Brief History of Anatomy


The  department  of  Anatomy  was  the  foundational  department  of  the  Ghana  Medical  School  at  its establishment by a presidential fiat in October 1964, which later became the University of Ghana Medical School (UGMS) until. The first batch of 40 students studied Anatomy for 37 weeks under the headship of the Late Prof. J.K.M. Quartey. Currently, class size has increased and ranges between 170-200 students for undergraduate (Medical /Dental students) under the headship of Prof. Frederick. K. Addai. The department is presently part of the School of Biomedical and Allied Health Sciences of the College of Health Sciences since the coming into effect of the University of Ghana Collegiate system from 2014/2015 Academic year. The pre-clinical programme for Medicine/Dentistry is now run in Modules, hence Anatomy is no longer taught as a stand-alone programme, but component part of eight (8) modules.


The  department  engages  in  human  anatomy  education  via  didactic  lectures,  Tutorials,  Cadaveric dissections, Histology practical sessions, and Embryology to Pre-Med students, and trainee Allied Health Professionals  including  Physiotherapists,  Occupational  Therapists,  and  Respiratory  Therapists.  Anatomy instructional services are also rendered to the School of Nursing (SON) and the Graduate Entry Medical Programme (GEMP) of the School of Medicine and Dentistry (SMD). Given that the department supports diverse programmes with variable basic education in Human Anatomy, the present staff strength of eight (8) (three of which are on post- retirement contract) is far short of the minimum twenty-two required to optimally  discharge  all  core  responsibilities  to  the  students  with  different  requirements  for Anatomy instruction.
The department used to run an intercalated BSc (Hons) programme in Anatomy for interested students of the  erstwhile  UGMS  who  obtained  distinction  in  Anatomy  at  their  MBII  level.  The  B.Sc.  programme which  was  successfully  completed  by  five  (5)  graduates,  was  discontinued  when  the  UGMS  introduced B.Sc.  Med.  Sci.  degree  for  all  students  after  their  pre-clinical  training.  The  department  now  runs postgraduate training at the M .Phil. level, and has a PhD programme undergoing institutional review for approval. A total of 35 M.Phil. trainees have been produced since 1999; 31 of them since 2005. Six M.Phil. Graduates have gone on to obtain PhD in Universities abroad; including Leicester and Edinburgh in UK, Cape Town in South Africa, Munich in Germany, Dalian in China, and Nairobi in Kenya. Ten (10) other M.Phil. Anatomy graduates are at different stages of their PhD training in Ghana (KNUST), Germany, and USA.  Some  have  taken  up  Academic  positions  in  sister  Universities  such  as  University  of  Cape  Coast (UCC) and the University of Health and Allied Sciences (UHAS).


Over the years, the Department’s culture of Leadership succession plan has produced several high-profile administrators for the College and the University of Ghana at large. These include four past Deans of the erstwhile  UGMS  (now  SMD),  with  the  last  three  heading  in succession  of  each  other.  Similarly,  the 2 department prides itself in producing the foundation provost of the College of Health Sciences (CHS) in the person of Rev. Prof. A.S. Ayettey, followed by two other Provosts in succession by Prof. Clifford. N.B. Tagoe and then Prof. Aaron L. Lawson. Prof. Tagoe went further as to become the Pro-Vice Chancellor, and Vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana. Dedication  and  commitment  by  all  staff  of  the  department  has  earned  us  the  Best  Basic  Science Department  award  by  the  University  of  Ghana  Medical  Students  Association  (UGMSA)  many  times. Successive Heads  of  Department  were  voted  best Lecturer by  (UGMSA).  Under the leadership of Prof. F.K.  Addai, the department  has  been at  the forefront  of  research into the health benefits  of  cocoa  since 2004. Prof. Addai gave the first seminal Public Lecture on cocoa’s health benefits on Sept. 2004, and at the fifth Public Lecture commemorating the 50thanniversary of the erstwhile UGMS. Fourteen M.Phil projects so  far  have  demonstrated  benefits  of  natural  cocoa  in  animal  models  of  diseases  including  Type1  and Type2 diabetes Mellitus, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, malaria, alcohol toxicity, and promotion of wound  healing.  The  department  holds  the  distinction  of  being  the  first  in  the  world  to  hypothesize  and demonstrate antimalarial prophylactic benefit of regular consumption of natural cocoa powder.

The department’s expertise in the handling and preservation of human remains is put at the disposal of the public  by  offering  Embalming and  Mortuary  Services, including ancillary  motor Hearse  services.  These Income generating activities have been the main source of financial support for research and staff training. Gross Income for 2017 was GHC1, 025, 000.00. Plans are far advanced to re-start a cytogenetic service and a cell/Tissue culture laboratory which will go a long way to help boost research in the department. There are  also  on-going  trials  to  prepare  human  bones  for  teaching  from  remains  of  cadavers  dissected  by students during practical gross anatomy sessions.