Hospital Medicine in Coastal Ghana
As one of the most culturally significant areas in Africa, Cape Coast, located in the central region of Ghana, is home to a dark past. It was once known to be the largest slave-trading center in Western Africa. However, today Cape Coast is considered a very laidback fishing port that is home to scenic landscape, beautiful sandy beaches, historic landmarks, crumbling colonial buildings, and coastal forts and castles. The vibrant energy that is among its people and culture allows Cape Coast to be one of the most fascinating places to be in.
Immerse yourself in this beautiful city and learn about its approach in providing necessary healthcare services to its people. Gain a global understanding of the overall Ghanaian healthcare system and delivery services from conception to adulthood; the financial and structural healthcare challenges the medical professionals face, and various socioeconomic factors. Address public health topics such as sex education, teen pregnancy, adoption, family planning, and endemic tropical diseases like Malaria, and understand how some of these issues are seen culturally in this day and age.
Cape Coast is home to the Cape Coast Teaching Hospital, the main healthcare provider for many of the coastal communities within the region, and the newest teaching hospital in Ghana. Participants will have the opportunity to rotate in different departments of the hospital and engage with medical students, medical professionals, and various specialists as well as explore community health centers affiliated with the hospital. Additionally, participants may have the opportunity to participate in scheduled public health visits to local schools.
Clinical Rotations & Public Health Placements
The Cape Coast Teaching Hospital- CFHI’s partner, The Cape Coast Teaching Hospital is a tertiary hospital located in the central region of Ghana. Established in early 1939, this metropolitan hospital served as the regional hospital before its transformation as currently being the teaching hospital for the training of doctors and other professional medical staff. Its vision is to be “A World Class Leader in Tertiary Health Care, Medical Education and Research.”
Currently it is a public hospital with about 400 beds and serves patients from all socioeconomic backgrounds. As the main referral hospital in the central region, The Cape Coast Teaching Hospital has various departments, which include Internal Medicine & Therapeutics, Pediatrics & Child Health, Public Health and Community Medicine, Surgery, Obstetrics and Gynecology & Fetal Medicine, Physiotherapy and ENT. It considered to have state-of-the-art facilities and incorporates a four bed Intensive Care Unit and six renal dialysis tables in the Dialysis Unit. Most patients from the hospital use the National Health Insurance system to pay for the basic services provided, while others who do not have this insurance, pay for the services with other means.
Statistics presented in the hospital’s 2014 Annual Performance Review, demonstrated that out of the 9,459 inpatient hospitalizations, 3,245 (roughly 34%) were males and 6,216 (roughly 66%) were females, with the majority of them ranging from 20-34 years old. Despite consistent management of various diseases and medical conditions, Malaria, remained the major cause of outpatient visits.
Diverse medical and clinical involvement in the tertiary healthcare- Engage with and learn from medical professionals, including students, house officers, nurses, specialists, and consultants in various departments of the hospital. Have the opportunity to visit clinics, outpatient departments, and areas such as the Emergency services within the hospital as well. Attend the clinical and mortality meetings; witness how cases are managed in the ward, general ward rounds, clinical case discussions, and various other activities in the different departments. Experience healthcare at the tertiary level and understand how the dynamic Ghanaian health system works overall.
Involvement in lower levels of healthcare at the coast- Facilitated by both the pediatric and public health departments in the hospital, participants will have the opportunity to visit, observe, and understand other levels of healthcare. These levels will range from the CHPS compounds in remote and indigenous areas and the fishing communities, to child welfare clinics, in out stations, health education, and awareness outreach programs that are carried out in the coastal areas. Participants will understand the integration of systems and services along this continuum of care as well as the various challenges faced by the system in improving health outcomes. Participants may also visit alternative and traditional health care services such as spiritual houses and local herbalists in the region, to gain a better perspective on the role culture plays in healthcare.
Social issues and public health in the region, visit to social centers and other stakeholders in health- Participants will have the opportunity to focus, learn, and discuss numerous endemic tropical diseases such as Malaria as well as cover public health related issues such as female education and empowerment, teenage pregnancy, sex education, family planning, adoption processes, rights of a child, and child labor in Ghana. Additionally, participants will have the chance to visit social centers along the coast and local NGOs involved in public health issues in the region.
With secluded beaches lined with beautiful fishing boats, historic sites, and friendly locals, the region of Cape Coast is one of the most fascinating places to be in Ghana. Known as a tranquil fishing port, the city of Cape Coast serves as the capital of both the Cape Coast Metropolitan District and Central Region of south Ghana. Additionally, the city is about a 3-hour drive away from Accra, Ghana’s capital. Along with its rich cultural history, Cape Coast is home to serene and picturesque hills, valleys, and streams. The region boasts of tropical climate throughout the year with cooler months between June and August.
Things to Do
Considered U.S. First Lady, Michelle Obama’s ancestral home, Cape Coast is one of the major tourist destinations in West Africa. The historical importance behind this city is reflected through its many slave trade castles and forts along the coast with guided tours informing the stories, experiences, and history of the slaves. Significant sites include the World Heritage Site- Cape Coast Castle and Elmina Castle; both serving as thought-provoking memorials. Kakum National Park is considered one of the main attractions for tourists who visit the city. Experience the forest’s wildlife consisting of atleast 40 species of mammals including elephants and primates, 200 species of birds, and over 400 species of butterflies. The park contains an exciting and adventurous Canopy Walk tourists can walk on, which is suspended 30-40 meters high amongst the trees with 7 different connected bridges all throughout the forest. Additionally, enjoy the tropical beaches and resorts along the coast, with other attractions including the Cape Coast Centre for National Culture, Monkey Forest Resort, and many more. Visitors can also learn about medicinal trees and shrubs found in the forest.
