Social Development, Empowerment, and Health
Ghana (formerly known as the Gold Coast) is recognized as the first sub-Saharan African country to gain its independence from European colonization 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 in its leadership and growth in other to improve the health and lives of its people towards the necessary social and economic development. However, its current development indices although still quite progressive does 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 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 young people at risk of abuse and exploitation of various forms. 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 and wellbeing and to channel the necessary drive towards social development.
According to Bilance, 1997 “Social Development is the promotion of a sustainable society that is worthy of human dignity by empowering marginalized groups, women and men, to undertake their own development, to improve their social and economic position and to acquire their rightful place in society. Another definition by Amartya Sen, 1995 states “Social development is equality of social opportunities”. Social development promotes social change and provides safety nets designed to empower, liberate and engage people, communities, and institutions to be collectively involved. In addition, Social Development promotes social inclusion and puts people first ensuring that vulnerable and disenfranchised people are able to actively participate in all aspects of their socio-economic, political and cultural life.
Through CFHI’s Social Development, Empowerment and Health in Ghana program, participants would have the opportunity to experience the various roles stakeholders play towards achieving Social development. This would include the role of external organizations such as an internationally recognized NGO involved in Sexual and Reproductive Health and rights, which includes providing health care and how they advocate for the rights of women and young people and how they work with them to harness opportunities for their benefits. Participants will also learn and get to experience how private individuals in the form of “Social Entrepreneurship” can work with limited resources and still make a significant change and impact in their communities through farming, education and empowering individuals to take responsibility and actions to change their livelihoods. In addition, participants will experience the role of government through creating community-based health initiatives that ensure health access to remote areas and how they run programs such as social cash transfer systems that help support the vulnerable and poor in the rural communities.
This program takes place in Cape Coast and Accra. Participants are welcome to indicate organization (s) of interest during the application process, or in-country during orientation.
Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana (PPAG) – Accra
PPAG the leading Non-Governmental Organization providing Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) services in Ghana. It is a recognized member of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) with a mission to enhance the quality of life through the provision of 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. Participants will get the opportunity to experience the following programmatic areas of PPAG’s work in Ghana.
- PPAG Family Health Clinic – Participants will undergo observational and experiential learning in this clinic which offers Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) care and services to the community. It is composed of various health practitioners from midwives, nurses, Obstetrics and Gynaecology Specialists and other SRH experts who offer safe motherhood initiatives from guidance and counseling on fertility and SRH issues, family planning services and antenatal care. It offers a male inclusive space and services to everyone, including young people and the elderly.
- PPAG Community Development Projects - PPAG has a long history of leadership in Family Planning programmes 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 organisation also assists national efforts aimed at improving the socio-economic and political life of the population. It also involved in promoting the physical and mental health of families, especially the youth through positive sexual behaviors. In addition, it is involved in promoting better health and nutrition of families, especially children and women, initiating and promoting educational and other programmes aimed at responsible family life for the youth. Participants would learn about the current projects that are being run by the Project officers and may get the opportunity to partake in outreaches to various areas of the community like schools, attend workshops and may join in external meetings with other stakeholders in SRH.
- PPAG Youth Resource Centre and Youth Volunteer Activities – The PPAG Accra Young & Wise Youth Centre is an important congregation center for young people where they learn about their SRHR issues, have access to a library, computer education and internet services. They participate in various groups activities, learn basic skills and take extra classes to support school education. The other feature of the Young & Wise Brand is that it focuses and works with young people to use multi-media (including social media), peer education, social franchising and community engagements to promote a positive lifestyle and behavior for young people by promoting a popular lifestyle brand – Young & Wise. Its other youth brand is the Youth Action Movement (YAM) which is the Youth Volunteer Wing of the organization. It is made up of young people (10 – 24 years), in-and-out of school that form part of the critical mass of the organizations' volunteers, supporting with policy, resource mobilization and execution of the organizations' mandate. Participants would get the opportunity to witness, partake and can contribute under supervision in the activities this youth brand of PPAG.
NKWA Foundation – Cape Coast
This is a privately owned social entrepreneur organization and non-profit that focuses on sustainable community development, experimental organic agricultural techniques, fish farming, environmental consulting, health promotion, and rural education support in Cape Coast and other neighboring villages in the Central region, Ghana. NKWA works primarily on rural communities to advocate, empower, and enable communities by providing a variety of opportunities to help sustain livelihoods and the wellbeing of community members. Participants would get the opportunity to visit the sites and learn about their project areas, as well as participate in outreach and special events.
