Featured Doctor

LAWSON, Dr Henry

Ghana - WONCA Africa president

Photo: Henry representing Ghana at the 2013 WONCA World Council in Prague.

What do you currently do?

I am the Chairman for the Ghana Chapter of the Faculty of Family Medicine, West African College of Physicians.

I am also the President-elect of the Wonca Africa region (2013 – 2016 triennium) and the Chair of the Host Organising Committee of the next WONCA Africa Regional Conference which will be held in my city – Accra, Ghana - in February 2015. The Faculty is the only Ghanaian Member Organisation of WONCA.

I have been at the forefront of Family Medicine training in Ghana. At the postgraduate level, I am a trainer and examiner for both the West African College of Physicians and the Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons. The two colleges collaborate copiously to advance the cause of Family Medicine in Ghana.

My work at the training centre involves teaching ward rounds; supervision of seminars, tutorials and journals club meetings; mortality conferences; supervision of proposal writing and dissertations; and mentoring of residents. In addition we have recently begun surgical training in office procedures at the centre.

At the undergraduate level, I co-authored the first undergraduate curriculum in the country’s premier medical school. This curriculum is being implemented in stages and fully operational with the new collegiate system of the University of Ghana in August this year. I am also involved in local and international research projects with other Family Physicians across the globe – Belgium, South Africa etc. I am also an active member of the WONCA Working Party on Research.

What is the situation of Family Medicine in Ghana?

Family Medicine training began in Ghana as far back as 1998 however the growth has been slow. We have currently graduated six fellows (Family Physicians) and we have over forty residents in various levels of training. We use the term General Practitioner for doctors who have not had postgraduate training and Family Physicians for those who have had training. All together we need to train 500 new family physicians over the next five years. Currently there are three accredited training centres in Ghana.

Photo: a "train the trainer" workshop facilitated by Henry

What is the future in Ghana?

Our plan is to implement the new modular curriculum for training Family Physicians. This novel method will retain medical officers in district hospitals whilst training in contrast to the conventional method where medical officers have to move the training centre. This way, more family physicians can be trained whilst still providing the needed services at the district hospitals. We however need to raise the funding for this process. We are looking for partners to collaborate in our ‘special interest training programme’ for Family Physicians in areas such as women’s health, geriatric care and adolescent health.

We are also looking forward to more general practitioners coming to register with the new Society of Family Physicians of Ghana (SOFPOG) which seeks to unite academic and non-academic family doctors which will be registered under Wonca before the year ends. We need all of them on board to promote the training process since they can act as trainers and preceptors in the district and community hospitals. The Director General of the Ghana Health Service is giving us his utmost support in this endeavour.

We are also looking forward to supporting other African countries to introduce Family Medicine training. We have recently commenced talks with Cote D’Ivoire and Benin Republic (all French-speaking nations) with great promise!

 more about the WONCA Africa 2015 regional conference in Ghana