Committed to Change: Liberian Medical Student David Pledges to Serve Communities

MBBS’29 Student, David B-Imas Saizay at Butaro Campus. Photo by Asher Habinshuti / UGHE

David B-Imas Saizay, a second-born in a family of four from Liberia, is currently pursuing his dream of becoming a medical doctor at the University of Global Health Equity (UGHE) in Rwanda.

David never imagined pursuing a medical career. As a young boy, he admired his uncle, a soldier, and dreamed of following in his footsteps. He was fascinated by the soldiers he watched on his favorite shows and envisioned a future in the military. 

However, his aspirations took a significant turn when he fell ill and required surgery when he was just eight years old. Diagnosed with appendicitis, he underwent surgery that would alter his life path.

After the surgery, I told my parents I wanted to become a doctor,” David recalls.  

This life-changing experience revealed to him that saving lives and serving his country could be achieved through medicine, not just the military. It set him on a journey toward a medical career, fueled by a desire to make a profound difference as a doctor, particularly for financially disadvantaged individuals who cannot afford the quality healthcare they deserve. 

After graduating from high school, David faced the challenge of being admitted to medical education opportunities in Liberia and abroad, leading him to initially study environmental science. However, his dedication to medicine never wavered. He spent time teaching junior high students subjects like math, general science, and biology, which further solidified his commitment to community service. 

Upon learning about UGHE through the Liberia Ministry of Health, David applied and was thrilled to be selected. At UGHE, he finds the connection between students and faculty incredibly inspiring.

I’ve never experienced studying in a school where I can freely and openly talk to my instructors,” he shares.  

David (fifth from the right) with colleagues and staff at UGHE, enjoying a hike in Butaro in 2024

He is particularly impressed by the diverse and inclusive environment at UGHE, along with the unique educational approaches at UGHE, such as Community-Based Education (CBE) and the One Health concept, which emphasizes comprehensive healthcare perspectives.

David values the sense of community at UGHE, participating in various extracurricular activities like biking, gym sessions, and games like ping-pong. He also enjoys social outings such as dancing, hiking, and engaging with the Butaro community through initiatives like Community Service known in Rwanda as “Umuganda”, Community Based Training’s “Walth the Talk” field visits, and others. 

These activities enhance his interpersonal skills, which he believes are crucial for effective patient communication in his future medical career and a conscious responsible citizen in his community. 

We are one big family at UGHE. We are learning how to bring effective impacts in our communities not only as doctors, but as responsible citizens,” he emphasizes. 

David proudly raises the Liberian flag during Culture Day at UGHE’s Butaro Campus in April 2024. Photo by Aimable Uwimana / UGHE.

David’s experience at UGHE is shaping him not only as a doctor but as a global health leader and advocate. He appreciates the early exposure to social sciences and real-life scenarios in his classes, which he believes are essential for becoming a skilled diagnostician and empathetic physician. 

According to recent statistics, Liberia’s healthcare system faces significant challenges. According to the Liberia Medical and Dental Council, the country has just 298 doctors for a population of 5 million – a doctor-patient ratio of 1:15,000. This is considerably lower than the World Health Organization’s recommended 1:1,000 ratio to adequately run a country’s healthcare system. The healthcare infrastructure is often inadequate, especially in rural areas and many Liberians, particularly those in financially disadvantaged and rural communities, lack access to quality healthcare. 

David is passionate about addressing these disparities. He envisions a healthcare system where quality services are accessible to all Liberians, regardless of their financial status. “Healthcare is a fundamental human right,” he asserts, “and it should not have a price attached to it.” 

The Liberian health care system struggles with an alarming combination of few surgical providers and low provider productivity with the national density of all surgical providers being 6.7 per 100,000 population, and the density of specialists, including anesthesiologists being 1.6 per 100,000 population. David looks forward to contributing to bridging this gap as a surgeon.  

Upon completing his studies, David intends to honor his Umusanzu contract by returning to Liberia and working for the Ministry of Health. His goal is to be a doctor for the people, prioritizing the needs of the most vulnerable and implementing innovative healthcare solutions. 

In David’s own words, “UGHE is training me not just to become a doctor but also a Global Health Leader and Advocate. I believe that all the skills and knowledge I will acquire over the next six years will help me in delivering quality and proper healthcare to every Liberian despite their social background.”