Friday, March 25, 2011

A Medical Clinic for Asikuma

What would you say if I told you that this building was going to be turned into a medical clinic?

It’s a little hard to picture….but not for these 3 masterminds….

Before our time in the village of Asikuma was up we were able to meet with the District Director of Health for the region that includes Asikuma. She was a brilliant woman and our time with her was SO helpful and insightful. One of the most exciting things that we learned was that if we were able to provide a finished structure/building for the village clinic, as well as housing for a doctor, then the government of Ghana would provide and pay for the staff/doctor and possibly even a mid-wife for the clinic. THIS WAS NEWS TO US!!!!! The director of health that we were able to meet with is actually in charge of assigning the different doctors for each clinic in each region. She said there are doctors ready and willing to come to Asikuma if a clinic is built. Unfortunately Asikuma does not have the resources or funds to do this on their own, but having medical care is a huge need for their community. Asikuma is giantly overpopulated, and communicable diseases spread like wildfire. During our time with the villagers I also looked into so many little brown eyes, surrounded by yellowed eye whites due to malaria. I am no doctor, but I noticed that many of these children looked fatigued and sort of drowsy....I wondered if they were getting any sort of medical care or help at all?

To build a medical clinic sounded like a large undertaking to me at first, but it was helpful to remind myself that this is Ghana we’re talking about, not the U.S.!!! For instance, here is a finished health center that we were able to visit in a different town outside of Asikuma:

A health center is actually even a step up from a medical clinic in Ghana. Basically a building structure starts out as a general medical clinic, then if that goes well it can be converted into a health center, then if that goes well it could be converted into a full hospital. The district director of health helped us to understand the building requirements/specifications for a clinic that would be appropriate for Asikuma: basically the doctor needs 1 room to see patients, 1 room designated as a birthing area, a small entry area that can be utilized for a waiting room, and then the doctor also needs a room for his own on-site housing. For our custom home builder, Chris, this ain’t no thang. In fact, he had the drawing plans whipped up for the medical clinic and doctor housing in less than an hour. :)

In my mind, one of the most perfect things about this medical clinic project is that the building and land that are going to be transformed are owned by our friend Nana (chief of Asikuma and father to our previous host students). He has graciously donated this area to us for our projects because it obviously in turn highly benefits his village. I must say, Nana might be the most excited out of all of us. He kept mentioning how thankful he is to finally be able to do something for his village that will have a lasting impact. The building that will be renovated into the medical clinic actually sits in a perfect place for its purpose. It’s located about ¼ mile walk outside of the hustle and bustle of the street hawkers and road-side vendors in Asikuma. This will give you a mental picture…

The building is nestled right off the right side of the road, in the midst of those trees, before you get to the ‘mountain’. Just perfect. It's an easy walk to the location. Not only that, but the future medical clinic area sits right next to the spot where we hope to eventually have our little children’s haven (I haven’t ever really been fond of the word orphanage so I am not going to call it that anymore). Here’s a picture reminder of that area:

The children’s haven is still on the radar, but will not be part of our Phase I projects in August. I’ll explain why in a later post.

A few other interesting things of note that we learned during our meeting with the medical director:

- If you get sick now in Asikuma, you can get a ride to the nearest emergency clinic for care. There are signs posted throughout the town with the emergency phone number. You need to have the money to pay the driver to get you there. A traveling doctor also comes to Asikuma about once every 7-10 days. However, this doctor is simply a nurse practitioner who helps with pre-natal care and births if the timing is right. She can also care for emergencies or urgent care requests while she is there.

-There is a cost for medical care – but it is very low, described as a mere token.

-Health insurance for kids under age 18 is only 4 cedi per year (on average 1 cedi is equivalent to a little bit less than $1 in the U.S.). This health insurance involves complete coverage. After age 18, it goes to 25 cedi for the first year. Annual renewal costs are tiny.

-Many people are timid to go to clinics. They are concerned the people in the town will talk about them, especially as it relates to family planning (bcp). The medical director suggested the clinic have some other draws to it (internet, tv…) so that people are there for all kinds of reasons. This way their visits there are less interesting to gossips. (This is one of the reasons why we are considering attaching an internet café to the medical clinic as well)

-There is an awesome scholarship program for Ghana medical school for qualifying high school grads. In order to be eligible you must attend high school (there is no free high school education in Ghana – you have to pay tuition) and graduate with ‘high marks’ (grades). Then you go through an application process to attend medical school….if accepted you receive a full scholarship from the Ghanaian government to become a doctor.

Also, since I am on the subject of medical care, I wanted to see if any of you have the resources/ideas that can help a little girl that we met who likely needs some sort of surgery….here is an excerpt from my journal regarding the situation:

As we walked away from Christian’s house we heard a lady shouting for us to come back. We turned around and headed into the direction of the yelling and found a mother sitting outside with her child and motioning us over. At first glance, we could see that this mother’s daughter was born with a hand and foot deformity. The mother did not speak any English, but it was clear that she was asking if we could help her daughter to be healed. We had the boys with us translate a few things for the mother. Jake told the mother that we would take a picture of her daughter and see if we could find a doctor who could help.

Please get in touch with me if you have the resources to help her….

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I still have much more to share with you from our trip, and I will do so next week. Upcoming posts will detail our time at the Beacon House Orphanage, tour of different types of schools in Accra, the specific details for construction work and other items of agenda for our upcoming August trip, a few light-hearted pictures and adventures, and some guest posts from everyone else on the team detailing their personal highlight of the trip! It’s been great reliving our memories with you all!


Mindy said...

It may be reliving for you, but for us, we are drawn like bees to honey at the greatness of the work God is causing you to do! Praise Him!

Kobe Diers said...

Looks awesome. That building looks perfect. Our trip to SL was incredible. Amazing country. I can't get the sites and smells and people out of my head.