History of The University of Ghana Medical School

History of The University of Ghana Medical School

The Establishment of the Medical School

The idea to establish a Medical School in Ghana was conceived in 1919 when the Korle-Bu Hospital was built by the then Governor of the Gold Coast, Sir Frederick Gordon Guggisberg.

It was however shelved when the Governor left office.  The idea was revived in 1951 when, at a joint request by Government and the University College of the Gold Coast, a delegation visited from the University of London to draw up a scheme and to specify staffing and facilities needed for a full-scale Medical School.  A year later, a Commission appointed by the Government to enquire into the health needs of the Gold Coast recommended an indefinite postponement of the establishment of the Medical School, a recommendation that was accepted by the Government in 1952.  In 1955 both the University College of the Gold Coast, and the Kumasi College of Technology were invited by Government to review the possibilities of establishing a Medical School.  The University College put forward a scheme for starting medical teaching on a minimal scale to be gradually built upon to the level envisaged by the 1951 London University delegation.   In line with this, the University College Council set up a committee in 1956 headed by Dr. D. M. Balme, principal of the College, to advice on alternative ways for establishing the Medical School.  This Committee recommended an annual intake of 20-25 students, and four pre-clinical departments at Legon, and the conversion of Korle-Bu hospital into a Teaching Hospital, with its own Management Board.

By 1960, no decision for implementation had been taken as it was then felt that Korle-Bu was not adequate for clinical training, and it would be more desirable for a new teaching hospital to be built at Legon.  The financial implications of this project compelled Government to seek assistance from the United States Government following which the US President sent Dr. Paul Connerlly to head a team to evaluate all previous efforts made.  This team recommended, among other things, the establishment of a National Medical and Health Training Centre, with the Medical School as the first constituent.  Following acceptance of the recommendations by the Government, a Medical School consultant team, under the USAID in 1962 recommended further that the National Medical and Health Training Centre should be established with the following components when fully developed.

  1. A Medical School
  2. A School of Nursing
  3. A Dental School
  4. A School of Medical Technology
  5. A Post Graduate School
  6. A Research Facilities Centre

An additional recommendation was that the Medical School should be financially autonomous with its own Council and be affiliated to the University of Ghana which will then award degrees of the University.

For a smooth implementation of an American system in the predominantly British environment, it was proposed that students from Sixth Form should undergo a two year premedical training in a number of subjects prior to the commencement of their full medical training.  Thus in October 1962, the first batch of 51 premedical students was admitted into the University of Ghana.  Barely one year after its commencement, however, the project was suddenly terminated because the American Dean had indicated that he could not get teachers for the Basic Sciences.  With the fate of the 51 students hanging in the balance, the then president of Ghana, Osagyefo Dr.Kwame Nkrumah, took a bold decision in February 1964 to establish a Medical School relying predominantly on local financial and manpower resources.  The feasibility of establishing a Medical School in Ghana was supported by the findings of a delegation consisting of Prof. A. A. Kwapong, Dr. C. O. Easmon and Dr. E. A. Badoe to the newly opened University of Lagos and the University of Ibadan Medical Schools.

On hindsight, the enforced exercise in self reliant development proved to be invaluable in the long term.


Growth and Development of the School

In October 1964 a group of 41 students started the Preclinical Training, with a small group of Ghanaian doctors as their lecturers. The curriculum was mainly Gross Anatomy and Histology, taught by Mr. J. K. M. Quartey, and assisted by Dr. F. N. L. Engmann and a number of surgeons and pathologists as part time lecturers.  From this modest beginning, other departments, namely physiology, started by Dr. H. H. Philips, and Biochemistry, started by Dr. B. Y. A. Andoh, were later added to constitute the Basic Sciences. Teaching started in paraclinical Departments in April, 1966 and in Clinical Departments in April, 1967.  The first batch of students graduated in June 1969.


Paraclinical Departments and Heads of Department consisted of the following:

Department of Pharmacology headed by Prof. R. Lewis and assisted by Dr. J. Blukoo Allotey

Department of Pathology headed by Prof. F. W. N. Laing

Department of Microbiology, headed by Dr. S. N. Afoakwa

Department of Surgery, headed by Prof. Charles Easmon

Department of Medicine, Headed by Prof. S. R. A. Dodu

Department of Paediatrics, headed by Dr. Yaw Asirifi

Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, headed by Prof. K. K. Bentsi-Enchill

Department of Community Health, headed by Dr. F. T. Sai

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