In January 2009, Dr. Peter Taillac and I were asked to accompany a group, from various departments at the University of Utah, to western Africa. The intent of this trip was for Dr. Taillac and me to establish a relationship with a hospital in Ghana that was interested in developing emergency medicine as a specialty as well as a residency program.
Ghana is a small West African country that sits above the Gulf of Guinea. Ghana was originally established as a British colony resulting in large sections of the population speaking English. In fact, English is Ghana's official language. Ghana has been politically stable for over fifteen years and is overall a very safe country in which to travel.
Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) is located in the second largest city in Ghana, Kumasi. Kumasi is home to roughly 1.5 million Ghanaians as of the 2000 census. KATH is the second largest hospital in Ghana having approximately 1,000 inpatient beds. It has several residency programs including internal medicine, surgery, and OBGYN.
KATH has a long standing relationship with the University of Utah. Dr. Jeff Peters, attending in the Department of Anesthesiology, has been involved with KATH for approximately ten years. Dr. Devon Hale, attending in Infectious Disease, has been involved at KATH for approximately six years. Both of these individuals have taken residents with them through their respective departments and have had great educational experiences. It was Dr. Hale that invited us to Ghana. Dr. Hale had been asked by the administration at KATH if the University of Utah would be interested in helping develop emergency medicine there. Dr. Hale was kind enough to ask if we would be interested in going to Ghana and meeting with the people at KATH to see if another relationship between our institutions would be possible.
While at KATH, Dr. Taillac and I established relationships with Dr. Anthony Nsiah-Asare, Chief Executive of KATH, and Dr. Patrick Karikari, Medical Director of KATH. Both of these individuals are dedicated to developing emergency medicine as a specialty in Ghana as well as starting a residency in emergency medicine at KATH.
Dr. Taillac and I were asked to help begin the task of transitioning to an emergency medicine model. We taught triage to the nurses who will be involved with KATH's transition to the EM model. This was a very rewarding experience as the nurses and resident physicians were very eager to learn and excited about a transition to a new system.
Overall, I felt that this was a great experience and that we can really help KATH develop emergency medicine as a specialty. I believe opportunities exist for all levels of training to lend their expertise in helping with KATH's mission. I also feel that Ghana is a safe country that is easy to negotiate given that a large number of people speak English. I am planning on returning in September of this year and likely again sometime in the Spring of 2010. Hopefully, at that point I will be helping with the development of an Emergency Medicine Residency program. -By Carl Seger, MD