By Kofi Ampeah-Woode, Kpeshie Ridge

The Ghana Military Academy (GMA) has once again lived up to the task of transforming civilians of the medical profession into refined military medical corps of the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF), after four months of intensive reformation.

One hundred and sixteen (116) Officer Cadets of the Special Medical Intake 5 (SMI 5), comprising of 31 Air Force cadets, 20 Naval cadets and 65 Army cadets, graduated on Friday, 17th May, 2019 – after entering the GMA on 25th January – at a splendid graduation parade held at the Military Academy Training Schools (MATS), Teshie Camp, with the Reviewing Officer being His Excellency Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia.

They were composed of 3 Clinical Specialists, 17 Medical Doctors, 12 Biomedical Scientists, 8 Physician Assistants, 2 Emergency Nurses, 1 Ophthalmic Nurse, 1 Nurse Practitioner, 7 Midwives, 4 each of Dental Surgeons, Pharmacists, Physiotherapists and Biomedical Engineers, 3 each of Anesthetists and Health Service Administrators, 2 each of Nursing Tutors and Public Health Officers and 37 General Nurses.

In his speech, the Vice President said the role of GAF has become even more profound, given the new threats and complexities facing Ghana and the entire West Africa sub region, hence the nation can move forward only in an atmosphere of peace and security and as such, she can only rely on the alertness of the military, in collaboration with other security agencies, to be secured.

The Veep said that, given the government’s commitment to the peace and security of the country and in keeping with promises made in the run up of the 2016 elections, the state will continue to ensure that GAF is well equipped and highly motivated to combat any attack at the nation’s peace and security, emphasizing that the provision of resources and logistics is one of the major priorities of government.

The Vice President mentioned the Barracks Regeneration Program, which has been expanded to 44 units of 16 block flats and an additional 160 2-bedroom apartments across the country, the cutting of sod for the construction of a ₵20 million multipurpose sports center for 6 Garrison, Tamale, which is the first of 6 such projects for all 6 garrisons of GAF, as ample demonstration to keep to promises made.

HE Dr Bawumia, continued that the Defence Health Initiative Project, which comprises of the 500-bed military hospital in Afari, Ashanti Region, the 3rd Phase of the 37 Military Hospital, as well as the implementation of the new law by the Military High Command, that would increase the length of stay in the Ghana Armed Forces eligible retirement age, from 25 to 30 years of active service, will all be in this year.

Dr Bawumia stated that since the academy represents the spiritual home and foundation of the Officer Corps of GAF, GMA will be transformed into a world class institution to ensure greater effectiveness and efficiency in the overall training and activities of instructors and cadets alike, to propel the cutting-edge training delivered, for the Academy to assume its proper place as one of the best on the continent.

“These health professionals passing out today would do their best to ensure we get the best healthcare, but it is also our responsibility to look after ourselves much better – apart from exercising and taking our regular health checkups seriously, it is important that we eat healthy diets to prevent diseases that often associate with poor nutrition choices”, the Veep stated.

Dr Bawumia spoke then to the officer cadets, “It cannot pass without saying that Service, Devotion and Sacrifice, shall be the mantra by which you live as the call to be active partakers in the development of Ghana, applies to you even more, as custodians of the health of our armed forces”.

Vice President Dr Bawumia concluded by urging the new officers to guard the discipline accolade of GAF jealously, to let it shape them at all times in order that their call to service, shall continually be devoted to Ghana, for the productivity of any nation depends on the wellbeing of its citizens.

The SMI 5 cadet training course consisted of 121 cadets, including 42 females, however 4 cadets were released on medical grounds and one cadet F/Cadet Osei-Assibey passed on during the course of training.

Cadets of the Regular Career Course 59, who entered GMA on 20 July 2018 are still under a 15 month training and will be due to earn their Presidential Commission into GAF in the third or last Quarter of 2019, which will be the annual GMA Graduation, to climax the 2018/2019 Training Year, although their SMI counterparts graduated after 4 months.

The Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) Award –  Best All Round Officer Cadet – went to Junior Under Officer (JUO) Ackuaku Augustino Jerry – Dental Surgeon, he also won the leadership award, Commandant’s Prize, the Second Best All Round – to Cadet Sergeant (C/Sgt) Osafo Emmanuel – Physician Assistant, Commander GMA Award – the Best Female Award which is awarded to the best female cadet in the Intake – went to Cadet Corporal (C/Cpl) Abakah Fordjuor Araba Etruba – a Medical Doctor.

The GMA has produced over four thousand officers who have served or continue to serve in various capacities in GAF and elsewhere around the world, whiles it has also trained officers from sister African countries like Benin, Burkina Faso, Togo, The Gambia, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Uganda and Guinea.

At the onset, the Academy had a mix of British, Canadian and Ghanaian staff, however, since 1974 the Academy has been manned entirely by Ghanaian staff, who continue to produce quality leaders of character for GAF and other sister African countries.

In the past years, Medic Courses 1, 2 and 3 – the predecessor of the Special Medical Intake – were run between 7th January, 1983 and 17th August, 1985, but in recent times, the Academy has trained 4 SMIs, the first being commissioned in February 2011, the second in August 2013, the third in March 2017 and the fourth in April 2018.

Dignitaries present included the Minister for Defence and MP for Bimbilla – Dominic Nitiwul, Minister for the Interior and MP for Nandom – Ambrose Dery, CDS – Lieutenant General OB Akwa, Chief of the Army Staff – Major General (Maj Gen) William Azure Ayamdo, Chief of the Naval Staff – Rear Admiral Seth Amoama, Chief of Air Staff – Air Vice Marshall Frank Hanson, Commandant, MATS – Maj Gen William Omane-Agyekum, Commandant, Ghana Armed Forces Command and Staff College – Rear Admiral Moses Beick-Baffour and the Commander, GMA – Brigadier General Solomon Tei-Mensah Osabutey.

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