It was a pleasure to visit Ghana for one week in August 2017 for the Anne G. Osborn ASNR International Outreach Professor Program.
As with Dr. Parmar in 2016, my visiting institution was the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra, Ghana. The hospital consists of a vast collection of buildings with a total of approximately 2,000 beds. It is the largest hospital in the country, and offers an array of specialties from primary care to tertiary services such as a cardiothoracic surgery and radiation therapy, some of which are the only of their kind in West Africa. The hospital is funded primarily by the Ghana federal government through the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), and patients are usually required to pay a small fee for services. The radiology department, headed by the energetic and charismatic Dr. Yaw Mensah, is equipped with a 1.5 Tesla MRI and a 64-slice MDCT, in addition to ultrasound and radiography/fluoroscopic devices. Space has been allocated for additional CT and MRI scanners, hopefully to be installed in the near future.
Dr. Mensah and his team welcomed me with kindness and quickly made me feel at home. The disappointing news upon my arrival was that the CT and MRI scanners were temporarily not functioning. This of course prevented the optimal interaction with residents and faculty including reading real-time cases at the workstation and discussing imaging protocols with the technologists. However, our plan to overcome this difficulty seemed to have worked well: extended time for lectures and discussion of cases, as well as tutorials in normal anatomy and search patterns according to clinical indications. During the entire week, we had one formal lecture followed by case discussion. The lectures focused on pediatric neuroradiology, as we had planned before the visit. The presentation topics were 1. Pediatric Brain Tumors, 2. Chiari Malformation and Differential Diagnoses, 3. Congenital Malformations, 4. Imaging Approach to the Macrocephalic Child, and 5. Pediatric Spine. The case discussions with the residents also included a broad spectrum of adult neuroradiology pathology. I commend the residents for their enthusiasm, punctuality, curiosity and diagnostic skills.
The extra time also afforded me the opportunity to interact with allied departments, particularly Neurosurgery. Seeing pediatric patients and their scans at the clinic was an unforgettable experience – most CNS neoplasms were on average much larger than what I see at the United States, presumably due to a longer time between initial presentation and medical care.
During the visit, we shared educational material and discussed ideas for introducing radiology subspecialization to Ghana. Our collaboration will also continue through guidance on academic projects and advice on career pathways.
Visiting Accra, Ghana for this program was an one of the highlights of my career. I am grateful to the ASNR and Dr. Kucharczyk for organizing the program, and to Dr. Osborn for supporting it. My gratitude also goes, most of all, to my gracious Ghanaian hosts.
Bruno P. Soares, MD
Russell H. Morgan Department of Radiology and Radiological Science
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine