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The West African College of Physicians was established in 1976. It is an association of medical specialists in the following disciplines:

Community Health
Family Medicine
Internal Medicine
Laboratory Medicine, made up of its major specialties of Anatomical Pathology, Chemical Pathology, Haematology and Medical Microbiology

Initially, the College operated in the five English-speaking West African countries. In recent years, its membership has expanded to include the eight French-speaking countries.
The College is organised into faculties, made up of specialists in each of the major disciplines listed above. Fellows in the various countries are organised into Chapters. Currently, there are eight chapters: – The Cote d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, The Republic of Benin, Senegal and Sierra Leone.

The objectives of the College are:
a. To promote professional training of physicians in West Africa
b. To promote the standards of professional practice, ethics and morals of physicians in West Africa
c. To promote health and healthcare in West Africa
d. To determine persons to be designated as specialist physicians after due consideration of their training, qualifications and experience
e. To advise and assist the governments of the sub region, the West African Health Organisation and other relevant organisations on matters relating to training , health promotion, health care and research in West Africa
f. To cooperate with appropriate bodies that encourage and provide facilities for the achievement of the objectives of the College
g. To publish books, journals and other scientific materials as may be considered useful in support of these activities.

The College is responsible for postgraduate specialist training of doctors in the five Anglophone West African countries. Its training programmes cover the six specialties listed above. Its sister College, the West African College of Surgeons, is responsible for training in the remaining, surgical-related, specialties of Medicine. The College organises educational and scientific programmes, including an Annual General and Scientific Meeting that rotates through the various member countries. Extensive collaborations have been developed with equivalent organisations throughout the world, including the Royal Colleges of the United Kingdom, the South African colleges and the American College of Physicians.


STRUCTURE OF THE COLLEGE- The College’s Committee StructureTop


The College’s Administration StructureTop


National Chapter AdministrationTop

The Faculty / Faculty BoardTop

The Faculty meets at least twice a year. It is the Faculty that promotes professional training and standards of practice in the specialty. It also prescribes the curriculum for postgraduate professional training in the specialty. The Faculty conducts the Fellowship examinations in the specialty and organizes such other activities (e.g. workshops, symposia, update and revision courses) and other activities as may promote the aims and objectives of the College. The Faculty Board exercises the powers of the Faculties, by:

a. Preparing and periodically reviewing the curriculum for the Diploma of the Fellowship of the College in the Faculty.
b. Evaluating applications for all examinations for the Diploma of the Fellowship of the College in the Faculty.
c. Evaluating applications for candidates applying for the Fellowship of the College by election and make recommendations to the Council, and
d. Evaluating applications from candidates for approved examinations of the College in the Faculty.

Education and Research Committee Top

This committee comprises the Chairman, Secretary and Chief Examiner from each Faculty. The President of the College is the Chairman of the committee and the Secretary-General the Secretary. The Education and Research Committee performs the following functions:

a. Arranges workshops, seminars and other educational activities on behalf of the College.
b. Organizes and coordinates postgraduate courses.
c. Organizes the Annual Scientific Meetings of the College.
d. Through its Research sub-committee, makes recommendations on policies and priorities for research, organizes and supervises collaborative research with other organisations, seeks external research funding and disburses research grants.
e. Organizes and advises on such other activities as may enhance the educational and research functions of the College.

Accreditation CommitteeTop

The Accreditation Committee of the College comprises one Fellow from each Faculty of the College appointed by the Council on the nomination of the Faculty Board. The Chairman of the Committee is the College President and the Secretary is the Secretary General. The functions of the Committee are:

a. To carry out the inspection of institutions in the member countries which provide postgraduate professional medical education in order to assess the suitability of such institutions and their programmes for training in each particular specialty.
b. To determine the criteria for recognition of postgraduate medical specialist qualifications obtained outside the member countries.

Finance and General Purposes CommitteeTop

The Finance and General Purposes Committee comprises: The President of the College, the Immediate Past President, the Vice-Presidents, the President-Elect, the Secretary-General, the College Treasurer and the Immediate Past Secretary-General. The Committee acts on behalf of the full Council in between meetings of the Council and in situations of emergency where the full Council may not be able to meet. The functions of this committee are:

a. Preparation of annual estimates for the College.
b. Assisting the President and the Secretary–General in administering the College in between Annual General Meetings.
c. Carrying out the directives of the Council.
d. Appointing senior staff of the College.

The College CouncilTop

The College Council is made up of not more than six (6) Fellows (other than Honorary Fellows) from each Chapter and reflecting, as much as possible, the various Faculties. Chairmen of Faculties are non-voting members of Council, without prejudice to the six members elected by each Chapter. The six Fellows from each Chapter include its National Chairman/College Vice-President, National Secretary, the National Treasurer and three others elected by the Chapter. The Council elects from amongst its members and former Council members the College President, the Secretary–General and the College Treasurer. The Immediate Past President and Immediate Past Secretary-General of the College are ex-officio members of the Council with full voting rights. The President-Elect, the Assistant Secretary-General and Assistant Treasurer are ex-officio, non-voting members of the Council.

