BRIEF HISTORY OF THE GHANA MEDICAL ASSOCIATION
The Ghana Medical Association was the first professional association to be formed in jubilant post independent Ghana. The association was inaugurated by the Osagefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah himself at the Arden Hall of the Ambassador Hotel in Accra on the4thof January, 1958. On that day, the two existing groups of Medical Doctors in the country namely the Gold Coast Medical Practitioners Amalgamation and the Ghana Branch of the British Medical Association merged to form one strong and unitedGhana Medical Association (GMA).
The GMA, at the time was intended to lead and seek the welfare of its members and provide expert advice and consultancy on quality healthcare delivery of the country, an aim which has remained primary on the agenda of the Ghana Medical Association through the years. Dr Kwame Nkrumah declared at the launch: “I want the GMA to be strong so that the government and the profession can talk to each other and to prosper in the years ahead.” Present at the launch were Mr. A.K. Gbedemah, then Finance Minister; Dr. Eustace Akwei then Chief Medical Officer; Prof. C.O. Easmon who was subsequently elected first President of the Association, Dr. J.A. Schandorf, the first Vice-President of the GMA and Prof. F.T. Sai, Secretary. Other members of the first Executive Council of the GMA included Dr. John Brooke David (Treasurer), Dr. R.H.O. Bannerman, Dr. M.A Barnor, Dr. D.B. George, Dr. Susan de Graft Johnson nee Ofori Atta, Dr Silas Dodu and Dr. E.M. Brown.
Since then, the GMA has been significantly influential in the health administration and healthcare delivery in the Republic of Ghana through several initiatives, innovations and interventions some of which are:
- Training of Medical Doctors – The establishment of the University of Ghana Medical School initiated by Dr Kwame Nkrumah with the first president of the GMA Prof C. O Easmon as its first dean has served to augment the sheer numbers of medical doctors in the country by making the training of many more Ghanaian medical doctors possible. This bold establishment has yielded very well as several other medical schools of similar high caliber have followed. Today, the country today boasts of at least seven medical schools some of which are privately owned by Ghanaian trained doctors.
- Postgraduate Medical Training – A significant contribution to the establishment and running of the Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons to train specialists in the various fields of healthcare delivery thereby helping to curb brain drain.
- Medical Research – The GMA houses the production of a medical journal, the Ghana Medical Journal (GMJ), which was first published in September 1962.
- Innumerable contributions to the Ghana Health Service, the National Health Insurance Scheme and many other national, regional and district health institutions in the country.
- For its members, GMA has established Codified Conditions of Service for those in public service, provided platforms for exhibition and promulgation of their work and developed a functional welfare package which is in operation for their benefit.
The GMA, in the immediate post-independence era, was very instrumental in the formulation of health policies and the provision of holistic medical care for Ghanaians and has remained relevant ever since.
A medical historian, Dr Stephen Addae, in his book, The History of Western Medicine in Ghana 1880-1960,described the health situation in Ghana in the year 1951 as a system which was: “curative oriented, favoured the south of the country, could handle about 20% of the population, whose organization was clearly outdated, and which had a grossly inadequate medical staff consisting mostly of European doctors and a small cadre of auxiliary medical staff.” The GMA is proud to say that in the course of its 60 years of existence this picture has changed considerably.
From as far back as 1933 when the first organized group of African doctors in Ghana was founded (the Gold Coast Medical Practitioners Union) by three Ghanaian doctors: F. V. Nanka-Bruce (President and Spokesperson), C. E. Reindorf and W.A.C Nanka Bruce with J.E. Hutton Mills as secretary, through the days of the Maude Commission (set up in 1952 to mainly expand the frontiers of medical practice in the country to include preventive and social medical care and medical research) doctors have actively participated interventions to improve of the well-being of Ghanaians.
In recent times, the GMA has made great strides at connecting with the public through health advocacy and interactive programs such as the GMA Public lectures, now in its 18thyear, several radio and television programs and the publication of the Focus magazine a medical/social magazine with a national outlook.
The Ghana Medical Association, with acurrent general membership of over 3000, is affiliated to the World Medical Association, and the commonwealth Medical Association.