Case Study

Expanding the network of trained healthcare professionals: the first geriatric medicine fellowship program in Ghana

Healthcare Access

In 2016, Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons, in collaboration with the University of Michigan (UM), created the first geriatric training fellowship program in Ghana, an important first step to build the country’s geriatric-service capacity.

The focus: With a large and growing older population, Ghana—and West Africa more broadly—is grappling with providing specialized care for older adults, resulting from the lack of domestic programs in advanced geriatrics education.

How it works: Building on a rigorous evidence-based geriatric curriculum, the Ghanaian fellowship is a two-year program consisting of outpatient, inpatient, office and community experience; educational and research activities; and specialty clinics (eg, geriatric nephrology, palliative care). The program is longer than most fellowship programs in other countries (usually one year) to ensure fellows learn from practice. For example, fellows are assigned to care homes, where they gain real-life practice by conducting assessments of older patients’ health conditions and providing geriatric advice, benefiting both fellows and care homes.

Enabling environment: International collaboration and a supportive policy environment made the fellowship program possible. The Ghanaian fellowship lead, a senior faculty member, spent six months at UM gaining clinical training in geriatric care and helped develop the fellowship’s curriculum. Furthermore, Ghana’s policy environment also supported this program, including the 2010 National Ageing Policy, which emphasizes the need to increase capacity in geriatrics education, and policy dictating that government-sponsored graduates of the fellowship program will be bonded to the government for five years after training. Thus the program can operate with less fear of brain drain, a significant problem in low- and middle-income countries.

Impact: The program has created a pipeline of domestically trained geriatrics fellows in Ghana, although the first cohort of two fellows has yet to graduate (they are currently working on their dissertations). Regardless, this program can serve as a template for other institutions in the country and the region to expand their advanced geriatrics education.

Sources Include

Sources include:

Essuman A, Gold KJ, Vitale C, et al. Establishing the first geriatric medicine fellowship program in Ghana. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. 2019;67(8):1718-23.

Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection Republic of Ghana. 2010. Available from: