Strengthening The A. M. Dogliotti College of Medicine,University Of Liberia, Monrovia, Liberia
The A.M. Dogliotti College of Medicine was established in 1968 through a tripartite arrangement involving the Vatican, the Government of Liberia and the Dogliotti Foundation in Italy. The college became the 7th Academic Organ and 2nd Professional Programme of the University of Liberia in 1970.
The college has a maximum capacity of 125 students (25 per class). Currently two schools, the College of Medicine and the School of Pharmacy, are housed on the Medical College campus.
Currently there are 54 medical students(17 first year students, 12 second students, 5 third year students, 13 fourth year students and 7 fifth year students) and 46 Pharmacy students.
The John F. Kennedy Medical Complex, with over 700 beds, has been the official University Teaching Hospital, but other hospitals in the country have been accredited by the College of Medicine to provide clinical exposure to students as well.
The goal of the Medical College has been to train high level medical manpower for the nation, competent to serve the international community. 253 doctors have graduated to date. The college’s graduates provide the core of medical expertise in the Liberian health care delivery system. The College of Medicine graduates currently staff the central Ministry of Health and the county hospitals in rural Liberia, as well as training and research institutions that remain in operation.
War and its effects
The 13 year civil conflict has resulted in major damage to the health care system of Liberia. After each of the four major waves of conflict (1990, 1992, 1996, 2003), many hospitals were at least partially restored, only to be looted and destroyed again in the next wave of violence. As of January 2004, all Liberia’s hospitals and the vast majority of clinics had been looted and severely damaged. These facilities are gradually being renovated and restored to functionality but are inadequately manned due to the lack of insufficient number of trained health workers in all categories. Prior to the civil conflict, there were about 350 functional health facilities in Liberia. At least 50% of these facilities have been renovated.
There has been a flight of professionals, including teachers from the basic and clinical science divisions of the medical college over time primarily for their lives. The situation is particularly serious in the basic science division, where those who left are not likely to return. Very few medical doctors are likely to choose the basic sciences for specialization. Yet, this is a critical area for the training of physicians to man the health care delivery system in our country. In 1990, there were over 500 practicing physicians in the country, including public and private sectors. Today, there are fewer than 75, with 25 of those serving the public sector. The country has 15 health districts; only four, Montserrado, where the Capital, Monrovia is situated, Bong, Nimba and Lofa have medical doctors; the other 11 counties have no practicing physician on a sustained basis.
The A. M. Dogliotti College of Medicine, University of Liberia has this huge task of training physicians for the country’s health sector and the world at large. With the inadequate teaching staff of the college, it will be difficult to increase our current enrollment to the college’s full capacity of 125 students which urgently needs to be done to increase our output of doctors to man the Liberian health care delivery system.
To train Liberian graduates from the University of Liberia and Cuttington University with Bsc Degrees in Biology, Zoology and Chemistry in the basic sciences (Biochemistry, Physiology, Anatomy, Pharmacology. Microbiology, Genetics, etc.) at Msc and PhD levels.