The Impact of LSTM MSC Global Health on my career as a health worker at Ministry of Health during COVID-19: A practical experience from Liberia

Blog 7 Jul 2021
Anthony Bettee, Liberia
Anthony Kerkula Bettee

I am Anthony Kerkula Bettee, a student of the LSTM MSc Global Health Programme. I developed an interest in enrolling at LSTM when I started working with the University of Liberia Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation and Calling time for Neglected Tropical Diseases (COUNTDOWN) in Liberia as a Research Uptake Officer.

My interaction with staff from LSTM in conducting Social Science Research drew my attention and interest in studying global health at LSTM. After I expressed my interest, COUNTDOWN and LSTM provided me the opportunity by providing me a scholarship to study at this great institution.

I am working presently with the Ministry of Health in Liberia within the Neglected Tropical Diseases Programme as Coordinator for the Schistosomiasis and Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis. Due to my experience during the EBOLA outbreak in Liberia from 2014-2015, I was appointed to manage one of the COVID-19 Testing Centre in Monrovia.

Radio Talk Show on COVID-19 Awareness in Gbarnga Bong County

The experiences gained from DLTROP201 on Global Health help to build my capacity in the management of health emergencies such as COVID-19. This course provided a broad knowledge on health risk and transition, the social determinants of health, managing an outbreak, globalization and health, health protection, and promotion. With these practical experiences from the course, I was prepared to manage the COVID-19 Testing Center properly. However due to a shortage of qualified staff at the Ministry of Health, as a student of global health, I have to continues to perform this duty to save lives through early detection of cases of COVID-19 and continues with my study at LSTM at the same time.

Community Health Volunteers Trained on COVID-19 Awareness

The Neglected Tropical Diseases program where I work also was engage with case management and risk communication for COVID-19 response where I was also involved within 5 counties (Lofa, Nimba, Grand Gedeh, Maryland, and Grand Kru) located in the northern and south-eastern part of Liberia. I conducted training of health workers on case management and risk communication on COVID-19 in these counties. These field activities also pose challenges to my study as a global health student due to the lack of internet access to these counties during my field visit which lasted for more than one month. The health promotion module of the course was very useful in the engagement of community members and the creation of awareness on COVID-19 as a new disease in Liberia and the world at large.

As a global health student, the experiences also gained from the course were used to trained health workers and monitor community health volunteers in training on COVID-19 awareness at the health facility level.

FGS Improvement Cycle Team in Liberia

The module on research methods was also useful in my daily work as a technical lead for Female Genital Schistosomiasis research that is been presently conducted in Liberia in collaboration with the University of Liberia Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (UL-PIRE) with Financial and technical support from calling Time for Neglected Tropical Diseases (COUNTDOWN) in Saclepea-Mah District in Nimba County and Pantakpaai District in Bong County. The research is entitled: Integrating the Detection and Management of Female genital Schistosomiasis into the Health System in highly endemic areas for Schistosomiasis in Bong and Nimba counties, Liberia. With this research work and my school work at LSTM Global Health Programme, I have gained a lot of practical experience and knowledge from the course that has made this research successful. A training manual for health worker was developed and cases of Female Genital Schistosomiasis has been diagnosed in both counties. Health workers were selected from different institutions to form part of the quality improvement cycle team for the Female Genital Schistosomiasis research project in Liberia. Stakeholders were selected from the Ministry of Health, Medical boards, County Health Team, and partners.

In conclusion, the Global Health Programme at LSTM has really been useful in achieving most of these goals in the health sector in Liberia. It is my hope that the knowledge gain from the Global Health MSc Course will help to strengthen the health system in Liberia.