Almost two months into my PULSE volunteer assignment, here I am with my second blog post (those who missed the beginning of my story can read about it here). This time, I am saluting you from Kumasi, the second biggest city in Ghana and the capital of the Ashanti region. Before I get into the details about Kumasi, allow me to rewind and share about how I concluded my time in Accra.
During the month that I spent in Accra, I continued meeting various NGOs to present the One Million Community Health Workers (1mCHW) Campaign Operations Room. My aim was to inform them about our data harmonization project and tools, and get their ultimate support by receiving their health worker data. In all, I had the privilege to meet with representatives from FHI360, Christian Health Association Ghana (CHAG), Planned Parenthood Association Ghana (PPAG), International Pregnancy Advisory Services (IPAS), CARE, Population Council, Catholic Relief Services (CRS), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), UNICEF, World Child Cancer and Willows Foundation (which, to my surprise, is a Turkish organization that recently changed their name to Willows International). The best part about these meetings for me was learning about what these organizations do in Ghana, their successes and challenges, and discussing how we can collaborate to build a real time map of volunteers, nurses, midwives and other professionals working to increase universal health coverage.
While some of these organizations deploy their own community health workers (CHW), I discovered that many of these organizations mainly support the existing Ghana Health Service cadre of Community Health Volunteers (CHV) by providing training or supplies. Regardless, we received data contributions for the Operations Room from FHI360, and we are waiting to receive data from PPAG, IPAS, CRS, Willows International and CHAG as well.
I must say that these meetings were quite educational for me. The people I met were very selfless and helpful about the work we do. They were even willing to connect us to their colleagues at other organizations so that we could collect more data for our Operations Room. My calendar filled up almost completely, and I had the amazing opportunity to visit every neighborhood in Accra just by visiting these NGO offices!
The time in Accra literally flew by, but it left me with many unforgettable memories. I met a few people and we became great friends quickly. We even planned a weekend trip to Mole National Park (in Tamale, Northern Ghana) for a safari adventure. After walking for about two hours inside the park, we got to see the elephants! We encountered various other animals too, like monkeys, guinea fowls, warthogs, baboons, antelopes, and waterbucks, but seeing the elephants was the most exciting part of the trip for me.
After saying my farewell to the city of Accra, I packed my bags and moved to Kumasi. As soon as I got here, I jumped into a full week of meetings for the Ghana Telemedicine Programme Stakeholder & Expert Meeting. This national meeting brought together stakeholders from the Ghana Telemedicine Programme, which was piloted in Amansie-West district, to share experiences, best practices and challenges, and finalize the Telemedicine Programme implementation guidelines. I had a lot to learn, but I’m glad I had the chance to participate in the workshop and even contribute a few ideas to the guidelines.
I will continue to keep you updated about my assignment and my days in Kumasi. Meanwhile, you can follow me on Twitter for daily news and some random photography: @suleinghana
Hope to meet you in the next blog post,