Dr. Frank Owusu-Sekyere writes on achievements and challenges of UGMS

University of Ghana Medical School (UGMS)
University of Ghana Medical School (UGMS)

Achievements and challenges of UGMS [University of Ghana Medical School]

Besides UGMS opening its arms to fledgling medical schools both public and private, answering the call from the Ministry of Health on different occasions to help establish many institutions and help strengthen others, the school as at last count has churned out over 4500 quality medical doctors.

Many products of the School have occupied the highest administrative positions in the health sector – the Ghana Health Service, the Military Medical Service, the Teaching Hospitals and the various health related institutions of the universities in Ghana. Most of the past Director Generals of the Ghana Health Service and many other directors of the service are products of UGMS. At the University of Ghana, one of the past Vice Chancellors, Prof C.N.B. Tagoe, the Deans of UGMS since 1998, the first four Provosts of the College of Health Sciences, the foundation Dean of the School of Allied Health Sciences, Past Directors of Noguchi Memorial institute for Medical Research and the current ag Dean and some past Deans  of the School of Public Health are /were alumni.

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The current Rector and Vice Rector of the Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons are all alumni of the school. Allow me to mention a few alumni to represent the teeming numbers who have held the name of Ghana high. One of such is Prof Frempong-Boateng who established the National Cardiothoracic Centre, a centre of excellence in West Africa for the management of cardiac disorders.
Some products of the school have risen to occupy international positions.

Some of these eminent alumni include Dr Anarfi Asamoah-Baah, who at a point was the Deputy Director-General of WHO, Dr Eunice Brookman Amissah, past WHO Vice President for Africa, and Dr Delanyo Dovlo, Director of Health Systems and Services Clusters in the WHO Regional Office for Africa. A number of products from the school are also seriously engaged in the “Brain Gain” programme, either as individuals or NGOs who do a great honour and service to mother Ghana.

Some other alumni of the School have set up very viable research groups and projects in the country that help in medical manpower development. Some alumni have established first class medical centres and facilities to provide medical care to Ghanaians. Notable among them are Dr Felix Anyah of Holy Trinity Medical Centre who has established the first medical spa in the country; Dr Edem Hiadzi of Lister Hospital and Fertility Centre, Dr Adrian Nii Oddoye of Akai House Clinic, Prof Enyonam Yao Kwawukume of Family Health Hospital and Rev Prof and Prof  Hesse of Accra College of Medicine.

Other alumni have spearhearded research in the field of medicine worldwide working from home. These include Profs David Ofori-Adjei  Kwadwo Koram, Fred Binka, Irene Agyepong among others. Some alumni have heeded the call for humanitarian service. Dr Fuseini Abdulai, an alumnus established Sheikhinah  Clinic for the poor and destitute in Tamale in 1992 which provides free medical and surgical services to the poor. The clinic outlived him and now includes a feeding programme and home for over 1000 mentally deranged and needy persons in the Tamale metropolis on a daily basis. UGMS class of 1979 supports Sheikhinah Clinic every year.

The school has also contributed its quota in the field of national leadership in the country. Prof Kwabena Frimpong Boateng, Prof Agyemang Badu Akosa, Dr Kwaku Afriyie, Dr Addo-Kufour, Dr Richard Anane, Dr Edward Omane Boamah and Dr Anthony Nsiah-Asare are few examples that readily come to mind who have and continue to contribute to the national development.

There won’t be enough ink to print contributions from alumni in healthcare delivery in Ghana and the world over.

These achievements notwithstanding, there are real challenges. The biggest challenge of the School has been funding. Direct government support for the School’s budget annually now covers mainly staff emoluments and therefore there is very little left for service. As a result, the school is expected to generate funds internally to supplement its budget and fee-paying students – both foreign and local – have been helpful. This however places a burden on parents and guardians and as such the establishment of a needy student fund is long overdue.

The School is battling with a large proportion of aging faculty, as it has become increasingly difficult to employ qualified doctors within and outside Ghana to teach. Poor remuneration and conditions of service which do not guarantee a reasonably comfortable retirement is a big factor but even worse is the harsh reality that the remuneration and end-of-service benefits of the doctors in the MOH and other organizations are better than that of our committed and aging lecturers.

As a result, young consultants are unwilling to be recruited into the Medical School as full-time lecturers. The need to attract more teaching hands cannot be overemphasized because without teachers, there can be no expansion. High academic standards need to be maintained to ensure that the School’s ranking remains among the best.

Teaching facilities in terms of space and equipment have all been stretched to their maximum capacities. The Basic Science Building which originally housed about 50 students in a class now hosts about 200 students. The school is unable to increase its intake of 150 students for the regular programme and 50 for the Graduate Entry Medical Programme due to lack of infrastructure and up to date laboratory and simulation equipment. Hopefully, when the envisaged School of Biomedical Sciences being built at Legon comes on stream, with more clinical teaching sites to augment the Korle Bu  Teaching Hospital, more students could be admitted.

We can go on and on but the fact remains that the 60th anniversary of UGMS is not only worth celebrating but has earned its place in the annals of history.

Once again, a recap of activities lined up;

Wednesday, March 2: Launch and Blood Donation This is past-should it still be here?

Wednesday, March 9: Alumni Day and Games

Thursday, March 17: Public Forum/Webinar

Friday, March 18:  Quiz on GTV (“what do you know” and Debate)

Wednesday, March 23: Open Day, Exhibition and Renaming of Skills Lab

Friday, March 25: Anniversary Lecture

Saturday, March 26: Anniversary Luncheon

Sunday, March 27: Thanksgiving Service

Be on the lookout for various health talks and programs on social print and electronic media. Can we all let our social media handles buzz with UGMS@60?

astom2@yahoo.com

UGMS Class of 2002

Written on behalf of the Anniversary Planning Committee

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