training facilities and hospitals in Liberia to figure out the major gaps in the health system, which include the availability of specialists and subspecialists — such as mental health services and ophthalmology, availability of lab facilities and missing infrastructure needed to train physicians.”

There are some factors that will provide a challenge for the team. For example, Liberia has almost a 50% dropout rate for early medical training. However, this has to do with the limited number of faculty and a poor learning environment. The team plans to combat this by having more detailed evaluation tools so they can make changes as necessary. They also would like to transition from dictated lectures to a more engaging method such as small groups and flipped classrooms as well as add more in-depth basic science and research components.

Yale has been a key player in the efforts to strengthen the medical system in countries throughout Africa, so their efforts in Liberia are just a continuation of what they strive to achieve.

Source: Yale Daily News