Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Future docs and nurses need Science

Liberia's future health care professionals? How will they learn the science necessary to succeed?
This is the Lott Carey Mission School science laboratory. It was a functioning school lab classroom before the war but has been essentially useless as a lab for years now. Re-construction and repair has stalled due to lack of funds and physical plant limitations. Teaching science with experiments, scientific inquiry, hands-on learning - difficult and limited without basic science equipment. Students are taught science from the blackboard, copying notes and memorizing.

The sign on the door of the Biology Classroom refers to the room's past use when there was equipment and text books to support science study. Clearly there is not much opportunity for biology experiments now.
The above pictures illustrate a major problem for Liberia in particular and Africa in general:

How can serious students of science - future doctors, nurses, dentists, therapists and other health care professionals - be produced by schools with such limitations for hands-on learning in science?

Teaching science through observation, using available materials such as plants, animals, weather and stars, study of the human body with illustrated texts can produce well-rounded students with adequate general knowledge of science but not enough science to become a doctor or a researcher in the scientific world of today. Students with an inadequate science foundation cannot withstand competitive admission policies at universities and, for the few who do enter academic science programs, their prospects for finishing are not good. They start out too far behind to catch up to other students from strong secondary school science programs.

Lott Carey Mission School Superintendent Rev. Emile Sam-Peal agrees with other experts who are concerned that development in Africa will continue to lag if medical care does not improve.

Children who are taught in inadequate science education facilities are simply not inspired and able to study the type of science that produces doctors and nurses.

Before war broke out in 1989, there were 250 licensed doctors practicing in Liberia. Now medical care for Liberia's three and a half million people consists of;

· 50 Liberian doctors, according to UN estimates. There are also about 75-100 doctors serving with missions, NGOs and other aid groups.
· Three hospitals in Monrovia - one of those was converted from a war-ruined school into a small hospital with 150 beds and one operating room. The largest is a war-ruined medical facility of 1970s vintage with intermittent electricity, among other severe limitations.
· NGOs that operate more than 70 percent of health care facilities in Liberia
There is a major push to shore up Liberia's health care system and the Ministry of Health is highly respected in a nation where the public's trust in government bureaucracy is generally low. But where are the doctors and nurses going to come from? Science studies in Liberia's schools are out-of-date and facilities woefully inadequate.

1 comment:

  1. Sad state of affairs indeed. Thank you for your contribution to humanity. The world needs more like you.