Accepted paper:

Storying, studying and analysing health in Ghana: conceptualising the Medical Humanities in a West African institution of higher learning


Victoria Osei-Bonsu (University of Ghana)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines narratives/constructions surrounding health institutions in Ghana from a literary/cultural perspective. It proposes that MH scholarship in Ghana will illuminate the connections/disruptions between health provision and collective constructions about health institutions.

Paper long abstract:

Medical Humanities as a viable field of study continues to expand in many parts of the world, and has much recently taken root in some parts of Africa. However, in Ghana, it is almost non-existent as a conceptual area of study. While much health-related study has been done in disciplines related to the social sciences, to public health, or to linguistics, little or nothing has been done in the area of literature or the arts, especially with respect to critical analyses of narratives that shape, inform or depict peoples' notions about health and health institutions. Consequently, how a recently constructed well-resourced, state-of-the-art health facility becomes a metaphor for conveying mistrust in the healthcare system, instead of catering to health needs, attracts very little or no scholarly attention. Neither is there any dialectical interrogation of how seeking medical attention from a long-established teaching hospital becomes synonymous with grave illness and even inevitable death. This paper discusses the need to examine these and other health-related narratives and constructions by erasing long-held misconceptions, even in the academy in Ghana, of science research as markedly different from research in the arts, including literature. It proposes that promoting scholarship in the medical humanities in higher institutions in Ghana will facilitate a greater understanding of the connections and/or disruptions between health provision and collective metaphorical constructions of the value of health institutions in the country.

panel Hea02
The arts of dying and reviving institutions of health and well-being