The University of Sierra Leone is collaborating with the Board Institutes – Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) – to roll out intensive one-week training for postgraduate students at the College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences (COMAHS).
Addressing the students and tutors at the start of the training at the Gallinness Paradise in Bo, Deputy Vice Chancellor (DVC) of COMAHS, Prof. Mohamed Samai who deputized for the Vice Chancellor and Principal (VC&P) of the USL, Brig. Gen. Prof Foday Sahr said he is delighted to have collaborated with the Broad Institutes to support the University’s medical school and by extension, the health sector in the country.
Prof Samai noted that the University of Sierra Leone is looking beyond the training of students for academic purposes to include support for the ministry of health and by extension, the country’s health sector. He said the training, which is the second phase is the precursor to the full-blown masters and PhD programmes in the medical and related fields that would start immediately, which he said would run for two years and a minimum of three years respectively.
The Course Coordinator, Haja Dr. Isata Wurie, Dean of the Faculty of the Medical Laboratory Sciences and Diagnostics at COMAHS said the background to the training should be traced to 2022 when the University of Sierra Leone in line with the national agenda decided to improve on the capacity of faculty staff members. She pointed out that through the sustained efforts of the VC&P of USL and the DVC of COMAHS, postgraduate courses were instituted in Epidemiology, Laboratory Medicine and Pharmacy for Masters, MPhil and PhD students.
Associate Professor Wurie noted that after the approval of the course, some 11 PhD and 15 Masters Students have started their courses through collaborative efforts between USL and the Broad Institutes, adding that the training is part of the USL’s long-term strategy to prepare masters and PhD students in public health and other medical-related disciplines.
On her part, the Project Manager at the Broad Institutes, Dr. Marietou Faye Paye pointed out that they are happy to have the opportunity to collaborate with the University of Sierra Leone through the teaching of courses to Masters and PhD students. She said they are passionate about supporting education in the country, especially in the public health field, adding that they are happy to secure the opportunity to collaborate with the University. She pointed out that part of the project package is to teach masters and PhD students on general public health topics, epidemiology, understanding how research design works and how to implement them.
In terms of the next steps, the project director expressed hope for the continuation of the collaboration and to develop the medical workforce in the country.
Dr. Faye Paye noted that as part of their strategic outcome, they are not just focusing on research but also on the detection of pathogens to support public health and to also connect people and the different levels of government so that they can easily detect outbreaks of epidemic and to respond. She furthered that they are focusing on empowering the people in terms of building the workforce and connecting the different leadership so as to take their own actions rather than depending on outsiders to respond to their public health emergencies.
The tutors for this intensive one-week training in Bo, the second of such engagements in the country comprises staff from Harvard University who are teaching gratis through a memorandum of understanding among USL, Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in addition to a team of local staff at COMAHS, including Dr. Donald Grant, Dr. Momoh Gbetuwa and with Haja Associate Prof. Isata Wurie as the course coordinator.
It is important to note that other strategic partners are onboard this postgraduate academic and professional enterprise including but not limited to the West African Health Organisation.