Professor Jacob Plange-Rhule was the Rector of the Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons, a nephrologist at Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, and a professor at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi.
Dr. Plange-Rhule died at the age of 62 on Good Friday, April 10, 2020. Dr. Plange-Rhule was born on July 27, 1957, in Elmina in Ghana. He trained in medicine at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, qualifying in 1984.
Dr. Plange-Rhule met his wife Gyikua in medical school, and they married in 1987. He completed his PhD in Physiology at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom in 1991 with Professor John Atherton on sodium excretion and mechanisms of glomerular filtration in rats.
Returning to Ghana in 1991 Dr. Plange-Rhule was appointed as Senior Medical Officer at Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, Kumasi, and later the same year as Lecturer in Physiology at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology.
In 2001 he was promoted as an associate professor and Head of Department at the School of Medical Sciences. He taught generations of medical students and medical laboratory technicians. In addition, he supervised numerous MPhil and PhD students. At the same time, he worked as a Consultant Physician and Nephrologist and head of the Renal Unit at Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital Kumasi until 2017.
He was elected a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians London under Bye-Law 117 in 2011. He was an Honorary Senior Lecturer in the Department of Renal Medicine and Transplantation, St George’s Hospital, University of London.
In 1999, Dr. Plange-Rhule and John Eastwood read about the International Society of Nephrology (ISN) Renal Sister Centers in Kidney International and were soon in contact with ISN. The result was a 5-day ISN visit to Ghana in 2001 led by John Dirks and supported by Sarala Naicker and John Eastwood.
There were continuing medical education meetings in both Accra and Kumasi, as well as meetings with those local academic and clinical leaders who could support the initiative in introducing nephrology to Ghana. There were two important sequelae of this visit. First, there has been an annual ISN-supported continuing medical education annually in Ghana ever since. Second, 3 adult and 3 pediatric nephrologists in Ghana are products of ISN Fellowships to the United Kingdom and to South Africa.
Dr. Plange-Rhule played a major role in establishing the Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons (GCPS), of which he was a Foundation Fellow. He was also a strong advocate for developing postgraduate medical specialty training in Ghana, and the success of this led to an almost total cessation of Ghanaian doctors leaving Ghana to train abroad (the brain drain)
. At the time of his death, Prof Plange-Rhule was the Rector of the GCPS, a position he held from 2015. He remained passionately involved in undergraduate and postgraduate medical education. Dr. Plange-Rhule played a major leadership role in the development of medicine in Ghana and Africa, and his expertise was widely sought. Among many other leadership positions, he was President of the Ghana Medical Association from 2001 to 2003, President of the Ghana Kidney Association from 2015 to 2018, and Chairman of the Ghana Ministry of Health Non-Communicable Disease Steering Committee. As Rector of the GCPS, he played a major role in coordinating the training activities of the various West African Colleges of Medicine and in developing new training programs. He also developed collaborations in training with the Royal Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons of the United Kingdom.
Dr. Plange-Rhule first met John Eastwood at St George’s Hospital, London, in 1994, with the intention of forming an academic link, and they agreed to collaborate on developing teaching and clinical research in Kumasi. In April 1995, Dr. Plange-Rhule created the first blood pressure clinic in Kumasi at Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital. The data collected were published in the Journal of Human Hypertension (1999). Later the same year, the Association of Physicians of Great Britain and Ireland awarded Dr. Plange-Rhule and John Eastwood a grant of £5000 to establish the collaboration.
Dr. Plange-Rhule was a foundation Vice President of the Ghana Kidney Association in 2011, and he became the Association’s President from 2014 to 2017. The Ghana Kidney Association helped the GCPS establish a postgraduate nephrology specialist training program in 2013, and this has been successful in training nephrologists for Ghana and the subregion.
He is survived by his wife Gyikua, who is a pediatrician, and 3 daughters.