· One small step, but a gigantic leap for Ghana.
The maiden matriculation ceremony of Accra College of Medicine (at their premises at Adjirigarno, Saturday, 30th April 2016) was both emotional and historic. It cast my mind back to an article by K.B. Asante titled “Learning From Our Heroes,” (Daily Graphic, June 13, 1994). He wrote, “Nkrumah one afternoon called Charlie Easmon and told him to get his colleagues together to start a medical school. ‘You can do it, you know,’ he told Easmon. Quartey, Dodu, Badoe, Sai and the other specialists at Korle Bu were formed into a team to build the medical school under Charlie Easmon as dean.” The rest is history, as “the genius of Nkrumah pierced through the fog [and] provided true leadership”.
No matter what one does in life, when we are called for a purpose, and work hard at it everyday, the results are fulfilling and the call becomes historic. All that magic is encapsulated in the sturdy passion to serve humanity.
The mission of the Accra College of Medicine (ACM) was defined by Dr (Mrs) Afua Hesse as follows: “Our passion is to produce medical doctors who will see themselves as taking part in a crusade: the crusade against disease, poverty, ignorance, underdevelopment and mediocrity, making full use of innovative science and technology.
“We aim to produce medical doctors who will look at the face of the diseases afflicting our people (most of which are preventable), and say: ‘This is unacceptable,’ and be moved with ‘heart power’ for their patients / clients and their families and communities to do something about it.”
Dr Afua Hesse, the co-founder (alongside her amiable husband Rev Dr Adukwei Hesse) is a Paediatric surgeon and a medical educator with over 39 years of experience in both the UK and Ghana. With the Gold medal from the University of Ghana Medical School in 1976, and a distinction in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, she’s a woman of many firsts. She was the first female Paediatric Surgeon in Ghana, and the first woman to act as CEO for the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital.
Her advice to the pioneering students: “You will undoubtedly face obstacles, but you will persevere; for you are destined to win because you are on the side of good. Service to God and humanity should be your motivation. The Adinkra symbols on our crest – Nsaa and Nyame Nti – say it all.”
She added, “We are also showcasing the National Association for the Deaf who will from next semester teach our students in Communication classes, the skills to be able to relate – with ‘heart-power’ – to patients with hearing disabilities.”
Other speakers included Professors Stephen Addae (Chairman of the ACM Council) and Ernest Aryeetey (Vice-Chancellor, University of Ghana).
Opportunities in the medical profession
In his speech as a special guest at the ceremony, Martin Eson-Benjamin, Chairperson, University of Ghana College of Health Sciences, said, “Over the years, Ghana has through the limited investments in our medical and allied training institutions, denied many students with good potentials, the opportunity to become medical doctors … Deservedly, lots of compliments have been heaped on the foresight and enterprise of the founders of this College.”
To the medical students, he said, “While you nursed your secret ambitions, here were some concerned persons also thinking of how best to enhance the opportunities for many high school students, to gain admission into a medical training institution and to ease the anxieties of students and parents. It is not a secret, every year our country is not able to admit some potentially excellent medical students, despite the very poor doctor/patient ratio, now estimated at one doctor to 10,000 patients.”
In this column (June 25, 2012) under the title, “Superior healthcare delivery through innovations,” I noted that “The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends a minimum of 25 doctors, nurses, and midwives for every 10,000 people … the European Union tops the chart with 34 physicians to 10,000 people. The US has 24; Japan – 22, China – 14; South Africa – 7; India – 6.” African countries including Nigeria and Ghana trailed at the bottom of expectations.
The humble beginnings of the Accra College of Medicine is a blessing. The pioneers now stand as fourteen students: seven at level 100, and seven at level 200. For the next academic year, September / October 2016, the fresh enrolments are expected at both level 100 and 200.
The College sports a dry lab with the “Anatomage” digital cadaver which students can dissect to explore the anatomy of the human body. The “Anatomage” Table – the only one in West Africa – is a technologically advanced visualization system and is used by many world leading medical schools.
The lab has also a real human cadaver (named Mr “Alve-olus) that has been “plastinated” using modern technology and doesn’t need refrigeration. This body is pre-dissected showing the body in a lifelike state so that students have a two and three dimensional bodies to learn from. The experiments are mainly technology based without animals or chemicals.
Students will do their Practicals at Ridge Hospital, Accra; Sunyani Regional Hospital; Koforidua Regional Hospital; C & J Center, Tema; Mount Olive Hospital, Techiman; and other district hospitals and clinics. The ACM is accredited by both the National Accreditation Board, and the Medical and Dental Council. [Applications may be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org].