by Work the World

Mairead and I spent a week living in the village of Abura, about 45 minutes from Takoradi. The Kombet family became our family during the week that we spent living in their home.

Claudia and Dominica were the little characters in the family. They were always eager to greet us, dance, play games, and often ended the night curled up asleep in our arms. Francis and Obed were always interested in playing football (soccer) and volleyball. As the more mature, responsible, older siblings, they were often found helping with the cooking, running to the market, or doing other important tasks around the compound.

Comfort and Mr. Kombet made us feel like we’d found our second home.

Comfort would leave for the rubber plantations around 4 am, then return on time to make us lunch and dinner. The food was plentiful and delicious, and I was rarely able to finish a meal.

Mr. Kombet was always around - walking us to and from the clinic, cooking us breakfast, and showing us around town. They did everything they could to make us feel at home. The interest they show in each of their new ‘kids’ extends far beyond the week spent in Abura. Throughout the week they mentioned several of their kids - reminiscing about their time in Ghana and discussing what they were up to now - and there were 16 others before us!

My experience in the clinic was interesting but also frustrating in that is was very different to what I have been taught at home. Physical examination or use of a stethoscope was rarely a part of a clinic visit and it seemed doctors were quick to prescribe anti-malarials or antibiotics without further testing. One nurse suggested that patients often feel they have to make use of their health insurance – feigning symptoms to get a supply of drugs.

It concerned me that if over prescription or feigned conditions continues, drug resistance in Ghana is going to be a problem in the very near future. Educating doctors and nurses about this could help slow the spread of resistance, but even that seems to be an insurmountable task.

One very positive thing was that I also had the opportunity to deliver the medical supplies that I brought from Canada. Thanks to Health Partners International and the Canadian Medical and Dental Society, I was able to bring a few thousand dollars worth of medications to be used at the Abura clinic. Dr. Gaul in Calgary also provided me with several boxes of gloves to use while in Ghana, and I was able to leave the remaining supplies behind for the staff to use. The donations were greatly appreciated by the staff, and will be used to help those who need it most in the Abura area.

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