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Opinions of Monday, 26 April 2010

Columnist: Aidoo, Ato

Ghanaian Doctors Dance Into The Future

By Ato Aidoo

From a marginal standpoint, a movement of healthcare professionals from one country to another constitutes a brain drain, but Ghanaian physicians who are members of the Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons Foundation of North America disagree.

Dr. George Ofori-Amanfo, a cardiac intensivist is the President of the Foundation. He insists, “This is brain circulation, and it manifests in our achievements so far“.

Typically, a meeting of African minds in the Diaspora has a shorter life span, but the same cannot be true with this group of Ghanaian physicians. Their commitment is par excellence. As they express joy in helping Ghana, they also say: “we are helping Africa solve of some of its healthcare and developmental deficiencies”.

Ofori-Amanfo, who is also an assistant professor of pediatrics, University of Pennsylvania, explains - “this Foundation is a permanent arrangement that seeks to promote continuous medical education which is a pre-requisite for physician update during years of practicing medicine, we have been around since 2001, we have come together to work as a unit, and we shall remain so”.

On April 16-18, 2010, the 8th African Healthcare summit was held in Atlanta, United States, as the Foundation reaffirms its commitment to providing some answers as regards urological injuries related to gynecological surgery, impact of poverty on common endocrine disorders, poverty, and infectious diseases. Dr. Elijah Painstil of Yale University School of Medicine, highlighted the long-standing interactions between poverty and infections, and provided solutions from the Diaspora.

In an exciting presentation, Dr. Lewis Roberts, a Ghanaian consultant on Gastroenterology and Herpetology, Mayo Clinic Rochester, offered insights into paradoxes of poverty and health in liver diseases, recent advances in the diagnosis, treatment of hepatitis, and hepatocellular carcinoma.

Prof. Clifford Tagoe, out-going vice chancellor, University of Ghana, also illuminated credentials of the Foundation, and its commitment to maintaining strong relationship with the Ghana medical and academic community.

According to Ofori-Amanfo, Tagoe’s presence was inspirational, and that his words of encouragement re-energize the basis for extending quality healthcare education and assistance to Ghana.

Panelists also made submissions on ways to improve mental health, accessing care for psychiatric disorders, integrated public health approaches to controlling and eliminating malaria, not only in Ghana, but in Africa.

In collaboration with the Foundation’s partners, physicians in Ghana would benefit through post-graduate medical education programs in such specialties as critical care medicine, and pediatric cardiology. This, Dr. Ofori-Amanfo believes, is proactive because “as the Ghanaian society gets more and more advanced and sophisticated with improvement in socio-economic status, health care advancement also becomes paramount, hence the Foundation’s commitment to this process of development- this is our way of changing the concept of brain drain which has not only hurt Ghana, but other developing countries, to this concept of brain circulation”.

The annual ritual by Ghana Physicians and Surgeons Foundation of North America ends with a dinner dance, as physicians and their spouses dance deep into the night, while thinking about ways to extend help to our homeland.

For this group of Ghanaian medical doctors, they move away from a busy schedule once in a year for the love of a country, but while dancing at the end of a laudable event, they also send a clear message to all and sundry - that we can all learn from this experience. They were emphatic, that it is imperative other Ghanaian and African physicians team up to share this mutual interest, and for the benefit of a population that continues to crave for quality healthcare education and delivery.

This means, the Foundation’s 400 registered members cannot do it alone, but through collective effort, unsaturated commitment, and recognizing that there are over 3,000 Ghanaian physicians in North America.

The real lessons are that while selfless physicians meet annually to brainstorm, share a meal, and dance, they admonish like-minds, that they also have to pay attention to this “silent effort” that contributes in a bigger way to solve part of Ghana‘s healthcare challenges, and extending benevolence to a continent unsettled by myriad of problems.

A “single broom cannot not sweep well”, this is why Ghanaian physicians in the Diaspora can identify themselves with this vibrant Foundation so that extending quality healthcare education and assistance to our beloved country would not remain a mirage, but a reality.

A stitch in time…………………………….

Author-Formerly of the Features Desk, Daily Graphic, Accra, Ghana

Source: Aidoo, Ato