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Open Access Brief Research Report

Effect of civil war on medical education in Liberia

Kathryn R Challoner1* and Nicolas Forget2

Author Affiliations

1 Faculty, Department of Emergency Medicine Co-Director -International Division of Emergency Medicine Clinical Professor of Emergency Medicine Keck School of Medicine University of Southern California, Los Angeles, USA

2 Director, Masters Programme in Emergency Medicine Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation Georgetown, Guyana Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, USA

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International Journal of Emergency Medicine 2011, 4:6  doi:10.1186/1865-1380-4-6

Published: 16 February 2011

Abstract

Background

From 1980 to 2003 Liberia entered into a period of conflict and civil wars. During this time Liberia's health and educational services were severely disrupted. Equipment and supplies were stolen from the Medical School and the buildings damaged severely. A majority of health care workers, university faculty, and hospital and medical school administrators fled the country.

Objective

The objective of this study was to evaluate the impact of civil war on the training of medical students and physicians, and to identify a feasible intervention.

Methods

The authors compiled data from three sources at an Emergency Medicine symposium held at the A.M. Dogliotti School of Medicine, in Monrovia, Liberia, in September 2007. These were (1) data from 13 anonymous surveys completed by symposium participants who were physicians or physicians in training, and (2) answers from six open discussion groups at the symposium concerning perceived barriers to medical training. (3) Supporting documents volunteered by the Dean from interviews in 2002, 2007 and 2009 or published on line in 2002 and 2006 were incorporated, and a focused literature review was performed.

Results

The 12 medical students and 1 physician who returned completed surveys and attended the symposium all reported a delay in their training, with 75% of respondents citing a past and current lack of Clinical and Basic Science faculty as a major delaying factor. The six open discussion groups at the symposium and the information provided by the Dean substantiated these findings.

Conclusions

Volunteer Basic Science and Clinical faculty for the medical school and teaching hospitals from a coalition of concerned partnering institutions would be a targeted intervention to assist in re-building the medical educational capacity of Liberia.