In a collaborative effort between the University of Michigan, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, a teaching hospital and other medical groups, Ghana has launched its first-ever training programme in emergency medicine and nursing. Some 15 specialist-emergency physicians, trained in the programme, are already working in hospitals in the Ashanti, Greater Accra and Northern regions.

Some 35 trained nurses have been posted to facilities across eight regions in the country.

The project emerged in response to the Accra Sports Stadium disaster of May 9, 2001 at the Ohene Djan Sports Stadium. Two popular teams were scheduled to play and trouble was anticipated. After the home side scored two late goals, the losing team’s fans began tossing plastic seats and bottles onto the pitch. Police responded by throwing tear gas into the crowd, sparking a stampede which led to the deaths from compressive asphyxia of 127 people.

Some gates were locked, preventing escape. The medical staff at the stadium had already gone home. “It was the longest and darkest night in Africa soccer history,” wrote Kent Mensah in goal.com.

Authorities were blamed in an official inquiry with over-reacting, reckless behavior and indiscriminate firing of plastic bullets and tear gas. Six officers were accused of dishonesty and failure to take quick action.

A hearing on the incident failed to find any guilty parties but Ghanaians remember the disaster on May 9 each year.

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