Account of my Village Healthcare Experience
Sarah Turner: Physiotherapy - Brighton University
I spent 5 days during my 1-month stay in Ghana at a small fisherman’s village called Akwidaa, a one and a half hours drive away from the Work the World House in Takoradi.
After dropping off our luggage at the house and meeting the family, we were brought straight to the general clinic where we met Jeff and Wisdom, two nurses. From the minute I arrived I was put to work doing administrative work, taking patient’s blood pressures, temperatures and their weight. Jeff would then diagnose the patient and prescribe the specific medication. People of all ages came to the clinic. Pregnant women came in for vaccinations; families for family planning advice, children with fever, vomiting and abdominal pain, and elderly with joint pain.
Most patients that came in were diagnosed with Malaria. Family planning is a service that has become very popular at the clinic with great emphasis placed on a variety of different birth control methods and sexual/health education.
In the afternoons after work, we experienced different village activities such as a village orientation of old and new Akwidaa on the first day, a walk to the Green Turtle Lodge through the village and along the beach, a canoe trip through the mangrove river (where we saw monkeys, toucans, crabs and many different birds) and an afternoon on Eliza Bay in the sun.
One morning Jeff and I went to a nearby village for a health outreach programme. After walking through the village and saying hello to the community, we gathered under a roof and set up our working area. Women with their children came and handed in their health books and one by one the children were called forward to get weighed. I would then document it in their children growth books. It was the norm for a child’s weight to drop 2-5kg since their last health check most probably due to Malaria. The younger babies were placed in a bag and hung from a hanging scale. Afterwards specific vaccinations and vitamin A doses were given to those children who needed them.
The food that was cooked by one of the ladies from the Green Turtle Lodge was delicious. We experienced many different traditional Ghanaian foods: such as fufu, banku and rice ball in groundnut soup with goat or fish. As we were in a fishing village, we mostly ate fish that had been caught in old Akwidaa.
Some mornings when it was quiet at the general clinic, I went to see Rachel, a midwife student, in the maternity ward where mothers with general diseases came and children were assessed. 6-week postnatal appointments were also carried out. We asked to be contacted by the general clinic and the maternity clinic in case of any night emergencies and on the last night, Auntie Aggie, the midwife called us at 1 a.m. in the morning for a delivery. I was able to see my first delivery, which was a great experience.
My village experience has definitely broadened my understanding of what it is like to work with different health professionals especially nurses and midwifes and I would definitely do it again as part of my month in Ghana.