The travel to Ghana was eventful. We didn’t arrive in Sekondi until 5 p.m. on Monday following several barriers with air travel that included a cancellation in Boston and a long delay in NYC. In the end, our arrival was 2 1/2 days later than originally planned. The students, although disappointed were understanding and gracious. We met up with the Utah contingency in Accra Monday morning and after a 5-hour bus ride to Sekondi, we are finally here!
Day one in the clinic went well. Because the students were so exhausted following the long, arduous travel, we opted to set up the clinic early Tuesday morning complete with triage, 4 provider stations, a full service pharmacy, a waiting area for the patients, as well as a play area for the children. We saw 51 patients with varying health problems. We were also able to make some referrals to Dr. Regi Robnett and the Occupational Therapy students.
As the clinic began, a participant and UNE alum, Jen Lockman, went with a community worker to exchange money needed for the clinic and purchase needed medication at the chemist. Although many medications are limited in Ghana, certain anti-malarials and de-worming medications are much cheaper.
Following the clinic, most of the students were accompanied by community health workers into Sekondi’s sister city, Takoradi to visit the market and shop for fabric. It was very apparent that the people here have rarely seen so many lighter-skinned people. There is a local seamstress that is known to sew beautiful garments for the students from African batiks and tie dye textiles.
The International Mission, where Ghana Health Mission’s clinic runs and the students live for this immersion is also hosting a spiritual revival which adds to the rich cultural experience.
Day two in the clinic went well. We saw 74 patients of all ages presenting with a variety of health conditions. Several referrals were made for national health insurance, a new government program whereby participants pay a premium for health care services. In years past Ghana Health Mission paid for actual referrals and surgeries. Now we pay to enroll people in the insurance program.
The OT students did triage to help out the nursing staff. In addition we gave out all our reading glasses (at least 30 pair over two days), worked on balance and mobility issues, vision screening, and various exercises for various problems. Unfortunately it seems like people with disabilities might be unable to get out into the community, so we really did not see many disabled people in clinic. We certainly noted how difficult it was to negotiate the terrain in town (trenches, 18 inch drop offs, rocks, poor lighting at night, etc). We still have our full array of crutches, walkers, and one wheelchair, but we have been assured that these can be used at the hospital by the PT, Hannah Napier, a native of Sekondi and a member of the church, who is going to have an OT contingent by her side for the next 4 clinic days.