The 2018 American College of Sports Medicine’s (ACSM) International Team Physician Course (ITPC) event was held in Accra, Ghana from 26-29 November 2018. This event was historic as it was the first time it was held in Ghana and the sub-Saharan West African region. The ACSM ITPC event coincided and enhanced the beginning of the postgraduate training program for Sports, Exercise and Rehabilitation in Ghana, the first of its kind in its format in Ghana and in the sub-Saharan West African Region.
The ACSM ITPC faculty members who visited the country included Dr Suzanne Hecht, Dr Sharon Hame, Dr David Olson and Dr John Hatzenbuehler. Dr Suzanne Hecht served as the chair of the ACSM ITPC faculty for the program in Accra, Ghana. Dr Anthony Annan, the ACSM ITPC course organiser for the event and a Sports and Exercise Medicine and Family Medicine Physician based in the UK and Professor Jacob Plange-Rhule, Rector of the Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons (GCPS) in Accra, Ghana served as the co-hosts for the ACSM ITPC program in Accra. Dr. Deborah Cubagee, President of the Ghana Olympic Committee and international federation of sports medicine (FIMS) Ghana representative, helped with the initial liaising with the ACSM with a support letter for the event.
The local organising committee (LOC) members who helped run the course under the auspices of the Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons were Dr Martin Engmann (Chair), Prof Jacob Plange-Rhule, Dr Akwesi Adomakoh, Dr Prince Pambo, Dr Akye Essuman, Dr Jonathan Quartey and Dr Abena Tannor (Ghana’s first postgraduate student in sports, exercise and rehabilitation medicine). The faculty of family medicine of the GCPS members who also helped organise the course included Dr Kwesi Hanson (Chair of faculty of family medicine), Dr Akye Essuman and Dr Edwina Opare-Addo.
The event was busy and packed with lots of lectures and interactive teaching. The theme for the course itself was Exercise is Medicine (EIM) with parallel lectures on team administration, musculoskeletal and orthopaedic medicine, medical issues in athletes and as well as lectures on the female, senior and paediatric athlete. The ACSM/ITPC also included a workshop for musculoskeletal examinations.
Each ACSM ITPC faculty member gave an average of 9-10 lectures which was stellar and well received by the attendees. Local sports physicians in Ghana who were also LOC members Dr Martin Engmann (Chair), Dr Akwesi Adomakoh, Dr Prince Pambo, Dr Jonathan Quartey and Dr Abena Tannor gave sports specific lectures from Ghana. In between the sessions Mrs Philomena Annan (ACSM member), a senior physiotherapist in the UK, took all the attendees through 3-5 min of exercises in between sessions as per the EIM theme. The course and lectures were very interactive, enjoyable and interesting.
The event itself attracted on the average maximum of 50-60 attendees every day. The attendees came from across Ghana and sub-saharan countries including Nigeria. The attendees included sports physicians, physiotherapists, family and general physicians, post graduate medical students, sports scientists, physical educationists etc. The event was covered by the Ghana news agency and the ACSM/ITPC faculty were also interviewed by the Ghana Television sports plus (GTV Sports Plus) channel producer, where all the ACSM faculty members each gave a speech on the importance of exercise is medicine and its role in the management of chronic medical illnesses etc. This helped raise awareness of EIM in Ghana.
At the closing ceremony, Prof Plange-Rhule the rector of GCPS gave a motivational speech heralding the accreditation of the first postgraduate student in Sports, Exercise and Rehabilitation Medicine (SERM) for the first time in Ghana. He thanked Dr Anthony Annan and the faculty of family medicine for helping to create this SERM program for the first time in Ghana. He also thanked the ACSM ITPC faculty for their hard work and giving such excellent lectures over the three days. Dr Kwesi Hanson, the chair of the faculty of family medicine, thanked the ACSM ITPC faculty for their hard work and facilitating the work of the new SERM program through their lectures. Dr Suzanne Hecht, the ACSM faculty chair, on behalf of the ACSM faculty members thanked all the participants for attending this historic event which has helped raise the awareness of sports medicine and EIM in Ghana and hoped that the collaboration between ACSM and Ghana will continue well into the future. All the ACSM faculty members were presented with awards for their hard work and stellar lectures which went down well with all participants. Dr Hecht, Dr Annan and Prof Plange-Rhule signed and presented CME certificates to the participants.
The sight-seeing was limited due to time constraints-but the ACSM faculty members toured important historic sites including the Dr Kwame Nkrumah (First Ghanaian President-Pan African Leader) Memorial Burial Park; the unknown Ghanaian soldier statue (World wars 1 and 2) at the Independence square, Accra; Houses of Parliament, Accra; Supreme High Court house building and memorial statues for the three high court judges (Martyrs of the rule of Law) in Accra; the Accra Arts Council; Ghana’s first premier university-The University of Ghana Legon, Accra; and the premises of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) Accra . The ACSM faculty also visited and toured the historic first ancient slave trade castle in Africa, Elmina castle, recognised by UNESCO as a world heritage site, also the site for a major filming location for Werner Herzog's 1987 drama film Cobra Verde. The ACSM faculty also enjoyed an evening of JAZZ music at Ghana’s premier +233 Jazz club in Accra.
The ACSM faculty members made new friends and interacted well with the participants and enjoyed the warm and friendly nature of the local people. The feedback from the participants at the ACSM/ITPC event was excellent and the ACSM/ITPC members hard work and great lectures was well appreciated.
The ACSM faculty’s interaction and collaboration with the GCPS has also helped facilitate the first sports, exercise and rehabilitation medicine program in Ghana. This program will provide enormous scientific research and provide educational and practical applications of sports medicine in Ghana and world-wide. This will benefit the health and medical care for Ghana’s exercising populations and introduce Ghana as a country with a sports and exercise medicine training program to the West African sub-Saharan region and the world.
Compiled by Dr AE Annan
7 February 2019