20 Jul The Different Dimensions of Global Health in Ghana
Posted at 17:35h in West AfricaSix weeks have come and gone and our early summer Global Health trip to West Africa is over! Our trip took us through some of Ghana’s busiest city streets, its vast and beautiful mountains and forests, the red-earth and clay roads of the north, and along its breathtaking coast. Along the way we made great friends and got to learn about the lifestyle, culture, food, drink, dance, and everything in between. Our work and volunteer placements ranged from the surgical theater at the National Cardiothoracic Center in Accra to the makeshift football pitch at Horizon Children’s Centre (HCC) in the Upper East Region. During our independent travel time, we each managed to travel from the northern-most region to the western gold coast. Some of us saw the expansive Mole National Park on the way, while others chose to extend their volunteer placements in Kumasi and Accra. We all met in Princess Town – a dreamy fishing village in the western part of the coast – to have a few days of rest, relaxation, and a disorientation from the mind-boggling six week adventure that had just transpired. Korle-Bu teaching hospital. There were opportunities to observe, interview, and learn from professionals in several units of the large campus, including the Cardiothoracic Unit, the Obstetrics and Gynaecology Department, the Plastics Unit, and several wards and surgical theaters. Several afternoons were devoted to putting our observations into context by having presentations given from several national health initiatives, including the National AIDS Control Programme and the National Tuberculosis Control Board. These info sessions were given in an informal question and answer format, allowing everyone to pose specific questions regarding their interest in the healthcare system of Ghana. Of course, we managed to balance our work and play in the capital city, as there are many things to do around town. Wednesday nights were devoted to reggae, a balmy live music party on Labadi Beach, full of singing, dancing, and lounging. From Accra, we made our way to Kumasi, where we were fortunate to pursue a partnership with the Kaleo Area Women’s Development Association (KAWDA). After a friendly info session from husband and wife Albert and Eveleyn, the group spent four days traveling to nearby villages to interview and mingle with women who are members of the KAWDA network. Evelyn, who joined us on these treks, made it overwhelmingly clear that our roles as KAWDA volunteers were widely appreciated. A big pat on the back to the team for developing this relationship further with KAWDA! And to celebrate their time and energy spent in Kumasi, the early summer team caught a World Cup Qualifying match at the city’s stadium, where Ghana pummeled Lesotho 7-0! Go Black Stars! On the long road from Kumasi to Sandema, we were able to watch the scenery change from a hectic metropolitan hub to the flatter and somewhat less-traveled north. Soon we made it to Bolgatanga, the capital of the Upper East Region, only to join another car on the way to Sandema. Having returned to this community since OG’s pilot trip in 2007, Sandema is always very welcoming to the OG teams – so welcoming, in fact, that the boys from HCC gave us a song and dance routine to say a “proper hello.” In response, the energetic early summer team made an impromptu dance routine with a drum and a few brave girls who got the crowd moving! The following week was spent in several positions, ranging from the Sandema District Hospital (not surprisingly, a different place than Korle-Bu!) to HCC to the Sandema Disabilities Group. With each participant in a position that suited them best, the Sandema portion of the trip unfolded as planned: long strolls to town from our warm guest house, mornings and afternoons full of learning and working with doctors, nurses, the boys from HCC, and Gilbert at the Disabilities Center. There was plenty of opportunities to cool off under a huge baobab tree when the afternoon sun became too hot, just as there was plenty of time to sit on the roof of our guest house and watch the lightning storms in the distance. As soon as Independent Travel Time started, several participants decided to remain in Sandema – not surprisingly so, as the community is hard to leave! A group of girls left for the Mole National Park, while a few others made the trek to Accra for some more time with the host families and at Korle-Bu.