Global Health in Ghana (Cape Coast)
This program occurs in one of the most culturally significant areas in Africa, known as Cape Coast, located in the central region of Ghana. It is home to a dark past as it was once known to be the largest slave-trading center in Africa. It is home to Elmina and Cape Coast Castles which are the legacy of the trans-Atlantic slave trade and are one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites. However, today, Cape Coast is regarded as a very laid back fishing port home to scenic landscapes, beautiful sandy beaches, historic landmarks, crumbling colonial buildings, and coastal forts and castles. The vibrant energy among its people and culture allows Cape Coast to be one of the most fascinating places.
Apart from being part of the tale in the history of the slave trade, Ghana (formerly known as the Gold Coast) is recognised as the first sub-Saharan African country to gain its independence from European colonisation in the twentieth century. This is one of the landmarks of the liberation struggle occurring then in Africa and it set the pace for other countries in the region to follow. Ghana pioneered the road to empowerment by taking on full responsibility for its leadership and growth in order to improve the health and lives of its people towards necessary social and economic development. However, its current development indices, although still quite progressive, do not put the country at the forefront according to data from the World Bank and other development agencies.
A different kind of struggle exists today due to external/foreign debts, an overburdened National Health Insurance System (NHIS) with a recurring budget deficit, issues of lack of transparency, and pockets of corruption. Another important issue is the volatility of developmental projects which occurs due to the changing political parties as a result of a shift in the priorities and agenda-setting in a progressive democratic system. In addition, certain socio-cultural issues and archaic traditional customs also put vulnerable people such as women and youth at risk of abuse and exploitation of various forms. Some Important aspects such as access to optimum health care, good quality education (both formal and informal), food security, human rights, the concept of equality and equity, availability of income-generating opportunities are all important in empowering vulnerable populations in other to achieve the greatest health, wellbeing and development
CFHI works with diverse partners in Cape Coast that provide students the opportunity to explore clinical or public health themes during their program. There are two tracks available for students to choose from: Clinical Track (CT) and Public Health and Social Development Track (PHSDT). In the CT, participants rotate at a teaching hospital in Ghana with various departments and subspecialties. In the PHSDT, join the Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana, participating in outreach programs focused on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights education. Please see the full description of each track in the "Clinical Rotations and Public Health Placements" section.
Clinical Track (CT)
The Cape Coast Teaching Hospital
During this track, you will rotate at a large tertiary teaching hospital located in the coastal Central region of Ghana. Established in early 1939, this metropolitan hospital served as the regional hospital before its transformation to a teaching hospital for training doctors and other professional medical, allied health, and nursing staff. The Cape Coast Teaching Hospital offers a variety of rotations in major departments, including associated subspecialty units. However, rotations will primarily be in Physiotherapy, Internal medicine, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Pediatrics with a Neonatal Intensive Unit, Surgery, and Emergency Medicine. There are additional units students can explore upon request. Please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org to request a different rotation if these don't fit your interest.
You will be assigned to one department during your four-week program. Participants staying longer have the opportunity to join other rotations. Please use the form "placement preferences" in your CFHI dashboard to share your selection.
Public Health and Social Development Track
The PHSDT track is designed to expand your understanding of public health and civil society initiatives.
Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana (PPAG) Cape Coast Clinic
Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana (PPAG) is the leading Non-Governmental Organization providing Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) services in Ghana. It is a recognised member of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) with a mission to enhance the quality of life by providing comprehensive Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) information, education and services to all persons, especially the youth and vulnerable groups in the country. PPAG's work complements Ghana's national efforts to provide healthcare and development to its citizens. It comprises various health practitioners, from midwives, nurses, Obstetrics and Gynecology Specialists to other SRH experts who offer safe motherhood initiatives from guidance and counseling on fertility and SRH issues, family planning services, and antenatal care. It provides a male-inclusive space and services to everyone, including young people and the elderly. In addition, PPAG has a long history of leadership in Family Planning programs in Ghana and has pioneered many projects, including Family Life Education (FLE) for the Youth, Male and Female Clinics, and the integration of Family Planning into Community Development Projects. This organization also assists national efforts to improve the socio-economic and political life of the population. It also promotes families' physical and mental health, especially the youth, through positive sexual behaviors. In addition, it promotes better health and nutrition of families, especially children and women, initiating and promoting educational and other programs aimed at responsible family life for the youth.
Students will engage with PPAG through their local clinic in Cape Coast and join their outreaches on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights education and services. Please note that public health/community outreach activities do not occur every month of the year and depend on the local realities. If you are only joining the program to engage in such experiences, please check in with CFHI at email@example.com to ensure it is available during your program dates.
