COVID-19 Case Study: Higher Education Partnerships to Strengthen Health Systems in Liberia
Globally, the COVID-19 pandemic is one of the most severe health crises in the past century. However, in the context of Liberia and the West Africa region, it is one of multiple infectious disease outbreaks that have posed challenges in the last decade. While there are many ongoing health stresses caused by malaria, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, and various diarrheal diseases, the region has also had to contend with the crisis of an Ebola epidemic in 2013-2016; these acute and chronic stresses have created significant shocks for governments and healthcare systems in the region. While the Ebola epidemic exerted extreme stress on Liberia’s health systems, it also uncovered several areas that could be strengthened to provide future resiliency. In particular, Liberia’s higher education institutions (HEIs) were identified as being key components of the country’s overall future strength, particularly in terms of medical education and specialized care for infectious disease patients. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement in Research Liberia (PEER/Liberia) program strengthened Liberia’s sole medical school to build resilience against unexpected shocks.