The health sector of Liberia is experiencing a crippling effect of brain drain with government’s capacity building falling far below the targeted number of at least 100 doctors trained per year over the next five years.
The Dean of the A.M Dogliotti College of Medicine at the University of Liberia (UL), Dr. Vuyu Kanda Golakai, has termed the situation as scaring and needs urgent consideration. Dr. Golakai told a local radio station on June 9, 2016 that the lack of sufficient funding has resulted in a huge manpower shortage at the college which eventually impedes the provision of qualified professionals for the health sector. “It is difficult. We have a fragile situation that is fast approaching unmanageability. We might not be able to manage it if we don’t get some help. And that help needs to very fast like yesterday. Two things have brought us to this level of fragility. One is that the doctors that we trained over the last 47 years opted to leave the country and even most of the ones who have stayed decided not to contribute,” the Medical College Dean said. He added that due to the lack of finance the number of fairly qualified individuals has dropped from 55 to 27 as of this year. Dr. Golakai pointed out that this is dangerous because Liberia needs to produce at least 100 doctors a year in the next five years to be able to bridge the gap between the optimum doctor-patients ratio that will provide satisfactory healthcare in the community or city. The A. M. Doglioti Dean said at the moment, there is one doctor to 35,000 patients. He said last graduation, the college graduated 35 doctors and the year before, the school also put out 38 doctors and another 42 individuals are expected to be put out this year. The Associate Professor indicated that there is a multiplicity of danger ahead of the country if nothing is done to curb the situation. He stated that one thing that would happen is that with the lack of doctors to take care of patients, the citizens will not be able to work and the economy will be affected consequently. According to him, the college also lacks the basic equipments needed to make students efficient, noting: “instructors are now focused on the practical aspect of the course and there is a short supply of equipment”. The college, he said, is in a difficult situation that demands quick intervention; we need improved human capacity to address the current fragility in the health sector. He furthered there are inadequate locally trained medical personnel needed to improve the system, while many foreign doctors hired by the institute have opted to leave the country due to low incentives. “We are calling on partners to help us pay the foreign or contracted persons at the college; the number of staff has now reduce from 55 to 27 largely due to inadequate compensation which is troubling for the college,” he added. “We have a daunting challenge; most of the current staff at the college are somewhat qualified,” he said. Dr. Golakai added that for the past 40 years, the College of Medicine has never had its own budget to operate.