For the first time since the establishment of the West African Postgraduate Medical College (WAPMC) in 1972, Liberia through the Liberia College of Physicians and Surgeons (LCPS) had the opportunity to host the organization’s 23rd meeting of the Forum in Monrovia on August 5, 2019. This meeting is convened periodically in order to allow heads of postgraduate colleges across West Africa to compare notes on activities, progress and ways to overcome bottlenecks that would stand in the way of improving the health sector of member countries.
The meeting of the forum brought together the Presidents, Secretaries-General, Rector and Registrar of the Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons (GCPS), Liberian College of Physicians and Surgeons (LCPS), the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria (NPMCN), the West African College of Surgeons (WACS) and the West African College of Physicians (WACP).
Speaking at the opening of the meeting, the President of LCPS, Dr. Benjamin L. Harris said the health sector across West Africa and beyond is faced with “unique and extreme challenges” which require the holistic involvement of all professionals in the area to confront.
Dr. Harris also stated that data from the World Health Organization (WHO) show that of the twenty (20) countries in the world with the highest mortality rate, nineteen (19) of these countries are in Sub Sahara Africa and nine are from West Africa. In terms of neonatal mortality, he sighed that West Africa did not perform well adding that sub Sahara Africa accounts for more than 90% of deaths resulting from malaria which is very common.
“When we look at the six (6) countries with worst scores, two of them are in West Africa. We must confront these challenges with renewed vigor and commitment,” the LCPS President emphasized.
He pointed out that healthcare professionals should explore new ideas and best practices and translate these practices into sustainable programs as well as become advocates for health in their respective countries. “We are a resource constraint- a resource limited area of the world. However, it becomes our duties and our obligation to the world to become advocates for health, thereby ensuring better health related outcomes across the region,” Dr. Harris stressed.
The LCPS President informed his colleagues that the Liberia College of Physicians and Surgeons is a small institution that is making significant strides. “I wish to inform you that we are in the process of transforming ourselves from a college-based program to a hospital based program since the beginning of postgraduate medical training in Liberia, 2013.
Also, Dr. Benetta Collins-Andrews, Assistant Secretary General of LCPS, informed newsmen that when the college started in Liberia, there were only fifteen (15) clinical specialists in Liberia. This number, according to the Liberian Paediatric Doctor, has increase to forty-five (45) to date.
She said joining the West Africa Postgraduate Medical College comes with sitting rigorous international exams. “Out of the over 200 doctors who sat the exams in 2018, sixty-six (66) passed including six (6) Liberians,” Dr. Collins-Andrews disclosed. She was among the Liberians who came out with flying colors.
At the end of the meeting of the forum, members of the organization issued a Communiqué indicating that prospective fellows in training from Liberia, Sierra Leone and The Gambia are unable to take up training posts in Ghana and Nigeria due to the relatively high costs of training compared to East Africa and South Africa; there are still challenges with issues of leadership of medical laboratories between Laboratory Physicians and Laboratory Scientists in some countries in the sub-Region, including access to Laboratories by trainees in all Colleges with the attendant implications on standards of training of personnel, medical practice and certification of laboratory results across all specialties; joint accreditations are yet to be fully implemented by the Colleges and online courses on Research Methodology and Health Resource Management have been started by the NPMCN.