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UNIVERSITY OF LIBERIA COLLEGE OF HEALTH SCIENCES

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BRIDGE-U: Applying Research for a Healthy Liberia (BRIDGE-U: Liberia) is a $15 million, five-year partnership (2021-2026) between the USAID Innovation, Technology, and Research Hub’s Research Division, University of Liberia College of Health Sciences (ULCHS), Yale University, and Vanderbilt University Medical Center. BRIDGE-U: Liberia is helping to advance ULCHS as a globally recognized leader in research utilization, meaningfully connecting academics with policymaking, innovation, and clinical practice.

Empowering Excellence: ULCHS's Journey of Transformation through Finance and Grant Administration Offices Initiative

EDITION II

Annual Newsletter

September 2023

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L-R: Edmond Manston, Director of OSRS, and Faitha Steward, Finance and Admin Assistant, join Barbara Doe Quarbo, Director of OFS in a review of end-of-month finance reports for ULCHS active grants.

In the ever-evolving landscape of higher education and healthcare, the University of Liberia College of Health Sciences (ULCHS), including Liberia’s sole medical and pharmacy schools, stands as a beacon of

progress and innovation. Under the guidance of the Office of Fiduciary Services (OFS) and the Office of Sponsored Research and Services (OSRS), ULCHS has achieved significant milestones in independent grants and financial management, marking a new era of excellence and self-reliance. Since their establishment in 2020, these offices have managed more than $9.5 Million in grant and contract funding, with an additional $4.4 Million funds anticipated.

The Office of Fiduciary Services (OFS) at ULCHS has played a pivotal role in enhancing the institution's financial stability and operational efficiency. One remarkable achievement is the successful completion of the first external audit which confirmed the accuracy and transparency of ULCHS's financial records. This milestone is a testament to ULCHS's commitment to world-class financial management.

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Transitioning to QuickBooks Online for record-keeping and reporting has streamlined processes but also improved the accessibility of financial data, setting the stage for better decision-making. A significant stride towards self-sufficiency has been the transition from tripartite agreements, (whereby a third-party entity served as an intermediary between ULCHS and some sponsors) to autonomous management of donor funding. This shift empowers ULCHS to have immediate control over its resources and project execution and allows for more efficient reporting directly from ULCHS to sponsors. Furthermore, the creation of an improved digital procurement request and data management system using Research Electronic Data Capture (REDCap) will facilitate efficient and transparent procurement processes, automatically creating and archiving clear records of each step in the process. The Office of Sponsored Research and Services (OSRS) has also been instrumental in securing research funding and promoting a culture of research excellence at the College. The submission of five grant applications in 2023, three more in progress and four planned for early 2024, underscores OSRS's dedication to advancing research endeavors. Creating an annual faculty training plan related to grant writing, grant administration, and research career support is intended to equip ULCHS faculty with the knowledge and skills needed to excel in research activities. This training plan will be implemented with a keen interest in not only enhancing individual capabilities but also contributing to the overall research output of ULCHS. The establishment of a knowledge management system for each faculty member has been a game-changer. This system provides shared access to pre-and post-award folders and related documents, fostering collaboration and knowledge sharing among faculty, ultimately leading to more successful research outcomes and easier post-award administration. Revamping the effort reporting and timesheet system using REDCap has simplified and improved the accuracy of tracking faculty contributions to research projects, ensuring that effort is appropriately allocated and documented. In 2022, ULCHS conducted a needs assessment and related gap analysis, guided by partners at Vanderbilt and Yale. To date, the College's resolution of high-priority items identified has led to a remarkable 52% reduction in high-priority gaps over the last year, demonstrating its commitment to continuous improvement and ability to adapt to evolving challenges. Collaboratively, OFS and OSRS are playing a significant role in ULCHS's transformative journey.

Camp xSEL 2023

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My Camp Experience

Author: Keifala M. Fofana, 2023 Camper

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“Do not expect the result you don’t work for.”  These were the words of a visiting guest speaker from the School of Pharmacy of the University of Liberia.

I heard him clearly because I was sitting right in the chapel at the Baptist Seminary where he spoke. 

My name is Keifala M. Fofana, and I come from Voinjama, Lofa County.

When I took the test that would qualify me to come to Camp xSEL, I doubted my ability. But it turned out that I went through the first and second tests, and I even passed the interview.  I don’t consider it my right to come to Camp xSEL.  Rather, I feel it is a privilege given to me by God for me to get some life and mind-transforming experiences. 

Before coming to camp, I was distracted by pleasure-seeking and negative friends.  When I came, I noticed that the ability to think outside of the box and envision things that cannot be seen requires focus.  Because of a lack of focus, my chances of reaching a higher level were at first compromised, and procrastinated.

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A Region of Sunshine

& Greenery: Recruiting

Camp xSEL Students

 in the Southeast

Not a minute was a waste for me at Camp xSEL, I always had something to think about before the next day.  This has improved my critical thinking skills.  Once, I heard a death news.  I started to wonder how humans breathe and what are the organs responsible for such a process.  At camp, we had a discussion on the respiratory system, and we did an experiment that clarified my doubts.  This was done through teamwork. Teamwork is important in every field, including the field of science. Everybody is unique.  Some people are analytical, others are imaginative, and can envision a wide range of different things.  By them working together, they progress and succeed more quickly and easily.  At Camp xSEL I developed cooperative skills because of teamwork. Scientists are curious to know why things happen and how they work.  At Camp xSEL, I realized that an individual who is interested in one of the sciences should be hungry for knowledge, analyze information and make critical decisions to solve experiential problems world problems, and figure out why things happen and how they work. I now tell myself, if I must be a great science student, I must be ambitious, focused and determined to study hard and solve critical problems. Before, I thought failure meant inability to succeed in anything I did, but I have realized that the effort I have been applying is less than the result I wanted.  After spending some time at Camp xSEL, I discovered that scientists are courageous people. They discover answers often but sometimes with numerous failures.  So, if I must solve critical problems, I need to consider failures as signs of less effort applied to get the result I want. I am going back to my county as a new and better Keifala M. Fofana, all because of this fundamental and life changing truth that I learned and applied: “Do not expect the result you do not work for.” So, I now set the bar high and promise myself that I will work more than ever before to achieve my dream of becoming a public health worker.

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Camp xSEL

THE BEST

POEM

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In the heart of nature's embrace, there lies a camp so grand, Where adventure and discovery go hand in hand. Camp xSEL, a haven for young souls to explore, A place where dreams take flight and memories forevermore.

Nestled amidst towering trees, its beauty knows no bounds, A sanctuary of laughter, where joy can always be found. From dawn till dusk, the days are filled with boundless fun, With every sunrise, a new adventure has just begun. 

But amidst the adventures, it's the lessons that remain, Camp xSEL teaches values, that forever will sustain. Kindness, respect, and teamwork, all held dear, creating a community, where everyone feels near.

As the sun sets on Camp xSEL, and the days draw to a close, The memories etched in hearts, forever brightly glow. For in this haven of wonder, where dreams take flight, Camp xSEL becomes a beacon, guiding us through life's delight.

Author: Frank Bright

             2023 Camper 

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Camp xSEL Biology teaching team-UL lab instrcutor, UL instructor, Margibi High School Teacher, Tubman University instructor at Camp xSEL 2023 graduation ceremony.

A Co-teaching

Model Adds up

to Realizing

the Goals

of Camp xSEL

Author: Comfort Enders,

             Deputy Director,

             Faculty and Student Learning

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From the inaugural iteration of Camp xSEL under the BRIDGE-U project, co-teaching has been employed as one of the strategies for realizing the

Author: Sydell Goll, Senior Coordinator, Faculty and Student Learning 

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Have you ever ridden a bike in a heavy downpour of rain? If you haven't, allow me to share that unforgettable experience with you.

But before we delve into that rain-soaked adventure, let me introduce you to Camp xSEL (Excellence in Science Education for Liberia). This remarkable program is run by the University of Liberia College of Health Sciences as part of the BRIDGE-U Project. It brings together 100 young talents hailing from all 15 counties of Liberia, all in the 11th and 12th grades, with one common aspiration: to pursue careers in the sciences.

The real challenge, however, lies in the recruitment process. To ensure fairness and transparency, the dedicated team embarks on a tough journey, navigating the entirety of Liberia's diverse counties. These students are not selected haphazardly; their schools nominate them, and their names are then forwarded to the County Education Officers (CEOs). It's only after thorough testing and interviews conducted by the camp xSEL team that the final selection is made.

On May 30, 2023, a fearless team of five set off on the Mission Aviation Fellowship – Liberia (MAF) aircraft, a small domestic plane destined for Maryland. Road conditions were far from ideal, forcing us to take to the skies. Despite the skilled pilot and a seemingly smooth flight, that hour and a half in the air felt interminable. Blame it on the rainy season that made the journey on a petite aircraft an adventure of its own. Finally, we touched down in the "City of Sunshine," though the sun remained elusive during our entire stay in Maryland. It rained ceaselessly for all seven days of our visit, with raindrops so colossal that even umbrellas surrendered to their might. Still, Maryland, a coastal gem surrounded by lush greenery, and steeped in Liberian culture and history, retained its enchanting allure. Our initial mission in Maryland involved conducting a training session for science teachers in the southeast. With hopes of establishing a satellite camp in Maryland in 2024, we seized this opportunity to foster relationships and collaboration with Tubman University, which might host our camp. The training was a success, with approximately 22 participants in attendance, albeit with a notable gender imbalance.

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My Camp

Experience

Author: Oretha M. Doe, 

             2023 Camper

             River Gee County

Author Keifala M. Fofana pictured at the Liberia Baptist Theological Seminary during Camp xSEL 2023.

Sydell Goll, CTLI Senior Coordinator for Faculty and Student Learning, on a recruitment journey from Harper, Maryland to Zwedru, Grand Gedeh, for the 2023 camp, pictured alongside her motorbike rider.

immediate and long-term goals of the “Excellence in Science Education for Liberia” as the acronym, Camp xSEL, means.

The immediate goal of this arrangement is to have a welcoming, student-centered learning space and, in the long term, replicate this model in the instructors’ own classrooms, thus multiplying the impact of the camp as instructors take enhanced teaching skills back to their home classrooms.

In my position as the Senior Deputy Director for Student and Faculty Learning and coming in from over 20 years of experience in K-12 teaching leadership (including classroom teaching), my multifaceted responsibilities at ULCHS-CTLI allow me the opportunity to plan and observe closely the pedagogy strategies underpinning the success of Camp xSEL each year.

My name is Oretha M. Doe.  I am from Gbeapo Multilateral High School in River Gee County.   

Since I was born, I never entered an airplane or even gone near it until I came to Camp XSEL. Oh, Camp xSEL has done great by choosing me.  

At first, I was afraid because of my imagination.  I soon realized that a plane is faster than a car.  The plane I rode had fourteen seats.  I sat near the window and saw the ocean.  I never knew that the ocean was so huge.  I had never seen the ocean before.  We don’t have an ocean in my county.  We have rivers.  When the plane landed, there were people working at the airport.  Some of them asked questions, while others helped carry the load[luggage].  

Author Oretha N. Doe  at the Camp xSEL 2023

graduation ceremony.