Community Health-Based Planning Services "CHPS” compounds
CHPS compounds are the first level of primary care in the Ghana Health system, usually located in remote and indigenous communities and staffed with community health workers and nurses. CHPS is a national strategy for delivering essential community-based health services and primarily provides planning services to communities in resource-poor and remote areas. CHPS strategy involves community participation, empowerment, ownership, gender considerations, and volunteerism, including access to universal healthcare, social and human capital for health system development/ delivery, and health services delivered. The services provided at this include treatment of minor ailments, provision of basic health care services, non-invasive services, health promotion and preventive services. It also includes Maternal and Child Health Services.
Participants in the public health track might be involved in these first levels of healthcare by having the opportunity to visit, observe, and understand how the CHPS compounds work in Ghana. They would have the opportunity to learn from community health workers and nurses who work in various remote and indigenous areas where they run child welfare clinics and offer primary care services for the treatment of ailments, health education, and awareness outreach programs in the coastal areas. Community health nurses and workers are stationed in CHPS compounds and do home and community visits which students can join. Participants will understand the integration of systems and services at this lowest level along the continuum of care and the various challenges faced by the system in improving health outcomes.
In addition to providing your clinical placement preferences directly to CFHI in the application process, we encourage you to communicate these to your local team in Ghana one month before arrival. Please note that while we will do our best to tailor the program to your interests, your flexibility, humble attitude, and willingness to experience rotations that may be outside of your immediate interest area will serve you well in this program. Not all rotations and placements are available at all times.
With secluded beaches lined with beautiful fishing boats, historic sites, and friendly locals, the region of Cape Coast is one of the most fascinating places to be in Ghana. Known as a tranquil fishing port, the city of Cape Coast serves as the capital of both the Cape Coast Metropolitan District and Central Region of south Ghana. Additionally, the city is about a 3-hour drive away from Accra, Ghana’s capital. Along with its rich cultural history, Cape Coast is home to serene and picturesque hills, valleys, and streams. The region boasts of tropical climate throughout the year with cooler months between June and August.
Things to Do
Considered U.S. First Lady, Michelle Obama’s ancestral home, Cape Coast is one of the major tourist destinations in West Africa. The historical importance behind this city is reflected through its many slave trade castles and forts along the coast with guided tours informing the stories, experiences, and history of the slaves. Significant sites include the World Heritage Site- Cape Coast Castle and Elmina Castle; both serving as thought-provoking memorials. Kakum National Park is considered one of the main attractions for tourists who visit the city. Experience the forest’s wildlife consisting of atleast 40 species of mammals including elephants and primates, 200 species of birds, and over 400 species of butterflies. The park contains an exciting and adventurous Canopy Walk tourists can walk on, which is suspended 30-40 meters high amongst the trees with 7 different connected bridges all throughout the forest. Additionally, enjoy the tropical beaches and resorts along the coast, with other attractions including the Cape Coast Centre for National Culture, Monkey Forest Resort, and many more. Visitors can also learn about medicinal trees and shrubs found in the forest.
Accommodations & Homestays
You will live at the Marmon J. Tete House. You may have a roommate, depending on program enrollment. There will be basic amenities (a fan, etc.) in your room at no cost. Some rooms will have air conditioning but will only be used at a weekly surcharge, which must be paid before use. There is no Wi-Fi in your room, but you will be provided smart phones which can give you internet access. You will have hotspot internet from the sim of this phone service. There may be Wi-Fi at the library or various sites at the hospital. There are often electricity problems in Cape Coast, so please bring a flashlight. There are affordable plug converters here, but we always recommend having one specific for smartphones/laptops, which you can get at your device’s retailer. Note that the voltage in the US is 120 mV, and in Ghana, it’s 220 mV, so a voltage converter may be necessary. Showers may not be available due to low water pressure; please be prepared for cold bucket showers, as running water may sometimes be disrupted. There will be storage containers with water during the times such occurs.
Eligibility: Who Can Apply?
This program is open to all pre-medical, pre-public health, medical students, residents, interns, nurses, and any other individuals interested in the field of medicine, general and allied healthcare, and public health. Non-students are also eligible. To confirm you are eligible, please read CFHI's general eligibility requirements.
Language Required: English
Ghana is a multicultural and diverse country with over 70 seventy tribal groups and just as many distinct languages spoken. However, Ghana's unifying national official language is English and it is used in government, business and universally for educational instruction. It is spoken and understood fluently by most of the population.
All participants should arrive at the Kotoka International Accra airport on the program start date. Particpants will be picked up by one of the CFHI Local Coordinators and will stay on the day of arrival at the “CFHI Ghana House” located in Mamprobi, Accra. Transportation will be offered to Cape Coast after an on-site orientation in Accra.
All US citizens should apply for a Ghanaian tourist visa in advance. More information will be provided by CFHI after acceptance into the program.
CFHI Program fees include the majority of your on the ground costs. As a nonprofit, CFHI strives to keep fees low and offers fundraising opportunities, scholarships and discounts.
