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Diasporia News of Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Source: Leticia Otchere-Darko

GPSF press release 2015 annual conference

Proceedings of the 13th Annual Conference of the Ghana Physicians and Surgeons Foundation of North America (GPSF) organized for Ghanaian Health Care Professionals.

The 13th annual GPSF conference organized for Ghanaian Healthcare professionals took place at the Renaissance Concourse Atlanta Hotel from April 17th to 19th, 2015, with the theme “Health Innovation Solutions for Ghana: A Country Experiencing Economic Growth and Demographic Transition.” Judged the most successful conference organized by the Foundation so far and it drew a record attendance of over 130 participants from the US, Canada and Ghana. The conference was anchored by academic sessions that offered up to 10.0 hours of category 1 Continuing Medical Education (CME) credits and covered a wide array of topics on the theme. It also attracted renowned/distinguished speakers from academia, healthcare practitioners, as well as health services managers, entrepreneurs and political leaders. There was time for participants to “meet and greet,” and to network.

In his address, the out-going President of the Foundation, Dr. Nathaniel O. Lawson, reiterated the Foundation’s core mission of supporting postgraduate medical education and working towards improved healthcare delivery in Ghana. He applauded the vision and dedication of the founding members of the Foundation. He singled out the extraordinary contribution of Dr. Oheneba Boachie-Adjei, the Foundation’s founding president, and also founder of the Foundation for Orthopedic and Complex Spine (FOCOS) who recently relocated to Ghana to dedicate himself to fulltime service to Ghana and the rest of Africa through the FOCOS Hospital in Ghana. Furthermore, Dr. Lawson highlighted the achievements of the Foundation during the past year, for example:

1. The Foundation took a lead role in laying down the framework for the Diaspora Medical Corps, an initiative supported by His Excellency John Mahama, President of the Republic of Ghana. The initiative was crafted to create a streamlined and efficient pathway for physicians in the Diaspora to provide their expertise and services to Ghana. The Diaspora Medical Corps concept provides a vehicle for “reverse-brain-drain” that would allow Ghanaians to benefit from the expertise of Ghanaian physicians in the Diaspora.

2. The Foundation continues to support, co-organize and actively participate in the Annual Continuing Medical Education Conference for physicians in Ghana, dubbed Medical Knowledge Fiesta. The organization of last year’s Fiesta posed a peculiar challenge, as it coincided with the height of the Ebola virus disease outbreak and hysteria. Notwithstanding, the Foundation persevered and not only sponsored an Infection Control workshops during the conference but also provided 500 units of full Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for live demonstrations and to train attendees in the appropriate use of the PPE’s.
3. The Foundation also paid the subscription renewal of the UpToDate online searchable medical reference text as a service to the Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Dr. Lawson remarked that there remain several on-going challenges that the Foundation continues to actively pursue solutions for. These include seeking redress from the Ministry of Health and the Ghana Medical and Dental Council to reduce the cost of the temporary medical license that allows outside physicians (both from the Diaspora and non-Ghanaians) seeking to provide medical care to Ghanaians. He appealed to the government to recognize Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.’s) as bona fide physicians and allow their licensure to practice in Ghana.

The Keynote Speaker for the conference was Ghana’s Ambassador to the United States of America, His Excellency Lt. Gen. (Rtd.) Joseph H. Smith, who addressed the Saturday morning session on “The Role and Contribution of Ghanaian Healthcare Professionals in the Diaspora to Healthcare Delivery in Ghana.” While pointing out some strides, he also acknowledged the shortfalls that continue to beset national healthcare delivery and lamented the gap between the privileged and under-privileged. He recognized and commended the Foundation for its mission and contribution to improving healthcare in the Motherland and remarked that these resonate well with the government’s policy of Diaspora engagement for national development. With this, he apprised the audience of the government’s “Better Ghana Agenda” as well as creation of the Diaspora Affairs Bureau by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to harness the contributions of groups like the GPSF. His Excellency, the Ambassador, noted that all Ghana’s foreign missions have been directed to establish a Diaspora Affairs Desk to create a database of Ghanaians abroad, and he invited Foundation members to register with the one established at the Embassy in Washington, DC. Furthermore, he implored healthcare professionals in the US and the Americas to establish partnerships with the home front with a view of working collectively to help narrow the gaps in healthcare delivery.

All the speakers delivered very informative and thought-provoking presentations. Friday April 17th featured an afternoon session with the following presentations on “The State of Skin Health in Africa and the African Diaspora” by Eunice Cofie, BSc.; “Research Institute of Health: A Model to Translate Personalized Molecular Medicine to Ghanaian and African Population” by Dr. Sofia Merajver; “Establishing a Private Non-Profit Women’s Hospital in Accra; Jumping Hurdles” by Dr. Amelia Laing; “Mentoring Young Physicians” by Dr. Francisca Abanyie; and “e-Learning for Ghana: Breast and Gynecologic Oncology Tumor Board,” by Prof. Timothy Johnson.

A full-day conference was held on Saturday, April 18th and the presentations, targeted towards the main conference theme featured “Subspecialty Training and Care for Ghana: the Family Planning and Gynecologic Oncology Experience” by Prof. Timothy Johnson; “Innovative Models for Healthcare Financing with Emphasis on Public-Private Partnership” by Dr. Godfrey Gaisie; “State of Healthcare Delivery in Ghana “ by Dr. Ken Sagoe on behalf of Hon Dr. Victor Asare Bampoe, Deputy Minister of Health who could not be present; “Health Solutions and Specialist Training in Ghana Update: Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons” by Prof. David Ofori-Adjei and Prof. Jacob Plange-Rhule; “Child Abuse in Ghana – An Emerging Threat? The Korle-Bu Experience” by Dr. Ebenezer Badoe; “Progressive Universalism – the Case of Ghana’s Universal Health Coverage” by Dr. Adu-Krow; “The Obesity Pandemic – Strategies to Mitigate its Impact on the Ghanaian Individual and the Economy” by Dr. Delali Hevi; “Is Electronic Medical Record the New Weapon for Prevention, Detection and Elimination of Infectious Disease: A Case Study in Ghana” by Prof. Elijah Paintsil; “Undiagnosed ADHD Among Unionized Drivers in Ghana: Policy and Public Safety Implications” by Prof. Thaddeus Ulzen; “Public-Private Partnership for a Medical Tourism Hospital in Accra: Anatomy of the Deal” by Dr. Kwasi Debra; “Faculty Bank & Credentialing Process: Everything You Need to Know” by Prof. James Aikins; “The University of Ghana Teaching Hospital Project: Opportunities for Collaboration” by Prof. Aaron Lante Lawson; and “New Innovations at Teaching Hospitals in Ghana: The Korle-Bu Experience” by Dr. Gilbert Buckle. The session concluded with a Symposium on “Challenges and Innovative Solutions: Ghana’s Healthcare Dilemma” by a panel that included Dr.’s Buckle, Debra, Sagoe, Lawson and Plange-Rhule.

The meeting was capped off with a Fundraising Gala Dinner Dance on Saturday night chaired by His Excellency, the Ambassador. This function raised over $12,000 and most of the amount pledged was to support unrestricted travel fellowships that the GPSF will award to meritorious medical residents and fellows in Ghana’s Post-Graduate Medical Education program to attend short-term attachment rotations at selected US hospitals. These travel fellowships will bear the names of the donors and the GPSF is open to financial support from all individuals and organizations who support its goals; Ghanaians and non-Ghanaians alike.