I cannot believe how fast time has flown by; I have completed almost 4 months of my assignment as a GSK PULSE volunteer, and it has been over 3 months since I arrived in Ghana. I remember my first few days in Accra when I was trying to get used to the new environment, the weather, and the people around me and calling me “obroni!” (white person). I have had the chance to travel to villages and communities inside the country, and I have met a lot of great people, including community health workers (CHWs).
My first field trip was with an NGO called Willows International. As you may remember from my previous blog post, I visited their office in Accra to introduce them to the 1mCHW Operations Room. I met Valerie Gueye, the Country Program Coordinator.. In Kumasi I spent a day with Valerie and their volunteers, which they call “Field Educators” (FEs), in the Sepe-Buokrom Health Clinic and surrounding communities. During the day I saw how FEs interacted with the people in the community by educating them about family planning, following up on their health condition and, if necessary, refering them to the nearby clinic.
I also had the opportunity to travel to Amansie West District to visit the Millennium Villages Project (MVP) office and meet the CHWs working at the site. I saw where they lived and worked within the community, and learned about their daily duties and the needs of the communities.
Our trips to the communities were not always an easy commute. Although we were on the road with good cars and skilled drivers, I experienced first hand the poor transportation conditions to and from the communities and even to the nearest health clinics. This once again emphasized to me the importance of CHWs in healthcare delivery, especially in rural areas. Most of the time we travelled through bumpy paths and mud lakes among forests. Therefore, it was not surprising that when I asked the CHWs about what the community needs most, almost all of them replied with “better roads”.
Most of the CHWs stated that being a CHW took most of their time. Nevertheless, some CHWs still carry on with their own work, like working on their farms. They all came from various backgrounds and had different opinions on their least favorite part of being a CHW, but they all agreed on the same thing – they love being a CHW because they feel like they actually help people in need.
After observing CHWs improve the health of their communities, it brings me great joy that Ghana’s Ministry of Health, Ghana Health Services, and the Ministry of Labor’s Youth Employment Agenecy are preparring to launch a national CHW program in Ghana.
To prepare for this, the 1mCHW Campaign team and I have developed an initial draft of the CHW Program Implementation Guidelines. This document will outline the guidelines for the implementation in the Ashanti Region of Ghana, the roles of all parties involves, and the responsibilities of each stakeholder, which will be very important in the successful implementation of the program.
Stay tuned for my next blog post, where I will continue to give updates about my assignment and my impressions of Ghana. Meanwhile, you are welcome to follow me on Twitter @suleinghana. I salute you with an Adinkra symbol I recently learned while handprinting fabrics: Hye-Wonhye (endurance)