Our medical mission to Ghana was based in Effiduase, a rural suburb of Kumasi in southern Ghana. There is a great need for health care volunteers in Ghana as less than 40% of rural Ghanaians have access to any form of health care. Infectious diseases, such as Malaria, Typhoid, and Tuberculosis remain widespread and we were able to see. For these reasons, SGHA chose to volunteer at a local hospital in southern Ghana serving the surrounding community in Effiduase.
14 medical students and Dr. Kwabena Mensah from the University of Oklahoma participated in this medical mission. We assisted local health care professionals in placing IVs, giving injections, dressing wounds, performing physical exams, taking histories, and much more. We were also able to observe and, in some cases, assist in surgeries such as Caesarian sections and hernia and fistula repairs. The terrible effects of malaria in children were all around us as nearly ¼ of the patients admitted to the district hospital were diagnosed with malaria. We also saw many cases of infected diabetic ulcers and were able to treat and dress these wounds. Many of these wounds had grown to sizes that are rarely seen in U.S. hospitals, as patients had waited several weeks to seek medical care due to the long journey required to reach the hospital. We also learned much about the Ghanaian health care system and how great of a sacrifice it is for doctors to stay and practice in Ghana instead of seeking more lucrative careers in Europe or North America.
We’ve included an excerpt from a student journal below, illustrating their experience in Ghana and the impact that it had on them.
"Imagine a small hospital that sees 70,000 patients per year with only three doctors on staff. Imagine a portion of the nurses who haven't been paid in over two years yet are still dedicated to their work. Imagine hospital wards that have no private rooms and may have as many as twenty patients in one room. Despite having seen and experienced these things, I cannot help but remember the extraordinary care that was provided to the patients despite the trials that threatened the success of patient care.
This experience opened my eyes to many health care challenges that exist in developing countries, and it also made me consider some of the health care challenges that are here in Oklahoma. While the challenges may be very different, the goal of medicine remains the same in every place - to give patients the best care possible and to improve their quality of life. I feel that this trip has definitely changed my perspective on medicine, and I know that it will help me to be a better physician in the future." - Amber Liles
We made several donations to our local partners to ensure that our contributions to their communities will be long-lasting and meaningful. First, we made a donation to Blossom Lily Academy, a school that serves indigent children in a suburb of Accra. We were able to attend their graduation ceremony and encouraged the children to continue in their studies, stressing the opportunities that education will provide them.
Second, we donated a washing machine, linens, and many other medical supplies that were greatly needed at the Effiduase District Hospital maternity department.
Third, we were able to give school supplies, clothes, and toys to the children at Westphalian Children’s Home. We are also planning to sponsor the treatment of a young woman there who has Hepatitis B. We hope that these contributions to their communities will be as long lasting as the impression they have left on our lives.