The twin cities of Sekondi and Takoradi represent the third largest urban area in Ghana with a population of about 400,000. Although Ghana represents one of the more developed countries in Africa, the city of Sekondi is considered urban, poor. Its people suffer many of the health conditions that are often associated with limited economic resources and poor access to clean water. These health conditions include but not limited to malnutrition, dysentery, malaria, and HIV/AIDS.
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Ghana Health Mission
More than a decade ago, Leda McKenry, a nursing professor at UMass, met the Rev. Robert Andoh, of International Missions Foundation and a native of Ghana, while waiting in an airport. Their conversation led to McKenry asking what she could do to help. He cited a need for vaccinations and health screenings, so in 1997 she flew to Ghana with a team of nursing students. Each year, Ghana Health Mission (GHM) partners with Rev. Andoh to provide primary health care to the people of Sekondi. The number of patients seen in the clinic is contingent on the number of health professionals/students participating. On average, the clinic sees about 1,500 patients over a two-week period. For many, GHM represents the only source of health care that is available to them. Moreover, community health education that is integral to healthcare delivery and often void in underserved areas serves a greater need as the patients themselves disseminate this valuable information to family and friends.
A typical day at the International Mission clinic begins at 0800. The waiting line begins to form at 0400 with some people walking miles for a clinic spot. The patients are given at clinic card and wait patiently until their number is called. They are first seen in triage where a history and pertinent screenings are obtained. From there, consistent with a primary care model they are assessed by a provider whereby appropriate treatments and recommendations are made. There is also an onsite pharmacy available for the patients. This year, Regi Robnett from the department of Occupational Therapy and 6 OT students will provide something very unique to the clinic – rehabilitation services for persons with functional disabilities, a population often marginalized in developing countries.