Prof Afua Adwo Jectey Hesse …First Ghanaian trained female Paediatric Surgoen opens up on impactful career

Prof Afua Adwo Jectey Hesse …First Ghanaian trained female Paediatric Surgoen opens up on impactful career

Prof Afua Adwo Jectey Hesse, delivering an address

Working as a Paedi­atric Surgeon was God’s plan for my life because l was told by my par­ents that at the age of four, l had indicated l would become a paediatric surgeon. It is so surprising that l knew nothing about it so l inferred that it was God who had directed my thoughts.”

These are the words of a genius and no wonder Prof Afua Adwo Jeckey Hesse be­came the first in all her fields of endeavour.

She is the first Ghanaian trained female Paediatric Surgeon, the first female to head the Department of Sur­gery at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital and the first female to head the Paediatric Surgery Department at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital.

She is also the first fe­male to work as the Director of Medical Affairs, Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, and the first female to Act as the Chief Executive Officer at the hospital.

She is presently the President of Accra College of Medicine (ACM).


Prof Afua Adwo Ajectey- Hesse who turns 70 this year was born in Kumasi to Prof Kwadwo Asare Jectey Nyarko and Mrs Agnes Jectey Nyarko of blessed memory.

●●Prof Jectey Hesse
● Prof Jectey Hesse

Her father was a lecturer in Geography at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Sci­ence and Technology, Kumasi while her mother taught at the Basic School in the same university.

When her father had the opportunity to study for his Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in France, he took the family along because he wanted his children to get the neces­sary exposure to the outside world.

After the completion of the course, the family re­turned to Ghana. She enrolled at the Wesley Girls’ High School and sat for the Or­dinary Level and later com­pleted the Advanced Level certificate in 1969.

She entered the University of Ghana Medical School and graduated in Bachelor of Med­icine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBChB) in 1976. She did her house job at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital.

While working as a Demonstrator in Anatomy at the Anatomy Department, University of Ghana Medical School, she wrote the primary examination and later gained admission to do her Postgrad­uate studies at the Royal Col­lege of Surgeons in the United Kingdom.

She later read Manage­ment Studies at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) and the School of Manage­ment in London.


She got married to Prof Adukwei I.F. Hesse in 1978 and when her husband went to Birmingham in the Unit­ed Kingdom to study for his postgraduate programme in Physiology, she joined him with their two sons.

● Prof Afua Adwo Jectey Hesse

While lecturing in Birming­ham as a Senior House Officer, within three years, she had sat for the Fellowship Exam­ination at the Royal College of Surgeons in Birmingham.

Prof Jectey Hesse worked as a Clinical Fellow in Pae­diatric Surgeon. She again worked as Clinical Fellow in Clinical Surgery and Paediat­ric Surgery in the Bristol Royal Hospital.

In 1998, she and the husband returned to Ghana with their four children and applied to the University of Ghana to lecture. Her hus­band was employed in the Department of Medicine ( Internal Medicine), and taught Physiology also, while she worked in the Paediatric Surgery Department at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital.

Coincidentally, the Head of Paediatric Surgery Depart­ment who was her tutor, left unceremoniously and the mantle fell on her to head the department.


She said it was an arduous task working continuously as a paediatric surgeon with no time to rest. Later, she had to recruit more doctors and nurses to assist her in the department and ensured that the staff were exposed to some of the best practices outside the country.

She said she had never wavered going through all the disciplines in medicine.

“In paediatric surgery, a child comes to the hospital with a problem and when you operate on the child or you correct the problem, the next day the child is ready to go and play football. In this situation, the anxious parents would like to find out wheth­er the child should be allowed to play or not,” she said.

Prof Jectey Hesse ex­plained that there was no regret working as a Paediatric Surgeon because she attached professionalism to her work and the relief given to par­ents and their sick children had provided her a lot of satisfaction. Additionally, working with her hands to see a little child get better was a wonderful activity which she took delight in.

Though on retirement, she is a part-time lecturer at the University of Ghana Medical School and still has so much to pass on to the younger gen­eration as long as God gives her the strength to do what she loved doing best.


She explained that the Paediatric Surgery Depart­ment took care of newborn babies up to 13 years.

She said the challenges in the department included the clinical condition the patient was identified with, you could diagnose the condition and prescribe medication for the patient, but the parents could not purchase the medicine, and having completed a nice job, the post-operative man­agement of the case could be problematic because the parents could not provide the needed items.

Prof Jectey Hesse intimat­ed that there were occasions she had to use her money in support of needy children on admission in the hospital, and this situation had occasioned the establishment of a Special Fund in the department in support of needy children.


When asked what motivat­ed the family to establish the Accra College of Medicine, she said one of her sons had expressed concern that there were many students who had applied to the medical schools in Ghana with good grades but could not gain admission to the public medical schools because of the cut-off point, so he asked why couldn’t the family establish a school to cater for some of these students.

She said the family decid­ed to manage the academic part of the university while other stakeholders provide the financial part. That was the vision to get stakehold­ers who would provide the needed funds for this laudable project, hence the coming into being of the Accra Col­lege of Medicine.

“By the grace of God, the school has graduated 28 medical doctors from three batches. The main thing is about their work ethics and high character,” she said.


According to her, some of her former students were grateful for the opportunity granted them to study medi­cine to become doctors. They said this would not have been possible without the estab­lishment of ACM.

Prof Jectey Hesse is a Christian whose hobbies include, reading, cooking, baking, playing the piano at her leisure and she loves singing.

She loves Ghanaian foods and cooks perfectly well with­out the use of additives.

She urged Ghanaians to de­sist from telling lies and “do what they would like to do if nobody was watching them.”

By Raymond Kyekye

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