Kojo Alfred Osei-Bonsu routinely witnessed perseverance and heartache at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital in his native Ghana.
Faucets in surgical theaters frequently stopped running, prompting nurses or orderlies to fetch water stored in barrels. Hospital staff had to ration gloves. Doctors, on many occasions, used their own money to pay for tests or medications for patients who could not afford them.
Osei-Bonsu says the hospital can, and should, better serve the people of Ghana. “As a member of a team of doctors, I have helped restore health to lots of patients and their joy at recovery always gives me a feeling of contentment,” he says. “But I soon found out that whatever impact I was making, although great, was hugely limited by the overall health system in which I operated.”
In medical school, Osei-Bonsu learned that effective leadership can bring about positive change. As president of the Medical Students Association, he helped push through curriculum reform that significantly shortened the time in which students can complete their medical studies. In a country where the doctor-patient ratio is 1 to 18,000, more practicing doctors are needed immediately.
Despite the formidable obstacles to improving the health care system, Osei-Bonsu has faith in Ghana’s ability to adequately meet its population’s heath needs. In ten years, he envisions himself as a leader in the Ghana Health Service, reforming the system and improving millions of lives.
“I believe that with innovative and effective leadership driving [Ghana’s] Ministry of Health, hospital administration and the national health insurance agency, we will continue making steady and confident strides toward building a most desirable health delivery system,” he says. “As an individual doctor I can do so little, as a health leader, and, with a good team, I can do so much more.”
Consultant, The Boston Consulting Group