Three women who are health care leaders in their native Liberia—and with whom UMass Medical School is collaborating to rebuild the country’s health care system—paid a visit earlier this month.
Bernice Dahn, MD, deputy minister of health service and chief medical officer of Liberia, Wede Brownell, PhD, provost and vice president of academic affairs for the University of Liberia (UL) and Ophelia Weeks, PhD, dean of the School of Science and Technology at UL, were in Massachusetts to participate in the inaugural conference of the Public University Initiative of the Women in Public Service Project (WPSP). Founded in 2011 as an initiative of the U.S. Department of State and several private women’s colleges, and now expanding to include public universities, the WPSP seeks to advance women to positions of influence in governments and civic organizations worldwide.
Drs. Dahn, Brownell and Weeks were participants on a panel devoted to a discussion about the role of women and health care in country development. The conference was hosted at UMass Lowell, where 15 women from Liberia, Afghanistan, Turkey and Northern Ireland who are able to have an impact in key areas in their nations were invited by representatives from the five UMass campuses. The UMMS invitees were selected by the school’s conference representatives Judith Ockene, PhD, the Barbara Helen Smith Chair in Preventive and Behavioral Medicine, professor of medicine and associate vice provost for gender and equity, and Luanne Thorndyke, MD, vice provost for faculty affairs, in consultation with Katherine Luzuriaga, MD, professor of pediatrics and medicine, and associate provost of global health; Carol Bova, PhD, professor of nursing; and Donna Gallagher, MSN, instructor in family medicine & community health and co-director of global health.
Before returning to Liberia after the conference’s close, Dahn, Brownell and Weeks visited UMMS for tours of the Lamar Soutter Library and the Simulation Center, and met with UMMS collaborators from several departments. These included Elaine Martin, DA, director of library services, and James Comes, EdD, formerly associate director of library information services, who have been to Liberia several times to help rebuild library services at Liberia’s medical school, nursing school and major hospital that were decimated by civil war.
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