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Final Reflection on Ghana

I have been back in the US for four days, and I wanted to do a final post on my experience in Ghana. My month spent in Cape Coast was life-changing and eye-opening. The organization that I went through, Child Family Health International (CFHI), works with their students to help us understand how healthcare is delivered in our host country. Instead of going for a week and providing medical care through a volunteer organization, we work with local physicians in the hospital to experience healthcare delivery on a day-to-day basis. As you know from my previous posts, seeing the healthcare disparities in Ghana and in many African countries was heart-breaking. I have spoken with many of my friends since returning about my experience, and whether they come from a medical background or not, they realize the differences in healthcare delivery and resources. No matter where I was working in the hospital, all of my fellow physicians knew exactly what they should be doing. The problem in Ghana is…

More Hospital Medicine

Hello, friends! I am almost done with my third week here in Cape Coast, Ghana, and it has been a very eye-opening experience. Last week, I shared a little about the differences in medical care here in Ghana versus the US. I wanted to share a little more about the hospital system here in Ghana to provide some additional perspective. The wards are set up in each building with male and female medical and surgical wards being separate. These wards consist of three to four large rooms with 6-10 beds in each room. There are 2-3 isolation rooms in each ward for those patients that have some kind of infectious disease process. There are private rooms available for an additional cost, but usually patients who want these go to the private hospital rather than the public government-funded hospitals. One of the buildings holds the ICU and dialysis unit. The ICU has five beds. Patients who require an ICU stay usually have to wait due to limited availability, but they are also required to pay up-fr…

Limited Resources

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Hi all! Miss you all so much, but I am still embracing the new experiences and journeys halfway across the world. This week I started my rotation at the hospital. I will be doing one week of Internal Medicine and two weeks in the Pediatric ward. I posted a picture below of the Cape Coast Teaching Hospital. It looks much smaller than it is. The main hospital which is what you see holds the Accident and Emergency Ward (A & E ward) and outpatient services. Behind the main hospital are the various wards. There are male and female wards, a children's ward, surgical wards, OBGYN ward, and a delivery suite. I have shadowed residents during rounds where the disease processes have ranged from Deep Vein Thromboses (DVTs) to Malaria to HIV to Meningitis. Africa overall has a lot more communicable diseases than we actually see in the US. For example, during my year and a half of clinical rotations in the US, I have never actually seen meningitis. There are 4-5 cases in the hospital in Cap…

Elmina and Cape Coast Castle

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Hello, friends! Today started week #2 in Ghana, and I am still enjoying myself. On Saturday, I went to Elmina Castle and Cape Coast Castle to learn a little about the history of Ghana. The castles I am referring to are historical landmarks that stand in memory of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Ghana was one of the main countries where African men and women were taken from their homes, imprisoned, tortured, and worse. Once captured, the African men and women were placed in dungeons in these castles to wait upwards of three months on the ship to the New World. While waiting, women were picked over and raped by the governors of these castles. If they were found pregnant, they were actually taken out of the castle to give birth, and these mixed children were given homes and schooling. In these dungeons, there was little light and ventilation. If anyone tried to escape, they were taken to an even smaller room with even less ventilation where they were not given food or water. Once they ent…

Week One Recap

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It has been an entire week since I sat at JFK airport anxiously awaiting my flight to Ghana. It has been a long and enlightening week. As you've learned from earlier posts, this week I worked in a small community clinic called a CHPS compound (Community-Based Health Planning and Service). In these clinics, parents bring their children in each month for vaccinations and weigh-ins, women come in for family planning, and patients who are sick come to find answers. The sicknesses vary from acute viral gastroenteritis to malaria to high blood pressure. If something is serious and needs to be seen by a physician, then the nurses refer them to a district hospital. These are small community hospitals of 50-60 beds that can handle slightly more than a CHPS compound. Lastly there are regional and teaching hospitals that can handle almost anything from dialysis to surgeries and lots of things in between. I learned yesterday that there are only five teaching hospitals in the entire nation of …

Exploring the Community of Brofoyedur

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Yesterday, I had the opportunity to explore some of the community with the nurses. A couple of the nurses from the clinic went out into the community stopping at every house to check and see if the children were up to date on immunizations and vitamin supplementation. It's amazing to me that every child has their "weigh-in" card, and for the most part they keep up with it. By going out into the community, the nurses told me they get higher percentages of immunization overall. The kids are not used to seeing white people, so I got many stares and many of the children would come up and start a conversation with me. As most of you know, one of my favorite populations to work with is kids, so I loved seeing this and getting to interact with the children. Many of them would call me "Obruni" which means foreigner but is the common term they use for white person. I really enjoyed going into the community and seeing the families in their homes. Their homes are generall…

Orientation and Day #1

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Akwaaba, friends! (Welcome!) Today is day three in Ghana, and I am absolutely loving it. I am learning much about the Ghanaian culture and healthcare system. Yesterday, I got oriented to the Cape Coast area (I'm still a little lost...haha), but overall I am making it through. I learned a little of the Cape Coast language. For example, your Ghanaian name is based on the day of the week you were born. I was born on a Monday, and my Ghanaian name is Adwoa. I am learning pieces of the language, but it is hard to pick up. During orientation around the city, my local host Geegy took me to the beach and the castle in Cape Coast. We did not go inside the castle for time sake, but I am planning to go on Saturday when Geegy has gone to pick up another student in Accra. The beach is beautiful, but the waves are much bigger than those in the US (gulf coast or Atlantic). Below is a picture of me at the beach.

This week I am working at a "weigh-in" clinic in one of the local communiti…