Authorities of the state-run University of Liberia (UL) on Thursday, June 28, 2018, held a stakeholders meeting over the establishment of three health programs at the institution.
The three programs, namely: Certificate in Health System Leadership and Management (CHSLM), a Bachelor of Science in Public Health (BScPH) and a Masters of Public Health (MPH) with focal areas, were approved by the faculty senate of the UL in March of this year.
According to a UL statement, the approval marks the UL’s historic move towards establishing a School of Public Health (SPH), an initiative that will significantly enhance and expand locally trained capacity to better prevent, detect, and respond to public health threats and reduce risk of another outbreak as catastrophic as the Ebola virus disease crisis.
With this approval by the faculty senate, the UL statement noted that the next step would be a recommendation to the Board of Trustees and the Board’s decision.
“The curricula reflect an assessment of public health workforce needs in Liberia and an in-depth analysis of well-established programs globally, conducted under the leadership of the National Public Health Institute of Liberia and with the support of collaborators,” said the UL statement.
The statement noted that the curricula have been designed in alignment with board requirements for international accreditation.
The UL statement pointed out that conversations are being conducted with top-level universities in the United States to support faculty and research development in the inaugural years of the SPH.
“Graduates of the SPH will have to participate in significant fieldwork and research projects to ensure that they have the skills and knowledge to meaningfully contribute to the public health workforce in Liberia,” the school noted.
UL said the BScPH program is intended to prepare recent high school graduates with sufficient knowledge and training in public health workforce in entry-level positions and function effectively in those roles.
“For middle-level health professionals who have not completed a Bachelor’s degree, the BScPH Degree will also serve as a bridge program, offering opportunities for these professionals to complete undergraduate education and prepare them for graduate-level programs such as the University of Liberia MPH Program,” the statement indicated.
UL disclosed that the MPH program will run for two years (four semesters) plus one intersession period for full-time enrollees.
“Classes will be in the evening hours and part-time enrollment is possible. The program is designed to accept students with BSc degrees in Nursing, Midwifery, Physician Assistant, Environmental Health, Public Health, Management, Sociology, Social Work, and other related areas,” the school asserted.
For the CHSLM program, the school explained that the new program will provide advanced professional training for individuals who currently hold management leadership positions in Liberian hospitals, health centers or health offices.
“The certificate program has been developed through a partnership with the Liberian Health Workforce Program, Yale University School of Medicine and the University of Liberia under the guidance of the Ministry of Health,” said the statement.
Furthermore, the statement said healthcare executives and managers working in health care facilities, county health officers, and the Ministry of Health are tasked with managing complex healthcare delivery systems.
UL pointed out that there are limited options in Liberia for professional management and leadership training, and as such, the certificate program allows participants to keep full-time employment and actively apply new knowledge and skills in their daily work to create measurable improvements in their organizations.
“During the eight-month program, participants will engage in evening classroom sessions, team exercises, and applied projects in order to develop and apply key leadership and management skills.
Between the sessions faculty and Yale Hospital Management Associates will provide guidance and coaching on quality improvement projects in the workplace,” the stated indicated.
“Following the certificate program, graduates are able to further advance their health system management skills by pursuing a Masters of Public Health, because the contents of the CHSLM program will fit perfectly into the requirement of the MPH program as the coursework of CHSLM will be counted as seven (7) credits for the Health System Management concentration of the MPH program,” it asserted.
“Yale University has a long history of developing hospital management and leadership programs and has collaborated with partners in China, Ethiopia, Rwanda and the United Kingdom to develop similar training programs to advance the careers of individuals already in leadership and management positions,” the statement among other things added.