Name: Dr. Abena Yeboaa Tannor
Home Country: Ghana
Areas of Expertise: Physical medicine, rehabilitation services, & curriculum development
Meet Dr. Abena Tannor
In my debut segment of Fellows to Watch, I am highlighting Dr. Abena Yeboaa Tannor, a healthcare practitioner based in Kumasi, Ghana with a passion for the rehabilitation of persons with disabilities and relentless advocate for public health education.
After earning her BsC in Human Biology from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Master’s in Rehabilitation from St. George’s University of London and MBChB in Medicine/Surgery, she is now working to address the lack of awareness and understanding of rehabilitation services throughout the African continent.
Dr. Tannor stands out due to her extraordinary humanitarian efforts coupled with a focus on scholarly contributions. In addition to working as a physician specialist at Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH), she conducts research aimed at improving multi-disciplinary rehabilitation in developing countries and is a member of multiple international organizations.
Her passion for the rehabilitation field developed from seeing an overwhelming amount of disabled people begging on the street with little to no support. Considering the fact that there is not a single inpatient physical medicine and rehabilitation center in Ghana solidified Dr. Tannor’s challenging career choice.
Dr. Tannor and U of M
Dr. Tannor is being hosted by the Center for Integrative Leadership at the University of Minnesota (U of M) alongside 24 other fellows from 18 different African countries. Here, the cohort will undergo a six-week intensive professional development program focused on the area of public management.
The Center works with partners outside and inside the University of Minnesota to catalyze, learn from and inform collaborative action for social impact. Under the leadership of executive director, Vanessa Laird, UM will support Mandela Washington Fellows for the fourth consecutive year.
According to the 2015 U.S. census, about one in five immigrants in Minnesota comes from an African country. With the state being recognized as a region containing a high population of Africans, the collaboration between U of M and Mandela Washington Fellowship is an organic fit.
Upon her arrival to Minnesota, Dr. Tannor has expressed complete satisfaction with the orientation experience and balance between cohort-based activities and independent leisure time. Her primary goal for the program is to strengthen her leadership skills in non-profit management which will be applied to her multiple projects in Ghana and around the world.
With Dr. Tannor’s constant quest for new knowledge, she has plans to make the most of her opportunity through networking and gaining insight from professionals in the field. In addition to the mandatory group training, she will be connecting with U of M’s Department of Rehabilitation Medicine to observe their operations in patient care, education, and research in rehabilitation.
With a lot on her plate already, planning for the future requires deliberate strategy with an open mind. Dr. Tannor says that she “will not feel accomplished until Ghana establishes an official Physical and Medical Rehabilitation Department”. Until then, she will continue advocating for public health through her work with the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital as well as independent initiatives.
Once the Mandela Washington Fellowship ends, Dr. Tannor will capitalize on her time in the states by participating in a month-long medical observership program at the Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Hospital in Allentown, Pennsylvania before returning to her work and family in Ghana. Her accumulation of experiences will provide a comparative view of the American rehabilitation industry.
Although, she has made significant gains for advancing rehabilitation medical services in her primary place of work, she understands that it is not enough and more must be done throughout the country. Therefore, she is working towards the development of the Step Out Foundation which will offer programs and services that can be replicated on a larger scale. This foundation will gather volunteers who are willing to put forth the needed resources to address the nation’s shortcomings.
Dr. Tannor keeps her family as key motivators, listing her role models as her husband and father, who inspire her to strive for greatness and see tasks through to completion. When she was deciding which direction to take her career, she considered pediatrics and physical therapy, yet her husband, who is also a medical doctor, advised her to pursue a track that is less common. Therefore, because “it was something new and [she] loves challenges”, she decided to go for rehabilitation.
Her lust for challenges has proven to be a major part of her work due to the underappreciation of rehabilitation services in Ghana. As a devoted Christian, Dr. Tannor credits her success to God and says that when she encounters challenges she prays and always overcomes.
With her mindsight, qualifications, and the grace of God, I believe that Dr. Tannor will continue to accomplish amazing feats while representing an emerging class of African leaders. For more information on Dr. Abena Tannor you can follow her on Twitter at; @AbbyTannor
Obafemi Ogunleye is an international educationist with a research focus on African development. His writing seeks to raise awareness and understanding of issues concerning the globalization of higher education and ways in which programs support cross-cultural exchange.