The end of the road

catherine-on-ghana-trip

Where the road ends, there is a footpath that leads to an isolated community in Ghana.

There are people who live there. They live in remote and rural communities and are some of the estimated 2 billion people lacking access to medicine. HPIC and our partners want to do more to help them.

In November HPIC’s Catherine Sharouty travelled to Ghana and visited two regions: Ashanti and the Volta. Some clinics and health facilities are tucked far away and the people who depend on them can feel forgotten. Catherine and a local partner had to get out of their car and walk in to the community by a narrow dirt path to reach one facility.

“I grew up on this continent and I have seen poverty, but there were many firsts for me on this trip,” she said. “Daily life is very tough here. Seeing how they live and how they cook- wow. Kids walk for 1 hour or more to get to school and when school is over, they sell fruit.”

Added to the difficult conditions is the fact that it is very hot and humid. “Where I visited was mountainous and very green- quite beautiful actually. You see a lot of plantations growing crops like plantains. The roads are red dirt, like in Prince Edward Island, and there are a lot of holes. Most people do not drive and some have motorcycles. In fact, for the pregnant women or anyone who needs to get to a hospital, travelling by motorcycle is often the best – and sometimes the only – option. People living in the remote areas are living mostly from subsistence farming and there are many artisans and seamstresses.

And yet everyone has a phone and they get their news via Facebook and social media. From one region to another, people may not understand each other because there are many local languages and dialects. Only those who have gone further in school speak English.

And yet, Catherine found much reason to hope and enjoyed meeting the local partners and people. The Ghanaian nurses and midwives are very impressive too. “They wear these pressed and perfectly clean green and white uniforms and they arrive at work on time, with a smile and a positive attitude. And yet when I see their workload, the number of patients and the lack of equipment and medicines to do their job, I am impressed by their motivation and perseverance to do the best for their patients.”

Catherine undertook a needs assessment of the maternal and child health services in the Amansie West District of the Ashanti region. “The needs are huge…infrastructure, supply chain and training needs… Yet, all health facility staffs were enthusiastic about and supportive of any program that will enhance their performance and build up their capacity.”

Catherine also visited HPIC MamaCare project partner in the Volta region. “Together, we will be training and equipping 50 community midwives and community nurses, who are of vital importance to remote rural communities in Ghana.

The community midwives get paid with gifts or services. “They are mostly providing the service as a good deed for their neighbours. But they are present and they have experience and with some training and knowledge about when to call for more experienced help, we can save mothers and babies.”

HPIC will be sending staff to Ghana again in 2018 to initiate other health projects.

“There are so many needs- the shelves are mostly bare and the pharmacies can use help to sort and manage the stock that they have. There is much work to be done and we are grateful to the partners who have committed to do this important work.”