On the 24th of November 2023, the University of Ghana Medical School (UGMS) had the opportunity to take part in the 10th edition of the Inter-Medical Schools Public Speaking Competition. It had been on hiatus for a few years due to COVID-19. The debate was on the topic: ‘’APPROPRIATENESS OF TELEMEDICINE AND TECHNOLOGY IN MENTAL HEALTH CARE DELIVERY, THE PROS AND CONS,’’ and took place at the College of Physicians and Surgeons Auditorium.

The program commenced at 12:30PM. The competition was between seven schools: University of Ghana (UG), University of Cape Coast (UCC), Accra College of Medicine (ACM), Family Health University College (FHUC), Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), University of Health and Allied Health Sciences (UHAS) and University for Development Studies (UDS).

The first session of the program was the debate. Participants were scored based on clarity of presentation, strength of arguments, ability to engage the audience as well as their effectiveness in summary. The students balloted for the order in which they would present their arguments. Each principal speaker was allowed 10 minutes to present the introduction to their argument, as well as the pros, after which the supporting speakers followed with the cons and rebuttals for their opponents’ arguments. 

University of Ghana Medical School was represented by Clarkson Duku-Acheampong, as the principal speaker, and Salomey Odei as the supporting speaker. In Clarkson’s presentation, he mentioned the fact that telemedicine aids busy individuals by allowing them to bypass the bureaucratic processes involved in scheduling appointments in Ghanaian mental healthcare facilities.  

He also stated that telemedicine has the potential to break barriers of stigmatization and foster trust and patient safety. To balance the argument, Salomey highlighted that, in as much as telemedicine has so many benefits, Ghana’s Acts on Data Privacy, passed in 2012, have not been revised, hence the provisions of the Act are not suitable for present life situations. If telemedicine is to be incorporated, the Act must be revised.

After a very interesting and educative time, a Question-and-Answer session followed. The judges asked each pair of contestants questions based on the contents of their arguments. Marks were awarded for how well they answered these questions.

Dr. Abigail Harden, the winner from the 3rd edition and psychiatrist at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, was given the opportunity to speak shortly after. She recounted her experience representing UCC and said she understood what it took to be on stage and argue in such an environment. She congratulated all contestants and stated that as long as one has had the courage to participate, one cannot be called a loser.

With a score of 88.1%, the contestants from UCC were adjudged the winners, with UHAS and UDS following closely. Though the contestants from UGMS placed 5th, they made us proud with an amazing score of 82%. UGMS is proud of Clarkson and Salomey!

~AYEYI AFRIYIE ANNIN

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