Accommodations & Homestays
Participants will be accommodated in apartments arranged by the Cape Coast Teaching Hospital Administration. Accommodations will include either a single or shared room depending on the particular apartment and the numbers in attendance in a particular month. These are similar apartments used by junior doctors in the hospitals and are equipped with basic amenities.
Eligibility: Who Can Apply?
This program is open to all pre-medical, pre-public health, medical students, residents, interns, nurses, and any other individuals interested in the field of medicine, general and allied healthcare, and public health. Non-students are also eligible. To confirm you are eligible, please read CFHI's general eligibility requirements.
Language Required: English
Ghana is a multicultural and diverse country with over 70 seventy tribal groups and just as many distinct languages spoken. However, Ghana's unifying national official language is English and it is used in government, business and universally for educational instruction. It is spoken and understood fluently by most of the population.
All participants should arrive at the Kotoka International Accra airport on the program start date. Particpants will be picked up by one of the CFHI Local Coordinators and will stay on the day of arrival at the “CFHI Ghana House” located in Mamprobi, Accra. Transportation will be offered to Cape Coast after an on-site orientation in Accra.
All US citizens should apply for a Ghanaian tourist visa in advance. More information will be provided by CFHI after acceptance into the program.
- Guidance from CFHI staff in San Francisco before departure
- Program-specific materials with information on making travel arrangements, visa requirements, recommended immunizations, etc.
- CFHI Local Team: providing instruction, logistical support, and 24/7 emergency response
- Airport pick-up upon arrival and transportation to local lodging with local CFHI representative and one night of lodging in Accra.
- Roundtrip transportation Accra- Cape Coast
- Welcome orientation covering safety, transportation, and other logistics in Cape Coast
- Accommodation and two meals a day in Cape Coast
- Local transportation to and from clinical sites other scheduled program activities in Cape Coast
- Local cell phone with start off credits and internet plan- students must refill at own cost
- Placement and coordination of clinical/public health activities in Cape Coast
- Weekly meetings and lectures on local healthcare system and socio-economic determinants of health
- International emergency medical and evacuation insurance
- Access to CFHI alumni-only LinkedIn group featuring news and career opportunities related to Global Health
- CFHI alumni newsletter highlighting events, resources, and ways to stay involved
Uniquely CFHI, 50% or more of student program fees go directly to the communities they will be visiting, benefiting the local economy at large and specifically underserved health systems. Read more.
Meet the Local Team
Dr. Charles Chineme Nwobu- CFHI Ghana Medical Director- Dr. Charles, one of CFHI’s youngest Medical Directors, is a strong global health advocate with extensive experience in the field. As a medical student, he became involved with the global health and human rights organization called International Federation of Medical Students Association (IFMSA) for about five years where he grew to become one of their global health youth leaders. He had the honor of being elected as the IFMSA Regional Coordinator for Africa for two consecutive years and later on held his last officially elected position as the IFMSA Alumni Relations Support Division Director. He has experience with various public and global health projects and he has taken part in various international meetings, including some UN global health related meetings. Currently, he is a member of the Junior Doctors Network of the World Medical Association.
Along with serving as CFHI’s Medical and Program Director for Ghana, he currently works as a physician-General Practitioner, in both the private and public sector. He holds both a BSc (MedSci) and a medical degree (MBChB) from the University of Ghana. Apart from his passion for global health, he enjoys working out, music, dancing, swimming, traveling, reading good literature, theatre and attending social events.
CFHI Local Coordinators
Local Coordinators will assist in organizing housing, airport pick-up, orientation, weekly meetings and other logistics for all participants..
Nora Oye Abbew hails from the Akuapem people, from a town called Tutu, in the Eastern region of Ghana. Nora currently works at program’s main rotation site, the Pediatric Hospital in Accra, as a registered general nurse. She has a diploma in General Nursing from a prestigious teaching facility in Accra. Her hobbies include exercising, researching, reading, listening to music, and traveling.
What Alumni Say
"...On January 2, 2016 I embarked on a journey that changed my life. From my arrival in Accra to seeing Dr. Charles holding a sign reading “Robin Baker”, I knew I made the right decision. My one month in Ghana was absolutely phenomenal. I connected instantly with the rehab staff, the nurses within the wards, the market women within the waiting areas, patients and their families and even CEO of the hospital. There was an instant exchange of knowledge, resources and culture throughout my experience. The patients, staff and CHFI coordinators all became family - I felt at home. It was that moment that I realized that my calling was to create a platform for allied health clinicians and students (i.e.: occupational therapist, physical therapist and speech language pathologist etc) to participate in global rehabilitation service projects.
I would like to personally thank, Dr. Charles Nwobu for playing such an imperative role in creating a safe, cultivating and enriching experience. Dr. Charles is doing a fabulous job of coordinating and organizing trainee specific projects in Cape Coast and Accra. It was an absolute pleasure working with him and the local staff. Dr. Charles knowledge and insight of the dynamic health care system in Ghana was truly meaningful in understanding the delivery of care. I would like to thank all the members involved in “Letting Ghana Change me” – I am forever grateful..."
-- Robin Baker (MS, OTR/L)
"...I spent the day in the Emergency Department, where I tested my diagnosis and management after doing physical examinations on the patients with the house officer. It was a good experience to be able to discuss patients we saw and what we think they may have, as well as what we will do next for diagnosis and management..." read more on Julia's fascinating blog (week 3).
-- Julia Tanguay (4th year medical student at Rocky Vista University College of Osteopathic Medicine)