In-Country Training by the Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons: An Initiative that has Aided Surgeon Retention and Distribution in Ghana

World J Surg. 2019 Mar;43(3):723-735. doi: 10.1007/s00268-018-4840-2.


Background: Prior to 2003, production of new surgeons in Ghana was limited. In 2003, the Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons (GCPS) initiated the first wholly in-country training and credentialing of surgeons. The purpose of this study was to assess the impact of in-country training of surgeons in Ghana.

Methods: We interviewed 117 (80%) of the 146 surgeons trained through the GCPS from inception through 2016. We gathered data on type of training, practice location, clinical workload, and administrative and teaching roles. Operations were categorized into those deemed essential (most cost-effective, highest population impact) by the World Bank's Disease Control Priorities project versus other.

Results: In-country retention was 87-97%. A little more than half (56%) were working in the two largest cities and 44% were working in higher need areas. Twenty-two (19%) were the first surgeon to have worked at their current hospital. The surgeons performed a mean of 13 operations per week (seven electives, six emergencies). 35% of elective and 77% of emergency operations were in the essential category. Most (79%) surgeons were engaged in training/teaching; 46% were engaged in research; and 33% held an administrative office.

Conclusions: In-country surgical training has led to high retention and wide geographic distribution, including high need areas. The in-country trained surgeons are playing key roles in clinical practice, training, and administration. These data provide support for investments in similar efforts in other low- and middle-income countries.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Female
  • Ghana
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Surgeons / education*
  • Surgeons / statistics & numerical data