Barring any eventualities, Ghana will soon have its second private medical college to help train medical doctors in this country.
Situated in a serene East Legon Extension in Accra is a four-storey building with a beautiful green façade housing the yet-to-be-opened private medical school, Accra College of Medicine.
A couple of weeks ago, I caught up with the President of the College of Medicine, Professor Afua Hesse, the first female Pediatric Surgeon in Ghana, to find out about the college and what inspired her and others to invest in the honourable idea of a medical college.
Training of medical students
According to her, two years ago when she finally retired from the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital as the acting Chief Executive Officer, one of her sons and a daughter-in-law casually suggested that they considered setting up a college to help train medical doctors. She and her husband, Rev. Professor Adukwei Hesse, who had both taught for years at the University of Ghana Medical School, thought it a workable proposition and took it up as a retirement project.
Two years on, through dedication and hard work, the Accra College of Medicine, which is affiliated to the University of Ghana and to be mentored by the University of Ghana School of Medicine and Dentistry, is gearing up towards officially opening its doors to commence enrolment in early 2016.
Taking me round the four-storey facility, which would initially train 60 medical students, I was overwhelmed with the level of investment Rev. Professor and Professor Mrs Hesse, as private individuals and in collaboration with Ghanaian investors, have made towards establishing the college.
With a faculty of over 60 academicians, the college’s entry qualifications would focus on senior secondary school certificate holders (SSSCE/WASSCE) with aggregate 9 or better grades as well as students with Baccalaureate (French), International Baccalaureate (IB), GCE (Cambridge) O and A Levels, IGCSE O and A Levels, American High School Grades 12 and 13 and qualifications which have equivalences to the WASSCE/SSSCE and GCE A Levels.
The good news is that the college will also open entries to graduates with degrees in a science-related discipline for the Graduate Entry Programme in Medicine (GEPM). All prospective applicants will go through entrance and selective interview processes that will ensure excellence.
The college’s mission is to provide world-class medical education that is relevant, research oriented, tailored towards solving Ghana and Africa’s health problems, producing unique graduates who are committed to excellence and have “heart power”.
Professor Hesse told me that apart from the passion to help train medical doctors as their contribution to bridging the doctor-population ratio in the country, which is said to be at 1:10, 452, according to the 2012 Ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda Annual Report, the emphasis on training future doctors would be in enabling them to treat life as sacred. She said training would focus on treating everyone with dignity and focusing on the value of life over all other considerations, including money, adding “Life is divine”.
The crest for the college encapsulates what the college stands for. It has four symbols including the Hippocratic symbol, a book which symbolises knowledge (both special knowledge and general knowledge) and two Adinkra symbols, “Nsaa” representing excellence, genuineness and authenticity and “Nyame Nti” representing faith and trust in God.
The college, as I saw it, is fully equipped with air-conditioned lecture halls and both dry and wet laboratories. The dry laboratory has an Anatomage table, the first in West Africa. The table is an electronic tool with male and female bodies used to teach students how to dissect the human body electronically and reconstitute it after dissection as opposed to the practice where a physical dead body is used and, after dissecting the parts are disposed of. In addition, they also have the first plastinated model in West Africa to supplement teaching of Anatomy.
The college also has fully air-conditioned modern library, a multi-purpose over-sized hall and a student centre where students would be able to take their meals, study or take some rest. There is an adjacent car park to accommodate as many vehicles as possible as well as 24-hour security protection.
There is a true need for private medical facilities to add to the available training facilities while adding to the number of medical doctors. The efforts, therefore, of the initiators of the Accra Medical College are laudable. Now, qualified students, whose hopes of becoming medical doctors were dashed due to lack of space in the existing public universities, have some respite.