Monday, March 3, 2008

Visiting a Clinic in Ghana

We woke up early to head to breakfast and a meeting in the mess hall. We were surprised to find a warm breakfast of made to order eggs, assorted local breads, coffee and of course the all important water. It was great way to begin the mission. After a meeting with our project coordinator we headed off to the Manhean Clinic in Tema. The drive to Tema was our first real look at Ghana since we had arrived so late the night before. What a beautiful country. It is truly a developing nation. The roads are good; there are homes and retail buildings being built (slowly) everywhere, women, men and children carry items for sale or from place to place balanced on their heads and music can be heard everywhere you go and there are goats on the side of the roads grazing on anything they can find. Women have brightly colored clothes made of wonderfully patterned cloth and a lot of them carry their babies swaddled close to their body in the cloth.

We arrived to the clinic in Tema, which is a much less developed city, and found one new brightly colored new yellow building on the grounds across from the clinic. The yellow building has no furniture in it but it will be the nurse educators’ classroom. Mercy, a nurse at Manhean, gave us a tour of the clinic. The grounds of the clinic smell a little like a sewer and there are goats roaming freely. It is a U-shaped concrete building without a/c and patients upon patients waiting in the heat to receive treatment. The treatment room is the size of a small office, the maternity ward is a room of 6 small beds with cots, and the scale used for weighing infants is rusted and much of the equipment is old and needs replacing. Because Ghana is a developing nation it still does not have the funds to provide some the basic medical supplies and medicines we have in the United States.

Mercy went on to show us the nutrition center which was a small wood building with two rooms. In one room sat a man grinding corn for corn meal that is combined with supplements. Every Thursday women arrive at the clinic where they are given two kilos of the corn meal to feed their children so they have a more nutritious diet. Mercy, told us they try to feed the children who come in because many times they suffer from malnutrition. While we were standing there a goat and chicken came by both feeding on stuff on the ground.

After our visit to the clinic we spent part of the afternoon trying to exchange money, visiting an internet cafĂ© to get in touch with our families and then came home to a nice home cooked Ghanaian dinner. While we will be provided breakfast and dinner in the mess hall each day, for lunch we have a selection of Meals Ready to Eat or MREs. MREs are used by the military when out in the field. They are essentially a complete meal in a bag with tons of calories; I believe the bag said 1,200+ per meal. Everything is preserved in cartons in such a way that they don’t require refrigeration or heat but they do come with a just add water heater that is optional if you want a hot meal. Today, I opened up the chicken with salsa MRE. I only ate the Spanish rice and the crackers with jalapeno cheese spread. I needed someone to show me how to use the heater and I still almost burned myself. The whole package contained chicken in a cardboard carton, Spanish rice, M&M’s, a shortbread cookie, crackers, jalapeno cheese spread, drink mix to make your own mocha chino and iced tea. They’re quite an interesting product.

Tomorrow begin the lessons at Manhean taught by the nurse educators and also the midwifery classes on the USS Swift. I will be heading with the nurse midwives to the USS swift where the nurse midwives—Robin and Sue—will be teaching 34 students midwifery techniques.

--Marisol Euceda

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