Social Work, Health, and Health Policy
Ghana has a long and rich cultural history and is considered one of the most stable and democratic countries in Africa. With strong political and economic systems and vibrant cities, Ghana is the perfect gateway for a rich cultural experience. Like many other African countries, Ghana is experiencing complex change including rapid social shifts, modernization, changes in migration patterns, and evolving health and health care-seeking behaviors. Health and social welfare challenges in Ghana are compounded by the consequences of colonialism, imperialism and the adoption of programs aimed at reducing national debts that have stifled the social sector. These challenges call for the coordination of interventions to support Ghana’s trajectory towards better social, health and economic outcomes for its citizens. One response to these challenges is a newly-developing social work profession.
Social Work is a practice and discipline that promotes social change and development, designed to empower, liberate and engage people, communities, and institutions to collectively address social ills, and through that process, engender sustainable and contextual interventions for the betterment of society. 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 Work, Health and Health Policy in Ghana program, participants will have the opportunity to partake in various social health, welfare, and policy-related activities and experiences at the local, regional and community levels. Participants will engage in community health system clusters, and learn about challenges in the social system, while exploring Ghana’s national health policy for healthcare delivery, and community-level approaches to development. Participants will have the option of learning from NGOs and partners in the health and social sectors, and to contribute to projects that seek to empower communities and foster social change. Activities include preventive and curative initiatives in maternal and child health at the community/primary care level, Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) in young people/adults, breastfeeding campaigns, immunization programs, Antenatal visits, advocacy/empowerment, stakeholder management, and program outreach.
Students in this program will gain exposure to many of the sites listed below during the course of their program. All are subject to availability at the time of participation. Students interested in a placement at the Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights NGO should indicate this request in their application, and note that this placement is located in Accra, Ghana’s capital city so should be prepared to spend several days there during their program. All other placements are located in Cape Coast.
Government Community-Based Health Planning program
This national health service offers 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. As a CFHI program participant, you may choose to learn from nurses and primary health care staff at a CHPS site. You will have the opportunity to observe, interact and participate in activities and initiatives.
Government Poverty-Alleviation Program
This placement offers a social cash transfer program, providing a cash grant to the extremely poor households across Ghana in efforts to alleviate short-term poverty and encourage long-term human capital development. The implementation of the Program represents the government’s vision of creating 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 shadow and work alongside the administrators of the program, supporting Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) activities, and education outreach on sustainable capital development in Ghana.
Sustainable Development NGO
You may choose to partake in the activities of a Non-profit organization that focuses on sustainable community development, experimental organic agricultural techniques, environmental consulting, health promotion, and rural education support in Cape Coast, Ghana. Furthermore, you will also have the opportunity to engage in community water development projects, while being part of the development of an agriculture database in the region.
Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights NGO
You may choose to learn from an NGO with a long history of leadership in Family Planning programs for youth and adults in Ghana, and has pioneered many projects including the development of male and female clinics and the integration of Family Planning into Community Development Projects. Furthermore, this NGOs work complements the efforts of the Government of Ghana, in providing health care and Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) programming and development for the nation. As a participant, you will have the opportunity to engage with various professionals involved in Youth- Centered activities/programs, including family clinics, outreach, training sessions, and advocacy.
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)