Past, Present and the Future” but today I would rather title it as: Radiography in Ghana – “How far and Where far”. This is because we have to know the present state of affairs and where we want to be in the near future as regards technological development in order to position ourselves for the challenges ahead as Ghana now joins the Oil Cartel.
Though I do not intend going back to the past, for the sake of the presence of students who may the first time be attending such a forum, I will briefly mention the advent of radiological services in Ghana without mentioning a tall list of people were involved but only a few. It was barely thirty-two years after the discovery of X-rays by Prof. Conrad Wilhelm Roentgen in November 1895, Korle-Bu Hospital was built by the then colonial Governor, Sir Frederick Gordon Guggisberg, precisely in 1927. By 1929 and with a nationwide outbreak of tuberculosis, especially among miners in the mining areas, the colonial government requested for the establishment of an X-ray Unit at Korle-Bu Hospital for screening the citizens for early treatment. This was under the management of British radiographers who later co-opted some nurses to train them as their assistants. Mr. Thompson of blessed memory was one of the few of such people.
A formal training School under the Ministry of Health was established at Korle-Bu Hospital for local training while a few people like Mr. C.S.K Ocansey, who became the first Chief Radiographer in the country and Mr. E. B. Ephson, who also became the first Ghanaian Training Officer of the School in 1951, were sent to the United Kingdom to train as Radiographers. Since then several people passed through the School and the products were designated as “X-ray Operators” (a misnomer) and later became Radiologic Technicians. Products were awarded a Proficiency Certificate by the Ministry of Health.
Other people of reckoning include Mrs. Francois (the Proprietress of New Horizon School at Cantonments) the first female Ghanaian Radiographer, late Mrs. Elizabeth Nyarkoah Lewis, Mrs. Victoria Mills, Mrs. Agnes Odonkor and Mrs. Harriet Duah, the latter four all becoming Chief Radiographers while Mrs. Duah also became the Principal of the Training School taking over from Mr. Adjei Buady, through its transitionary periods of Certificate and Diploma and as well becoming instrumental in the drawing of the Curricula for both the Diploma and Degree Programmes. She also held fort at the inception of the Degree Programme, until the younger generation came over from their postgraduate studies and continued to lecture until finally bowing out in 2010. Let me also add that Mr. Ephson continued to teach till when he was 80 years.
We also have senior members like Mr. John Quaye who taught in the Training School and Mr. John Gakpetor, both becoming Acting Chief Radiographers. On the Technician side, there were two admirable ladies who contributed tremendously to the formation of most of us, the late Mrs. Dorcas Yeboah (nee. Dorcas Nunoo,” May her soul rest in perfect peace”) affectionately called Sister Dorcas or Auntie Dorcas and Mrs. Grace Nkum (nee Grace Adu). In fact space and time will not permit me to mention all, but we need to doff our hats to all who have contributed in no way to the development of radiography in Ghana.
Ladies and Gentlemen, radiography worldwide, in both education and practice, has developed from simple and primitive technology to computerized technology. It has developed from the time when only X-rays were used to produce images to using high frequency sound and magnetic resonance to produce images. We have moved from the production of unidimensional images to the production of 2- and 3-Dimensional images with the ability to demonstrate soft tissues which had hitherto been a mirage. Radiography has indeed developed so fast that we are able to use for forensic investigations to assist in criminal prosecution.
The same development in technology transmits to the classroom for training radiographers since they have a lot more to perform in the clinical area then is seen now, especially in our side of the globe. Radiographers not only produce the images, but they have the additional responsibilities of ensuring that what they produce provides the appropriate information for right resultsmanagement of patients. They have to ensure that their clients go through the correct procedures, receive quality care, protected from unnecessary irradiation, have the appropriate information as to what examinations and procedures they will go through, and therefore provide avenues for informed choices. Radiographers also are required to protect the clients’ rights as regards privacy and confidentiality, and also have to bear the responsibilities of their own actions and decisions taken when providing services to their clients.
These activities of Radiographers in many countries such as UK, USA, Canada, Australia, Japan, South Africa and Nigeria, to mention a few, have therefore been operationalised and put in legal frameworks to regulate the practice of radiography and protect the rights of both the practitioner and the client. In Ghana, we have not gone beyond the establishment of a Task Force to prepare the way for the birth of a Council to regulate not Radiographers but all the Allied Health Professions.