A courtesy call was paid on the 12th June, 2023 to the Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Sierra Leone, Brig. Gen. Prof Foday Sahr by a team of international tutors from the Broad Institutes (Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institutes of Technology) and their local counterparts from the College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences (COMAHS) as part of a farewell gesture to the University authorities after wrapping up a week-long intensive training of 26 postgraduate students (11 PhD and 15 Master) of COMAHS at the Galliness Paradise in Bo City.
Leader of the delegation to the VC&P, Haja Dr. Isata Wurie, Dean of the Faculty of the Medical Laboratory Sciences and Diagnostics at COMAHS and the Postgraduate Course Coordinator gave an update of the course by stating that the course started with an online interaction between the tutors and the students, and that the students subsequently requested for their tutors to be on the ground, which they did.
Associate Professor Wurie pointed out that the current phase of the course is fully sponsored by Harvard University, adding that they are preparing to support another two sets of courses and have also confirmed support for two students – one PhD and one Masters to add to the ten masters and PhD students already supported to by the West African Health Organisation (WAHO).
She also noted that the courses are being tailored according to the expectations of the University in addition to providing not only technical support but also supervision and mentorship also pointing out that the current team of tutors is the second after another team of nine faculty members (international and local) that are teaching the courses gratis.
On his part, the Vice-Chancellor and Principal of USL, Brig. Gen. Prof. Foday Sahr welcomed the team from the Broad Institutes and thanked them for their support to the University of Sierra Leone.
He pointed out that the USL Administration started working on the programme in 2021 when COMAHS initiated the idea of a postgraduate programme in medical science and had some students registered for the programme.
He also noted that the University Administration is thinking of structuring the course like it is done in other institutions – that is, students pursuing the postgraduate programme would graduate initially with a postgraduate diploma in various medical science fields that would include disciplines like Research Methods, Epidemiology, Biostatistics, Bioengineering and Informatics so that those students who would not be able to meet the graduation criteria for a PhD and Masters would be able to graduate with a postgraduate diploma.
Before the courtesy visit to the USL VC&P, the team from the Broad Institutes had concluded a week-long training of 26 postgraduate Students of COMAHS in various medical science disciplines that include: epidemiology and infectious disease modelling: history, theory and applications.
The training targeted research scientists, medical doctors, pharmacists, and laboratory scientists pursuing a Master of Science (MSc), Master of Philosophy (MPhil), and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degrees in various medical science disciplines.
The said training is geared towards fulfilling the University’s goal of building staff capacity and also in line with the national agenda of human capacity building in the area of providing quality health services in the country.
Earlier, in his goodwill statement at the close of the training in Bo, the Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education, Dr. David Moinina Sengeh expressed delight over the collaborative efforts by the University of Sierra Leone and the Broad Institutes in introducing academic research areas such as bioengineering, biostatistics and bioinformatics in Sierra Leone.
Dr. Sengeh further expressed optimism about the outcomes of the training noting that it could serve as a bedrock in providing academic variety in the area of specialisation for future medical students.
Expressing the benefits of the training from his perspective as one of the PhD candidates that benefitted from the training, Morrison Jusu described the training and the entire postgraduate programme as an opportunity for a national medical science transformation in the country.