This year at camp I took a closer look at the curriculum as it was implemented in the classroom, which included the implementation of the co-instructor model. For this, we used instruments designed for the camp to capture and store classroom observation data and held post-observation conferences with instructors every week. There are two points to note. First, it is important to recognize that although the co-instructor model has some history and evidence of use as a pedagogical intervention for improvement in student learning in some contexts, it is not known to be implemented in high schools in Liberia. Secondly, the co-instructor component of this model is a major point of collaboration between the Ministry of Education and Camp xSEL. A good question in this discussion is: How have we planned and implemented the co-teaching model at Camp xSEL? The implementation arrangement is to match each lead instructor – a university instructor – with a high school teacher as co-instructor for each of the five subjects taught during the camp. In this arrangement, the office of the appointed Camp xSEL point person at the Ministry of Education sends in a list of science and mathematics teachers who are currently engaged in high school teaching as recommended teachers for the camp. Those recommended send in applications and curricula vitae, which are reviewed by the camp implementation team. Selected applicants sit for interviews, and final selections are made based on criteria and rubric set to match the camp goals. One of the criteria spelled out during the interview is that both lead instructors and co-instructors attend the pre-camp pedagogy training, which includes dedicated instructional planning time.  The arrangement is definitely not the teaching assistant (TA) model, with the TA taking turns to assist in teaching or teaching in the absence of the professor, a situation that we are more familiar with. Rather, in this co-teaching model, the instructor teams learn together, complete the instructional session plans together, and attend each of their classes together.  One might suppose that having two teachers in a class at the same time would cause chaos or distraction for the students. The reality is far from it! Here are what we observed and collected data on: One instructor delivers the planned lesson while the other remains in the classroom but usually not at the front. Both instructors monitored students’ activities during class time, providing quick feedback where necessary. It was observed that students were actually participating in the learning activities because they had real-time guidance and coaching where they needed it. The time-bound learning activities included in the plan were often carried out successfully within the instructional period because two persons going around, monitoring the activities, and providing real-time feedback in a class of 25 students take less time than one person would need.  In general, the classroom showed students’ involvement in the learning process. What we observed speaks favorably to the immediate goal of creating a welcoming, student-centered learning space. The long-term goal of the co-instructor model is that the camp instructors will later replicate what they learned and practiced during the 4-week camp in their classes, thus creating a ripple effect of the camp experience towards the goal of excellence in science education in high schools as a foundation for health and medical careers. This we look forward to.

Oh! Oh! Camp xSEL brought me to great light.  I saw beautiful buildings which, of course, I have never seen before.  The most important part to me was the lab demonstrations.  At first, I was so confused when I heard the word lab because I never entered a lab before.  We don’t have a science lab at our school.  I saw a microscope and it was my first experience.  I saw a beaker and so many other things. Camp xSEL helped me to be disciplined.  I joined the others in waking up every day around 5 a.m.   The camp exposed me to the city of Monrovia, the capital city of my country!  I went on field trips. I visited the Fendell campus of the University of Liberia. I visited the J. F.K. Hospital, Hotel Africa, and the conference Center.   The teachers at the camp respected us.  We, the students, respected each other also.  We played kickball, and basketball, and in a game, we learned about solving problems as a team. Here, I learned that we human beings are different.  We think differently and act differently.   Oh, Camp xSEL, the best place to be.

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Strong interest and confidence to pursue the health sciences

Glorious are they, that they cannot wither away. Their contributions to science and technology. Oh wise women, smart they are. As if they were powered by AI. I'd like to be numbered as one of them, smart in all angles of STEM. Because, glorious are they. From Science, they cannot wither away.

Women in Science

POEM

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Author: Adrienne Uchenna Duru, 2023 Camper

EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING AND ASSESSMENT LABORATORY 

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A side view of the Samuel Bowman Experiential Learning and Assessment Laboratory's technical space and Simulation Room 1

The Journey to Liberia's first High-Fidelity

Clinical Simulation Center

Author: Isaac Dolo, Senior Coordinator, ELAB

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The ELAB is the only high-fidelity simulation (HFS) center in Liberia, the team needed to understand how HFS works and what programs and policies needed to get into place. Therefore, I needed all hands -on deck. One of the most amazing and challenging tasks was to transform a non-structural space into a functional high-fidelity simulation center. This included recruiting staff, procuring furniture, erecting structures, and developing policies and programs.

Learning from other simulation centers across the world was one of the first steps to flow. Within a few weeks, along with the finance and procurement teams, I was able to launch the bid for the ELAB refurbishing. Simultaneously, I led the hiring of the Technician and administrative assistant. 

While construction and refurbishing were underway, I led a 3-person team to the amazing cities of Nairobi and Kijabe in Kenya for a month-long learning period. 

Kenya is beautiful, and Kijabe (where the training was conducted) is extremely cold and windy. This tiny city in the valley has a unique culture, and the inhabitants are welcoming.