- Guidance from CFHI staff before departure
- Program-specific materials with information on making travel arrangements, visa requirements, recommended immunizations, etc.
- CFHI Local Team: providing instruction, logistical support, and 24/7 emergency response
- Airport pick-up upon arrival and transportation to local lodging with local CFHI representative and one night of lodging in Accra.
- Roundtrip transportation Accra- Cape Coast
- Welcome orientation covering safety, transportation, and other logistics in Cape Coast
- Accommodation and two meals a day in Cape Coast
- Local transportation to and from clinical sites other scheduled program activities in Cape Coast
- Local cell phone with start off credits and internet plan- students must refill at own cost
- Placement and coordination of clinical/public health activities in Cape Coast
- Weekly meetings and lectures on local healthcare system and socio-economic determinants of health
- International emergency medical and evacuation insurance
- Access to CFHI alumni-only LinkedIn group featuring news and career opportunities related to Global Health
- CFHI alumni newsletter highlighting events, resources, and ways to stay involved
Uniquely CFHI, 50% or more of student program fees go directly to the communities they will be visiting, benefiting the local economy at large and specifically underserved health systems. Read more.
Meet the Local Team
Dr. Charles Chineme Nwobu: CFHI Ghana Medical and Program Director
Dr. Charles Chineme Nwobu is a Public Health Physician in Maternal, Adolescent, Reproductive, Sexual and Child Health and a Development Specialist. He holds a Master’s in Public health for development from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and was a student ambassador of this leading institution in public health. He also has a certification in International Development from the prestigious University of Cambridge, UK. He additionally holds a BSc in Medical Sciences and a medical degree (MBChB) from the University of Ghana Medical School. He has experience working in the public and the private health sector in Ghana as Physician - Family/General Practitioner mostly in Maternal and Child Health. He is a strong global health advocate with prior experience working as a regional leader in the global health organisation IFMSA (International Federation of Medical Students Associations) where he served as the IFMSA Regional Coordinator for Africa for two consecutive years and next as the Alumni Relations Support Division Director. He is part of the Junior Doctors Network (JDN) of the World Medical Association (WMA).
Along with serving as CFHI’s Medical and Program Director for Ghana, he also currently serves as a steering and working committee member of an international network known as CHIFA (Child Health and rights Information for All), with the head office based in the U.K. In the African region, he currently serves as one of the chosen consultants in the expert community of the current African Union Youth Envoy. Apart from his passion for public, global health and human rights, he enjoys working out, music, dancing, swimming, traveling, reading good literature, theatre and attending social events.
Georgina Asomah: Local Coordinator
Georgina Asomah is a native of Nadoli in the Upper West Region of Ghana but was born and raised in Cape coast in the Central Region of Ghana. She holds a diploma in Computer Administration/Secretariat from an IT institution in Ghana. She has worked with Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana as Peer Educator and Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights facilitator. She currently serves as Local Coordinator for Cape Coast. Her hobbies include reading, researching, singing, listening to music, and travelling.
What Alumni Say
"...On January 2, 2016 I embarked on a journey that changed my life. From my arrival in Accra to seeing Dr. Charles holding a sign reading “Robin Baker”, I knew I made the right decision. My one month in Ghana was absolutely phenomenal. I connected instantly with the rehab staff, the nurses within the wards, the market women within the waiting areas, patients and their families and even CEO of the hospital. There was an instant exchange of knowledge, resources and culture throughout my experience. The patients, staff and CHFI coordinators all became family - I felt at home. It was that moment that I realized that my calling was to create a platform for allied health clinicians and students (i.e.: occupational therapist, physical therapist and speech language pathologist etc) to participate in global rehabilitation service projects.
I would like to personally thank, Dr. Charles Nwobu for playing such an imperative role in creating a safe, cultivating and enriching experience. Dr. Charles is doing a fabulous job of coordinating and organizing trainee specific projects in Cape Coast and Accra. It was an absolute pleasure working with him and the local staff. Dr. Charles knowledge and insight of the dynamic health care system in Ghana was truly meaningful in understanding the delivery of care. I would like to thank all the members involved in “Letting Ghana Change me” – I am forever grateful..."
-- Robin Baker (MS, OTR/L)
"...I spent the day in the Emergency Department, where I tested my diagnosis and management after doing physical examinations on the patients with the house officer. It was a good experience to be able to discuss patients we saw and what we think they may have, as well as what we will do next for diagnosis and management..." read more on Julia's fascinating blog (week 3).
-- Julia Tanguay (4th year medical student at Rocky Vista University College of Osteopathic Medicine)
The Sustainable Development Goals are a global roadmap set forth by the United Nations General Assembly to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure the well-being of all individuals by the year 2030. This program highlights the following SDGs: