Yale medical faculty awarded two grants to support health system in Liberia

Photo of Dr. Asghar Rastegar
Dr. Asghar Rastegar

Faculty at the Yale School of Medicine have been awarded two grants by the World Bank and the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to support and strengthen medical education and health management in Liberia. 

The goal of the grants is to support Liberia’s efforts to rebuild a resilient health system following the Ebola crisis of 2014-15. Ebola ravaged parts of Liberia claiming the lives of more than 4,800 of its citizens and depleting its healthcare workforce. Liberia now has the lowest doctor-to-patient ratio in the world.

The World Bank awarded $1.2 million to support recruitment and deployment of faculty by Yale from the sub-Saharan Africa region and the United States to enhance the quality of pre-clinical education at A.M. Dogliotti College of Medicine, as well as the departments of medicine in the major teaching hospitals. This grant is renewable for an additional four years. The five-year, $2.5 million HRSA grant will support development of a certificate program in health management and fund the activities of the U.S.-based faculty and staff supporting the team in Liberia.

Photo of professor Onyema Ogbuagu
Onyema Ogbuagu

Led by Dr. Asghar Rastegar, professor of medicine and director of the Office of Global Health in the Department of Medicine, Yale recruited faculty to teach at Liberia’s only medical school and two of its major hospitals. The team will also conduct a full review of medical curriculum at Liberia’s medical school, and develop workshops and training programs to support and build capacity among Liberian medical faculty, including programs focused on HIV/AIDS care and infection control.

The tragic Ebola epidemic showed that the only way to prevent another epidemic is to strengthen the healthcare infrastructure, both in human capacity as well as material resources. This is the first time that three major medical institutions in the U.S. will be working together to help rebuild the healthcare sector in a resource-limited country,” said Dr. Rastegar.

The Yale team also includes: Onyema Ogbuagu, assistant professor of infectious diseases, who will oversee the internal medicine residency training program. “The Liberia healthcare workforce program is an exciting opportunity to build the training programs from the ground up, with the greatest challenge being sustainability,” said Dr. Ogbuagu. “Through this program, we intend to improve the way medicine is taught and encourage institutional relationships and resource sharing between Yale and Liberia that hopefully will outlast the funding period.”

Photo of Dr. Kristina Talbert-Slagle
Dr. Kristina Talbert-Slagle

Dr. Kristina Talbert-Slagle, assistant professor of general internal medicine and another member of the Yale team, will oversee the health management program and preclinical, basic science visiting faculty at the medical school. “We hope that by teaching, mentoring, and working closely with our Liberian colleagues to share expertise and experience, our whole team can help Liberia in its plan to build a resilient health system. Ultimately, one of our main goals with this program is to work ourselves out of a job,” said Talbert-Slagle, who is an alumna of Yale’s Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.

The Yale team hopes that through the above efforts, Liberian physicians and health managers will be much better prepared to address the next public health threat.

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