Obstetrician Gynaecologist Dr. Kofi Effah appeals for policy change

BY: Isaac Yeboah

An Obstetrician Gynaecologist and a Member of the Ghana College of Surgeons, Dr. Kofi Effah says a policy in force that prohibits Members of the College from training Residents in Obstetrics and Gynaecology in Ghana is causing more harm than good and needs a relook.

The Faculty of Obstetrics and Gynaecology in the Ghana College of Surgeons insists that only Fellows of the Faculty can train Residents, a situation that he says has culminated in little practical experience for Residents.

“Unfortunately, there are few Fellows of the Faculty outside the Teaching Hospitals in Accra and Kumasi (and Cape Coast, Ho and Tamale).”

Dr. Effah, currently with the Catholic Hospital at Battor in the North Tongu District of the Volta Region, made the appeal in article he authored in which he shares his practical experience with the policy.

Read the full article below


Getting practical experience for Residents in Obstetrics and Gynaecology in Ghana: should we look at the situation again?

I was one of the first Obstetrician Gynaecologists trained by the Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons. We started the training in 2004 and completed the Membership programme in 2008. As part of the training, we had to spend one year in a 'District' to, among other things, get practical skills. I spent one year in Battor (under two Obstetrician Gynaecologists, Founding Fellows of the Ghana College of Surgeons, who have since left Battor).

I was actually posted to Effia Nkwanta Regional Hospital in Sekondi Takoradi for my 'District Rotation.' I changed it to Catholic Hospital, Battor when the person posted to Battor decided not to go. The person decided to stay with the West African College of Surgeons. At the time, the Ghana College of Surgeons was new, many preferred the older and more prestigious West African College of Surgeons.

Why did I decide to go back to Battor? This was a very, very busy hospital. I went there as a Medical Officer in April 2002, and in the two and half years I stayed there before I had to go to Accra (Korle Bu) to start the Residency Programme, I had performed over 230 total abdominal hysterectomies (yes, over two hundred and thirty, as a Medical Officer!). In my one year stay in Battor as a Resident, I performed over 100 total abdominal hysterectomies.

Times have changed. The one year District Rotation was changed to six months. At the moment, it is three months. I understand it may be reduced further to two months. The implication of this is obvious. Residents spend most of their time in the few teaching hospitals accredited for training. Having to compete for cases to operate (even to assist), they end up with little practical experience.

What has contributed to this? Officially, the Faculty of Obstetrics and Gynaecology in the Ghana College of Surgeons has taken a decision that only Fellows of the Faculty can train Residents. Members of the College cannot train Residents. Unfortunately, there are few Fellows of the Faculty outside the Teaching Hospitals in Accra and Kumasi (and Cape Coast, Ho and Tamale). Catholic Hospital, Battor, for example, cannot train Residents because in spite of the volume of work done there the three Obstetrician Gynaecologists currently working in the hospital are all Members of the Ghana College of Surgeons, not Fellows.

Dr. Hayford Atuguba is one of such Members of the Ghana College in Battor. An extremely fine Obstetrician Gynaecologist who performs great surgeries - from vaginal hysterectomy and pelvic floor repair to surgeries in the retroperitoneal space including surgeries on the ureters and urinary bladder... I know some other Members of the Ghana College of Surgeons in other hospitals who are very experienced in other areas.

The questions that come up are:

  1. Can some experienced Members of the Ghana College of Surgeons be allowed to train Residents in some areas?
  2. What criteria should be used to select these Members of the College to train Residents?

It is interesting that while Battor cannot officially train Residents, some Specialists (when they have completed their training and realise they lack practical skills) take time (sometimes up to 3 months) off their schedules and come to Battor for training in some practical skills under these same Members of the Ghana College of Surgeons who could not officially train them when they were Residents.

I think the Faculty of Obstetrics and Gynaecology in the Ghana College of Surgeons should look again at the practical training of Residents and come up with a policy that involves experienced Members of the College to train Residents. Ghana is losing a lot because of the current policy.


Dr. Kofi Effah is an Obstetrician Gynaecologist (a Member of the Ghana College of Surgeons) in Catholic Hospital, Battor in the North Tongu District of the Volta Region of Ghana.