Community-Based Health Planning and Services (CHPS) – Cape Coast
CHPS is a national strategy for the delivery of essential community-based health services and provides planning services primarily 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. As a CFHI participant, you would have the opportunity to explore one of the CHPS program sites and learn from community health nurses and primary health care staff as they facilitate child welfare clinics, immunization program, breastfeeding campaigns while offering medical and public health services. Participants will also have the opportunity to participate in mobile outreach events.
Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) program – Cape Coast
The LEAP program is managed by the Department of Social Welfare and Community Development (DCSD) in Cape Coast. LEAP is a national social cash transfer program that provides a cash grant to extremely poor households across Ghana in efforts to alleviate poverty in the short-term poverty while encouraging long-term human capital development. The implementation of the Program represents the Ghanian's government’s vision to create an inclusive society through the provision of sustainable mechanisms for Orphaned and Vulnerable Children (OVC), persons with severe disability and elderly persons aged 65 and older. CFHI participants will get the opportunity to connect with DCSD program-staff and learn about DCSD activities in the region. Participants will also have the opportunity to accompany DCSD program officers on the field as they conduct Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) activities, education, and outreach on sustainable capital development in Ghana.
Cape Coast, Ghana: 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 of 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 at least 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.
Participants will be accommodated in apartments arranged by CFHI partner NGO in Ghana. Accommodations will include either a single or shared room depending on the particular apartment and the numbers in attendance in a particular month. These are similar apartments used by junior doctors in the hospitals and are equipped with basic amenities.
This program is open to all social welfare, social work, health policy, pre-medical, pre-public health, medical students, residents, interns, nurses, and any other individuals interested in the intersections of social work, health policy, 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. Participants 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.
- Guidance from CFHI staff in San Francisco 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.
Dr. Charles Chineme Nwobu: CFHI Ghana Medical Director- Dr. Charles, one of CFHI’s youngest Medical Directors, is a strong global health advocate with extensive experience in the field. As a medical student, he became involved with the global health and human rights organization called International Federation of Medical Students Association (IFMSA) for about five years where he grew to become one of their global health youth leaders. He had the honor of being elected as the IFMSA Regional Coordinator for Africa for two consecutive years and later on held his last officially elected position as the IFMSA Alumni Relations Support Division Director. He has experience with various public and global health projects and he has taken part in various international meetings, including some UN global health-related meetings. Currently, he is a member of the Junior Doctors Network of the World Medical Association.
Along with serving as CFHI’s Medical and Program Director for Ghana, he currently works as a physician-General Practitioner, in both the private and public sector. He holds both a BSc (MedSci) and a medical degree (MBChB) from the University of Ghana. Apart from his passion for global health, he enjoys working out, music, dancing, swimming, traveling, reading good literature, theatre and attending social events.
Ronald Takyi: Roland is an Assistant Coordinator for CFHI programs in Cape Coast. He is trained in Computer Science and Information Technology and has experiences working with various international programs and tourist in Ghana who visit the Cape Coast. His has worked for the West African Examinations Council (WAEC), Emmatec global services, Proworld Ghana and The Francis Eshun Baidoo (FEB) Foundation. Ronald is humble, dedicated, committed and hardworking. His interests include traveling, watching soccer, reading, movies, playing soccer and cooking.
Jacqueline Elikem Amegee: Jackie is a CFHI Local Coordinator for Accra, She works as a nurse at the Obstetrics and Gynecology unit of the Trust Mother and Child Hospital in Accra. She also has a professional experience working with our CFHI Medical Director, in Ghana. Jackie graduated with a BSc in Nursing from Central University College and a Diploma in General Nursing from Western Hills School of Nursing. She also has a Certificate in Public Relations, Advertising, and Marketing from the Ghana Institute of Journalism.
The testimonials below are from Alumni who participated in various CFHI programs in Ghana.
“My 4-week experience has made me more aware of the regional healthcare challenges faced in coastal Ghana. The hospital rotations were unique and eye-opening to the diversity of the hospital, and I appreciated the welcoming personality of the staff and respectful guidance. Staying with a host family allowed me to learn how to cook Ghanaian food, and also to appreciate the dynamic of family life in Ghana. CFHI's directors were professional and organized, and I would highly recommend this program to anyone considering applying in future.”
--Nicholas, Rowan University
"...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)