Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Saturday, May 14, 2011
The Muoho D.C. Primary School sits to the right of the dusty, pockmarked road between Humjibre and Bekwai. (Go here for a map of the Humjibre area) As you drive past you can often hear the high pitch chorus of recitations taking place inside the classrooms, even over the cacophonous rattle of the taxis streaming by. It was here that the GHEI health staff conducted their latest hand washing outreach on May 10.
Mensah Gyapong and Aggie Obeng prepared their lesson under the generous shade of a mango tree. The headmaster summoned the children out of their classrooms, and dozens marched towards the shade in an instance of surreal order and calm. With a little murmuring, they circled GHEI staff.
The lesson was straightforward: how you must wash before and after meals, after using the toilet, and simply running your hands underwater is not enough, you have to scrub with soap...fundamentals that many of us take for granted. This was, however, a review for many. When prompted, the group immediately launched into a boisterous recital of 'The Hand Washing Song' in Twi. “…And now in English?” Giggles rippled through the mob, but one brave young man strode to the center of the group, and performed well in front of his teachers and the whole school. ("Soap and water/soap and water/wash your hands/ rub them well together...")
Now the hand washing exercise begins, and the pretense of order crumbles a little, with students jockeying for a chance at impressing with their proper hand washing skills. Just as it looked like chaos loomed, the stern headmaster stood in the eye of the storm and calmed them all. Students lined up again, this time in lines of their respective levels and ages. With Aggie and Mensah supervising, dozens of hands were wet, great bubbles of lather built, and clean hands were rinsed and dried.
Afterward, the students gathered again in the shade for a presentation. The two hand washing monitors of the school were lauded and presented with two bars of soap. Proper hand washing is important, and these two boys promised to continue to be an example.
While the entire event swung from rigid order to joyous quasi-anarchy, the effectiveness of the message was intact. Walking among the playing students on lunch break after the demonstration, many students approached me, palms raised, saying “Look at my hands! They are clean!”
-Chad McCordic, GHEI Communications
Monday, May 9, 2011
GHEI helped me find the Boston Children’s group, [a team of pediatric surgeons who come to Ghana yearly to provide training and free surgery] and they helped me get Abigail’s surgery for free. Before the second surgery, she was sick all the time. But now, she can do anything—running, playing, going to school, fetching water. She never complains about feeling tired or sick.”
Lily Ofori-Amanfo: 18 years, currently attends Senior High School in Kumasi
Sabina: 10 years, currently attends DC Primary School in Humjibre
Boston Children’s Team, a team of pediatric surgeons who come to Ghana yearly to provide training and free surgery, and she was able to get the surgery in October 2009. Health-wise she has improved more than any other surgery recipient I have worked with, and her improvement has been very rapid. She is very active now and she has gained weight. I always see her playing with her peers, when I walk home from work.”
Portia Adjei Nipa: 7 years, currently attends Primary School in Dansokrom
Boston Children’s Hospital team. Since then, Portia has shown marked improvement: before the surgery, you could never get this child to smile no matter what you did; now, she smiles all the time.”
For more information on Portia’s story, see our earlier post 6-Year Old Receives Life-Saving Heart Surgery.
For more information on GHEI's advocacy efforts, click here
--Natalie Rich, GHEI Communications Director
Thursday, May 5, 2011
The GHEI grounds in Humjibre are located at a cross point between an elementary school and high school. So every morning I could hear school children in the yard playing before the start of classes and reciting lesson plans during the school day. People worked hard during the day, but you still saw people out on the street or at the local drink spots in the evening.
We also held one at Chirano Health Center, where we hosted one training course, with about 10 attendees, and we used the same curriculum that we presented at Bibiani.
Other health issues included inguinal hernias, tachypnea and poor oral intake. When treating patients we also had to be aware that there were health alternatives that the parents may attempt to utilize instead. For example, we diagnosed an inguinal hernia in an 8-month-old male and informed his mother that he would require at minimum a surgical consult in case it became worst in the future. She stated that she was planning on going to an herbalist to see if he would have any medicine to make the hernia go away. Allopathic medical management is often times in competition with other alternative medical practices and caregivers.
What was the biggest challenge of your work here?
Photos courtesy of Beatrice Tetteh, M.D.