History Susan Ofori-Atta, the first Ghanaian female doctor in the...

Susan Ofori-Atta, the first Ghanaian female doctor in the Gold Coast


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Susan Ofori-Atta later known as Susan de-Graft Johnson was  the first Ghanaian female  doctor in the Gold Coast (Now Ghana).

Susan Ofori-Atta later known as Susan de-Graft Johnson was  the first Ghanaian female  doctor in the Gold Coast (Now Ghana)
Susan Ofori-Atta

Early life

Susan Ofori-Atta was born in Kyebi, Gold Coast (Now Ghana), in 1917 to Nana Sir Ofori

Atta I, the Okyenhene and Paramount Chief of the Akyem Abuakwa Traditional Area, and his wife Nana Akosua Duodu.

Susan started her basic education at St. Mary’s Convent Elmina (1921).

she excelled so much that at the age of 12, she entered Achimota Secondary School in

1929; just two years after Achimota College had been opened in 1927. She was thus one of the pioneering students.

Throughout her years at Achimota, she was among the top in her class and exhibited

such excellence and brilliance in her academic work that she was one of the few women

who made it to the final year and sat for the Cambridge School Certificate and passed. She was the Girls’ Head Prefect in her final year.

Susan Ofori-Atta further practiced midwifery at Korle-Bu during her tertiary education

level, she further continued her education at Edinburgh University Medical School, where

she obtained her MB,Ch.B degree in 1949.


Susan de-Graft Johnson began her working life as a midwife, then studied medicine and

became the first Ghanaian female doctor in the Gold Coast (Now Ghana) and climbed further on the ladder of her profession to become a pediatrician.

Additionally, Her quest for more knowledge concerning malnutrition problems among

children led her into the field of medical research into children’s malnutrition.

She therefore named the findings of her research work “Kwashiokor”, a Ga word which became part of the medical vocabulary.

In 1960, she volunteered her time at a Congolese hospital that was understaffed.

During her time as a medical officer at the Princess Marie Louise Hospital, she was dubbed “mmofra doctor” (children’s doctor).

When the University of Ghana Medical School was set up, she left the Princess Marie Louise Hospital to join the medical school.

Susan Ofori-Atta was a founding member of the Pediatric Department.

Consequently, She retired from the Medical School and set up her own clinic, known as the Accra Clinic.

She was a member of the 1969 Constituent Assembly which drafted the Constitution for the Second Republic of Ghana.

She was honored by the University of Ghana in 1974 with an honorary Doctor of Science for her pioneering research work into childhood malnutrition.


She got married to E. V. C. de Graft-Johnson, a barrister-at-law based in Accra and a

close relation of Joseph W.S. de Graft-Johnson, Vice-President of Ghana from 1979 to 1981


A women’s house at the Achimota School is named after Susan Ofori-Atta

Susan Ofori-Atta house
Susan Ofori-Atta house photo credit: kuulpeeps

Thereupon in July 1985  Susan de-Graft Johnson  died in the United Kingdom of natural causes.


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