 

In this religious city where there is a law on alcoholic beverage and cigarette consumption and sales, I harmoniously lived there for 3 weeks.  In the basement of the hospital, which houses the simulation center the 3 weeks of intensive didactic and practical simulation experience was held excellently. Even though I was learning about high-fidelity simulation in Kenya,  I had to in some way ensure construction and procurement were on track back in Liberia, which was a challenging and mind-blowing period.  With the high-level simulation training, the multiplicity of tasks, and timelines, I returned to Liberia after a month in Kenya to open the first simulation lab. I worked late hours to motivate and provide support to the team, it was indeed a challenging and fun time seeing myself wearing multiple “hats” of a construction engineer, human resource personnel, and clinician. The well-furnished high-fidelity Experiential Learning and Assessment lab was then opened for pre-service training on September 6, 2023. As of date, 16 clinical faculty members have been trained as HFS facilitators, and 135 pre-service learners (medical, physician assistant, and nursing students) have benefited from high and medium fidelity simulation sessions.

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L-R: ELAB Technologist George Monibah and Stephen Clapper, Project Manager, CELA - Vanderbilt Simulation Center, offering technical support during a simulation session at CELA

Emerging Technology

Specialist in Simulation

Author: George Monibah, ELAB Technologist

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It was at Yale that I first encountered SimDesigner and its effectiveness in scenario design. In the afternoon, I explored the Yale University campus, including the Dr. Harvey Cushing Neuro Library and the Beinecke Rare Books and Manuscripts Library. These visits revealed intriguing aspects, such as the preservation of human brains for decades and innovative fire-prevention measures for rare books. My day concluded with a drive to Poughkeepsie, NY to attend the Advanced Care and Maintenance Training course at Laerdal, the maker of ELAB's high-fidelity patient manikins. The training, which began on July 11, 2023, included five other simulation technicians. Interestingly, I was the only international student. As a prelude, we were given pens that none of us could get to write with, which we considered our first test. The four-day course focused on best practices for the effective maintenance of simulators.  At the end of the SimMan 3G course, each learner was tasked with disassembling and assembling the SimMan 3G simulator's head. Successful completion allowed us to take the comprehensive quiz and earn our certificates. During the advanced care and maintenance course for SimBaby and SimMan 3G at Laerdal, the experience was meaningful as It provided an in-depth understanding of the simulators and troubleshooting techniques. Active listening was a key to success, with course explanations aiding my performance on the quiz. My hands-on experience in disassembling and assembling the simulator increased my confidence in maintenance and troubleshooting.  The course was instrumental in increasing my skills in maintaining the simulators, enhancing efficiency at the ELAB, and with this knowledge we will continue to contribute to the success of the ELAB.

On July 10, 2023, I visited the Yale Center of Medical Simulation, where I was introduced to the simulation team by one of our principal investigators, Dr. Kristina Talbert Slagle, and Dr. Leigh Evans, the center's director.

During my time at the simulation center, I observed learners undergoing tasks to enhance their effectiveness and efficiency. I recall Dr. Evans sharing her experience of inserting a central line in simulation and how it prepared her for a similar task on her first day as a resident, emphasizing the significance of simulation in medical training. I spent the morning hours with the simulation technician, discussing various technical issues and strategies to minimize interruptions during sessions.

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L-R: George Monibah, ELAB Technologist, Hawa Koon, PhD, CTLI Deputy Director for ELAB, and Isaac Dolo, Senior Coordinator at ELAB, participate in a Learning Exchange visit at CELA, Vanderbilt University.

Samuel G. Bowman ELAB Team Learning Exchange Trip Yields Valuable Insights for Healthcare Education and Simulation in Liberia

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In a recent learning exchange trip to Vanderbilt's Center for Experiential Learning and Assessment, the Experiential Learning and Assessment Lab (ELAB) team at ULCHS gained transformative insights on integrating simulation curriculum in clinical training. The trip, spanning from July 14 to July 29, 2023, facilitated an immersive experience that left a lasting impact on the team heading Liberia’s only high-fidelity simulation laboratory at the John F. Kennedy Medical Center.

Read More: Samuel G. Bowman ELAB Team Learning Exchange Trip Yields Valuable Insights for Healthcare Education and Simulation in Liberia | LinkedIn

CONTINUING PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT (CPD)

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Representatives of Liberia's six health professional boards, alongside the Chief Medical Officer and Deputy Minister for Health Services, Francis Nah Kateh, MD, at the Official Launch of Liberia's Continuous Professional Development Guidelines.

Liberia Launches National Guidelines for Continuing Professional Development for Healthcare Professionals

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The College of Health Sciences, in collaboration with the World Health Organization, the Ministry of Health, and six regulatory boards, including the Liberia Medical and Dental Council (LMDC), the Liberian Board for Nursing and Midwifery (LBNM), the Liberia Pharmacy Board (LPB), the Liberia National Physician Assistant Board (LINPAB), the Liberia Environmental Health Board (LPHB), and the Board of Accreditation and Licensure of Medical Laboratory Technologists (BALMLT), launched the Guidelines for Continuing Professional Development for Healthcare Professionals on Monday, April 10, 2023, at the ULCHS Auditorium. BRIDGE-U: Liberia coordinated and facilitated the process of creating and validating these national guidelines. 

The launch event followed a one-day validation meeting on the CPD Guidelines held at the Corina Hotel, attended by representatives from the Ministry of Health, WHO, USAID, JFK, ULCHS, and BRIDGE-U: Liberia, as well as the six health professions' regulatory boards. The Ministry of Health emphasized the importance of obtaining and maintaining a practice license and encouraged the boards and associations to educate their members on this matter. "This is for us. Let's own it and do our best to validate it today. Moving forward, we are going to validate all of the training efforts, and this will help improve services for our people," said Bobby G. Logan, the Ministry of Health's Assistant Minister of Curative Service and Acting Deputy Minister and Chief Medical Officer.

Read More: Guidelines for Continuing Professional Development for Healthcare Professionals in Liberia Launch  - FrontPageAfrica (frontpageafricaonline.com)

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CPD systems needs assessment and progress for 6 regulatory boards

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L-R: Shirley Fahnbulleh, Senior Coordinator of CPD, engaged in a conversation with Mafugi Bojang, Registrar of the Gambia Nurse Board, during her Learning Exchange Trip to The Gambia.

CPD Senior Coordinator Engages in Strategic Discussions with West African Health Boards

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Shirley S. Fahnbulleh, Senior Coordinator for Continuing Professional Development (CPD) in Liberia, in May 2023 embarked on a learning exchange trip to The Gambia to attend the West African Post Graduate College of Nurses and Midwives (WAPCNM) conference.

During her visit, she engaged in strategic discussions with Health Boards from several West African countries, including Cameroon, The Gambia, Ghana, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone. The primary objective of these discussions was to assess the status of CPD within their respective countries and explore the potential for providing technical support to regions lacking CPD policies.

Shirley S. Fahnbulleh noted a key takeaway from her interactions was the adoption of a digital means for CPD and the shift away from traditional methods of congregating people for training. She further, “several countries in the region are now providing CPD through digital platforms, making learning more accessible and engaging”.

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OF

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CAL

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Innovation - Creation  Course

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Images from the HEALR Prize Award Dinner held at the Grand Royal Hotel.

Health Startups Win $50,000 in USAID Prizes

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On July 18, 2023, an award ceremony at the Royal Hotel in Sinkor, Monrovia celebrated the achievements of six teams of aspiring health entrepreneurs. These teams, comprising a total of nine members, were recognized for their outstanding performance in the Health Entrepreneurship Advancement Leveraging Research (HEALR) Creation Course Pitch Fest. The event showcased the remarkable work of LEO Nutrition,  Genesis Medicine & Research Center, Pad It Up, Health Line First Aid Delivery Service, Mertu Diagnostic Mobile Laboratory, and SADERON Pharmaceutical.

LEO Nutrition secured the top prize, receiving $20,000.00 USD, while Genesis Medicine & Research Center and Mertu Diagnostic Mobile Laboratory claimed the second and third positions, earning $15,000.00 USD and $7,500.00 USD, respectively. Additionally, Pad It Up, Health Line First Aid Delivery Service, and SADERON Pharmaceutical were each awarded $2,500.00 USD for the Promising Venture Prize.

The HEALR Creation Course, a collaborative effort between the ULCHS and the Consortia for Improving Medicine with