Marquee 400m hurdler Kaliese Spencer recalls last season as bittersweet but remains confident that should she medal at this year’s Olympics in Rio, Brazil, it would put the icing on the cake as her greatest year ever.Spencer is one of the most successful track athletes in the history of the Diamond League circuit with a total of 21 wins.In an interview with The Gleaner, Spencer said that 2015 was a bittersweet season for her. “It began great. Unfortunately, I got an injury and I wasn’t able to complete my season as I would have wanted to but just using that as a stepping stone for this season.”Jamaica and the world have definitely not seen Kaliese Spencer’s best. I think this season is going to be a great season, so just watch out.”Despite her recent IAAF World Championships medal failures in the finals, Spencer maintains that she is over those disappointments, settled in her new training club, and looking at improving.”I have a great set of coaches working with – great people, great athletes – and it’s like a family,” she outlined at Cameron Blazers, adding that it would help her medal this year.”Definitely, I will be on the medal podium (Rio Olympic Games). I just want to stay healthy, and once God is in it, I will be a winner and I will be there,” Spencer continued.”I am over that (disappointments) long time ago. I don’t stay long on one thing. I just get going. OK, that was it. I am strong in faith, and I believe that God is by my side, and I believe that one day I will be victorious, and I am just working towards that,” she said.Though Spencer admits that she has a lot left in the tank, she did not want to predict how fast she could run this year.”I am not thinking about (times) that. I am just thinking about focusing and getting my technique better and getting stronger and staying healthy, and once I stay healthy, the times will come,” stressed Spencer.
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf delivered a wide-ranging address to the nation last Wednesday, pointing to a number of plans her government envisages toward post-Ebola recovery. She rightly included improvement in the healthcare delivery system, as well as education, agriculture and Liberian participation in business.But she spoke in generalities and presented no specific outline of what she intends in each of these areas.The Address could be described as essentially lackluster (bland), primarily because she spoke in generalities, gave us no bold prescription of how she and her government intend to jumpstart the economy, and most especially the revitalization of the healthcare delivery system.She herself and many other partners have stressed that the Ebola epidemic was allowed to wreak its deadly havoc and do it so rapidly because of the weak healthcare system in all three countries—Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.This is what led the People’s Republic of China, through its Ambassador, Zhang Yue, to announce last October his government’s pledge “to work with other international partners to help [rebuild] and modernize Liberia’s health sector in the post-Ebola period. Similar pledges followed from the Americans and the European Union. This newspaper has been pleading with the government to seize this golden opportunity and devise a comprehensive and detailed plan for the revitalization of healthcare in Liberia. But we have yet to see one. The Ministry of Health (MOH) reacted verbally to our last Monday Editorial on this subject, saying that indeed a plan had been devised. But the plan is not that impressive.In her address, the President mentioned a ten-year program for the training of healthcare professionals, improving and expanding services at primary and secondary healthcare centers, upgrading county hospitals and establishing three regional hospitals. She further spoke of what she called “the repositioning of John F. Kennedy Medical Center (JFK) to meet its envisioned role as a national referral center.”There were, however, no specifics. Which healthcare professionals does she intend to train—are they nurses, paramedics or medical doctors—or all three? How does she intend to do that? Both the Tubman National Institute for Medical Arts (TNIMA) and most especially the A.M. Dogliotti College of Medicine are crying for help. We recently reported that the College’s students’ allowances, like the salaries of faculty and staff of the university itself, are eight months in arrears. Does the President know this? What plans are in the offing to fix that, then move on to the larger question of reequipping and expanding the college? George Fahnbulleh, a top commentator on the Observer web site, wrote that “with a 3% net population growth rate, Liberia will have an estimated population of 6.74 million in 2030 and will need . . . approximately 1,752 doctors to meet [the] average.” According to him, we need to produce 105 new doctors every year for the next 15 years? This, it seems to us, underscores the urgency of immediately addressing the needs of the Medical College.What intervention plans has the government for the West African Post Graduate Medical College? The college needs its own campus, with well equipped buildings and a topnotch teaching staff to train medical specialists. Are there any plans for that?Where exactly upcountry does the President intend to place the three referral hospitals? And which healthcare centers are targeted for improvement and expansion? What are JFK’s own plans for revitalization? Recent statistics show that our maternal death rate is rising. That is a sign that infant mortality is not far behind. Yet there is only one Liberian gynecologist at the JFK—the Chief Medical Officer himself, Dr. Billy Johnson; and only one pediatrician, Dr. Sia Camonor. Numerous other specialists are lacking at the nation’s leading referral hospital. What are the JFK’s own plans for training specialists or reengaging Liberian medical specialists in the Diaspora?Herein lay the urgent need to build the West African Post Graduate College of Medicine. We pray that the President and her Health Ministry team, in collaboration with the partners, especially the Chinese, Americans and EU, will as soon as possible devise the plan, so that we may begin the urgent task of rebuilding our healthcare sector and turn Liberia into one truly healthy nation.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)