The powers and duties of the Council are:-
a. To take responsibility for the overall supervision and organisation of the affairs of the College.
b. To hold meetings once a year and at such other times as shall be deemed necessary by the President or, when called upon to do so.
c. To be responsible for, and supervise the administration of the College through necessary directives to College officers.
d. To fill for the unexpired term, any vacancy created by the resignation, death or removal of a College officer.
e. To be responsible for the organization and conduct of College examinations.
f. To deal with the funds of the College and invest upon such securities in such manner as may from time to time be determined by the College.
g. To acquire by purchase, lease or otherwise any lands or property as may be deemed by the Council likely to advance or benefit the Aims and Objectives of the College.
h. To manage, improve and maintain, and to demise, sell or otherwise deal with and dispose of all or any part of the lands and other property of the College for such consideration as the Council may deem fit.
i. To do all such other lawful things as are incidental and conducive to the attainment of the Aims and Objectives of the College.


  • The College conducts training programmes in accredited institutions in every member country. These include middle level specialists through the Diploma in Psychiatry programme.

  • The curricula for the Fellowship training programmes of all faculties are regularly reviewed. In line with modern developments, these are all competency-based. The assessment (examination) methods are also upgraded regularly in line with modern requirements.

  • Since its Fellowship training programme commenced in 1979, over 1500 specialists have completed the Fellowship training programme of the College.

  • Accreditation criteria for the training programmes and institutions are updated on a regular and continuous basis. The expected competencies guide the accreditation of programmes in training institutions. Feedback is routinely given to heads of institutions that fall short of the expected standards. It is the desire of the College to increase the number of accredited posts and institutions, especially in underserved Faculties and Countries.

  • Workshops are regularly organized for training coordinators and examiners (during examination periods), on various aspects of the curriculum and methods of assessment. A number of examiners from the various faculties have participated in or observed examinations in sister colleges outside the sub-region and attended courses on methods of assessment. Specialists from these institutions have also participated as observers of the College’s Fellowship examinations; their reports have served to evaluate the standards of the training programme and its examinations.

  • A Membership certificate is awarded after the Part I Fellowship examination for those who may not wish to pursue the full Fellowship programme; however, this is regarded as a middle level qualification.

  • The College has been actively participating in the integration and harmonization of curricula of the Francophone specialist training programmes under the auspices of the West African Health Organization (WAHO


Promoting the standards of professional practice, ethics and morals of physiciansTop

  • The College provides Continuing Professional Development programmes through its Conferences and educational courses.

  • The College prescribes rigorous standards for its Fellows, Members and trainees and prescribes severe penalties for those that breach these standards. There are provisions in the Medical and Dental Councils Acts of member countries which the College endorses and upholds.

Promotion of Health and Health Care in the Sub–regionTop

  • Fellows of the College provide high quality specialist health care throughout the sub-region.

  • Fellows of the College teach at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels in the Medical Schools in the sub-region.

  • Fellows of the College work in Ministries of Health and other health care agencies at the highest levels of planning and policy making.

  • The College is committed to developing outreach programmes. It ensures wide circulation and publication, in the print and electronic media, of the communiqués of conferences and meetings, including the communiqué of its Annual General and Scientific Meeting in all the member countries. Through the College website, Journal and Faculty and College newsletters, it publishes research findings.

  • The College recognizes that more needs to be done proactively on topical issues that affect the health of our people in the sub-region. It has actively encouraged supporting health services through exchange of specialised personnel.

  • The College trains middle-level health professionals through the Diploma in Mental Health programme to meet the shortfall of psychiatrists all over the sub-region. It is committed to developing other programmes as needed by the governments of the sub-region.

Certification/Determination of persons to be designated as specialistsTop

  • A substantial number of individuals with specialist qualifications have been elected to the Fellowship of the College following examination of these qualifications. The numbers of those elected to the Fellowship has been gradually reducing as the numbers entering the College’s training programme in the sub-region have increased.

  • The College has developed a list of specialist qualifications that are considered equivalent to its Fellowship.

Advising Governments on matters relating to Health Care and Health PromotionTop

The College provides inputs to the ECOWAS countries on health matters through the West African Health Organization (WAHO). It is also working actively with WAHO on policy development, including the harmonization and equivalences of postgraduate medical qualifications across the sub-region. Through its chapters it provides advice to individual governments. The new Strategic Plan includes strategies to enhance these inputs.

Collaboration with other Colleges and AgenciesTop

Within the West African sub-region, the College has established productive collaborations with the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria, the West African College of Surgeons, the Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons and the Medical Research Council in The Gambia. It has also established effective collaborations with a number of overseas institutions, including the Royal Colleges of the United Kingdom, the South African Medical Colleges and the American College of Physicians. The collaboration with the Royal College of Physicians of London has been particularly productive. That collaboration has included a joint conference, exchange visits, distribution of educational materials and, most importantly, the establishment of an educational methodology programme (the Doctors as Educators programme), which the WACP can now provide to trainers throughout the sub-region. These activities were partly supported through a major grant from an external funding agency. The two colleges are developing further funding proposals.


The West African Journal of Medicine is a joint publication of the College and the West African College of Surgeons. The College also publishes its Annual College Lectures, the proceedings of its scientific conferences and other publications.

Becoming a truly West African CollegeTop

The College initially involved only the five Anglophone countries. In recent years the College has made a determined effort to recruit specialists from the eight Francophone West African countries. It now has over 100 Fellows from four of these countries, with active Chapters in three of them – Coted’Ivoire, the Republic of Benin and Senegal. The new Strategic Plan contain proposals to recruit Fellows from all these countries and to charter chapters in all of them. It also plans to recruit specialists from the two Lusophone states.