Ghana has a rich cultural history and is one of the most stable and democratic countries in Africa, with vibrant cities and friendly people. Despite its strong economic growth and sound political system, progress is still needed in the quality of healthcare. Ghana has worked tirelessly to improve its maternal and child health indices, including the population’s overall health. However, social and economic conditions have continued to impact people’s health, with the highest disease burden on children.
In the bustling capital city of Accra, participants will have firsthand educational experiences under various themes based on interests and availability. These include maternal and child health, pediatrics, infectious diseases, non-communicable diseases, rehabilitative care in children and adults (in the aspect of Physical and Occupational therapy), and some aspects of Adult Medicine (depending on the unit or site). Other focus areas may be available upon request. Participants have the opportunity to shadow health workers and see how they provide care in a low-resource environment, overcoming challenges such as the healthcare system’s financial and structural constraints and the existing social determinants.
Participants will stay in in dedicated CFHI housing with a Local CFHI coordinator and other CFHI scholars. During free time, participants may have the opportunity to visit various cultural and historical sites and immerse themselves in Ghanaian culture.
Over 2 million people live in Ghana’s bustling capital, Accra, situated along the Atlantic coast of West Africa and spread out over 60 miles. Accra serves as the Greater Accra region’s economic and administrative hub. It also boasts the largest number and variety of nightlife, restaurants and hotels in Ghana. The central business district of Accra contains the city’s main banks and department stores, and an area known as the Ministries, where Ghana’s government administration is concentrated. Ghana has a tropical climate and is hot and humid, especially near the south coast. The ‘dry season’ is from December to April, but that is also the hottest time of year, with temperatures in the mid ’80s.
Program participants will find their home away from home in a comfortable guest house, screened by CFHI Local Coordinators in Accra and following CFHI’s health and safety guidelines. The guest house is located in a residential neighborhood of Mamprobi, Accra, 15-20 minutes from the clinical partner site. For added comfort and support, the CFHI local coordinator resides on-site. In some cases, CFHI scholars share the house and/or a room with fellow program participants.
Going beyond mere lodging, staying in a local house provides a unique opportunity to learn about the local culture. Accommodations include two meals per day. At the welcome orientation, participants will be instructed on culture and work etiquette to have the best experience in both the home and the health settings.
All students should arrive in Accra, Ghana on the program start date. Participants will be picked up at the airport by one of the on-site CFHI Local coordinators and driven to the guest house.
All US citizens should apply for a Ghanaian tourist visa in advance. CFHI will provide more information after acceptance into the program.
Uniquely, 60% or more of CFHI student program fees go directly to the communities they will be visiting, benefiting the local economy at large.
Accra is a city in constant movement, from the lively Makola market to the city’s picturesque fishing harbor and the must-see Arts and Cultural Sales Center. Not far from the city, Bojo Beach is a popular destination, unspoiled because of its distance from the city. Labadi Beach, located in the city itself, is very active during the day, but the pace becomes exhilarating at night when it becomes one of Accra’s best nightspots, with a variety of pubs and eateries with great ocean views.
For history, head for the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park to see the former President’s mausoleum and museum. Other tourist attractions include the National Museum of Ghana, the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Theatre, the Accra Centre for National Culture, the Jamestown lighthouse and the Ohene Djan Stadium.
Aburi Botanical Gardens, about 20 miles north of Accra, is where locals relax and enjoy a picnic, boasting beautifully manicured lawns and a collection of trees and plants from Ghana and abroad. Shai Hills Reserve is another day trip option throughout the reserve. Visitors can enjoy a horseback ride through the reserve and observe baboons, parrots, and antelopes roaming freely.
A typical day in a CFHI program is a blend of immersive learning, cultural exploration, and personal reflection. Program activities usually take place in the mornings for 4 to 6 hrs, generally Monday through Friday. Participants will typically be at the hospital from 8 am – 2 pm, though this can vary significantly depending on special clinics, participants indicating interest in specific rotations, etc. The clinical site assignments and schedule are shared by the local team upon arrival. Weekends are free of program-planned activities.
This program focuses on two primary sites.
The first is at Ghana’s only exclusively public pediatric hospital under the Ghana Health Service. Participants interested in clinical medicine and management of tropical diseases, especially in child health, may have the opportunity to rotate through the various units: emergency department, outpatient department, high dependency unit, general medical wards, surgery wards, and the infant ward. Participants interested in maternal health services may spend additional time in the maternity centre. Residents and Fellows in Paediatrics in the program may get the opportunity to experience some time in a preferred unit in the University Teaching Hospital (pending approval). Public health rotations may include experiences in the malnutrition ward and malnutrition rehabilitation unit to understand malnutrition interventions and other public health interventions and campaigns.
The second primary site is the Department of Occupational Therapy (OT), School of Biomedical and Allied Health Sciences, University of Ghana, located at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, Accra. The is reserved solely for occupational therapy students and professionals interested in global health educational experiences in Ghana. Participants experience various OT under various departments at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital. They may experience community OT at the Shai-Osudoku District, Dodowa, located in the Southeastern part of Ghana in the Greater Accra Region.
After acceptance, students can indicate any preferences on their application. The local team does their best to accommodate learners’ preferences based on local availability and conditions.
This exclusively public pediatric hospital partners with other secondary sites such as a maternity centre and the Child Health Unit of a University Teaching Hospital in Ghana. This site is a historical medical and global health landmark because Dr. Cicely Williams, the first director of Maternal and Child Welfare for the World Health Organization, Geneva, worked there in her early career. She was instrumental in advancing maternal and child health in developing nations. She first identified the cause and found prevention and a cure for the disease Kwashiorkor, a severe form of protein-energy malnutrition.
The hospital provides preventive, primary and specialist pediatric care for treating several diseases and specializes in managing malnutrition. It caters to all socioeconomic classes, particularly people with lower and middle income. Services include active disease surveillance and maternal health services such as family planning, nutrition rehabilitation and physiotherapy services for children. Placement may include the outpatient department (OPD), emergency department (E.R.), various admission wards and units. It may include weekly special clinics such as HIV/AIDS, Asthma, Sickle Cell, Neurodevelopment, Wellness, ENT, Pediatric Surgery and theatre observational experiences. Also, participants may be engaged in community and public health projects and activities based on the prevailing schedule during their program. These include child welfare clinics, school health visits, immunization campaigns, health education outreach opportunities and home visits for follow-up care. Participants may also experience other secondary sites in partnership with this hospital, such as a maternity centre and one of the units of a paediatric department of a tertiary hospital in Ghana.
The Occupational Therapy (OT) department is part of the School of Biomedical and Allied Health Sciences (SBAHS) in the College of Health Sciences at the University of Ghana, located in the bustling and quintessential Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital Campus. SBAHS comprises the Departments of Dietetics, Medical Laboratory Sciences, Physiotherapy, Radiography (Diagnostic and Therapy), Respiratory Therapy and Audiology, Speech and Language Therapy.
Participants will get the opportunity to have OT experiences at various units in this hospital, such as the Stroke Unit, Child Health Department and Psychiatry Unit.
A unique community OT experience may be available for those interested who agree to the terms and conditions of living in a rural location. This site is the Shai Osuduku Community Occupational Therapy Unit, a Shai Osudoku district centre division. This centre was started in March 2020 by Robin Baker, one of the CFHI Ghana Program alumni who started a non-profit in the USA called GoTHERAPY after her CFHI transformative experience in Ghana at the Physiotherapy Unit of the Cape Coast Teaching Hospital. GoTherapy worked on various initiatives in Ghana, including the Shai Osudoku District, to open the first community occupational therapy centre in Ghana to serve adults with chronic illnesses and children with varying disabilities. To continue to meet the community’s growing needs, GoTHERAPY and the Shai Osudoku District collaborated to renovate the pharmacy warehouse fully and transform it into the Shai Osudoku Community Occupational Therapy Center.
Jacqueline Elikem Amegee comes from the Ewe tribe, from a town called Dzelukope in the Volta region of Ghana. She currently serves as the Deputy Country Medical Director, supporting the Country Medical and Program Director in his work. She has long-standing experience working as a Nurse Practitioner in Maternal and Child Health. She is a Nursing Officer at The Trust Hospital Limited in Accra, Ghana. She has a diploma in General Nursing from Western Hills School of Nursing and a BSc Nursing degree from the Central University College in Accra. Her hobbies include reading, swimming and travelling.
Dr. Christian Akore Agyeman is a physician currently working at various health training institutions under Ghana’s Ministry of Health (MOH). He obtained his MBChB from the Accra College of Medicine (ACM), Ghana. He has a Leadership and Management in Health certificate from the University of Washington Department of Global Health. He served as financial secretary of the Students Representative Council at ACM and as a leader in various capacities over the years. He is a McKinsey Forward Champion and a member of the Junior Doctors Association of Ghana, the Ghana Medical Association, and the Surgery Interest Group of Africa (SiGAf) He is a McKinsey Forward Champion and a member of the Junior Doctors Association of Ghana, the Ghana Medical Association, and the Surgery Interest Group of Africa (SiGAf). He has a keen interest in healthcare management, governance, and administration. He also likes music, film, and art.
The CFHI Local Coordinators manage the logistics of housing, transportation, and cultural immersion throughout the program. Maureen is a native to Durban and is a great resource for any questions related to navigating Durban, cultural norms, and tips on planning weekend travel.
Roland Takyi is a native of Cape Coast in the Central Region of Ghana. He holds a higher diploma in Computer System Engineering from IPMC in Ghana. He has worked with Emartech Global Services as a Field Engineer and Proworld Ghana as a Participant Coordinator. He is a Local Coordinator and Projects officer for Accra programs and projects. His hobbies include playing soccer, watching movies, researching, travelling, and politics.
This CFHI program is ideal for participants who are 19 years of age or older, who have an interest in fields related to pediatrics & child health, hospital & inpatient medicine, maternal & reproductive health, primary health care and/or public health. You do not need to be a student to be eligible for this program; mid-career professionals, GAP year learners, and others are also welcome. This program will provide an in-depth overview of pediatrics & child health, hospital & inpatient medicine, maternal & reproductive health, primary health care and/or public health in Ghana through rotations within Ghana’s largest pediatrics hospital in Accra. To confirm your eligibility, please read CFHI’s general eligibility requirements.
“I believe it is helpful to see how systems and resources developed over time and to understand where they came from. I also learned about the power of patient education. No matter how many medications you provide or the number of times you see a patient, teaching parents why these things are important is the only long-term way to improve the health of a child. From HIV management to the prevention of malnutrition, money may be a barrier to improved health, but the ultimate challenge is due to a lack of education. This emphasizes the importance of doctors working hand in hand with the entire medical community, social work, and public health to educate patients. Overall, this was an amazing and humbling learning experience that I would recommend to all!”
“My experience in Ghana was incredible! I worked with inspiring health care workers and witnessed firsthand how the social context in which a child lives can have a profound effect on overall health and development.”
“One of the most striking things for me was the gradual turnaround when you start rehabilitating a child nutritionally. I was lucky enough to catch children at the tail end of their inpatient stay to be able to follow up with them this last week in the outpatient nutritional rehabilitation clinic, which allows women to learn how to prepare balanced meals at the center for themselves and their children…” read more on Julia’s fascinating blog (week 1 & 2).
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