A lot of people have asked me what I am doing in Ghana? What is my job and why am I here….. This week I was actually able to answer that question….. I am here with the Jhpiego team in order to help people in remote areas access healthcare. Up until now, everything was on paper. I read about what I was going to be doing, but I really got to see and experience it over the last week and a half.
The project is all about community based health care….. What is that and why is it important? The Western regions of Ghana are comprised of remote villages and communities where they have little to no access to the surrounding areas. If you were sick, you cannot call a doctor or drive your car to the nearest hospital. People do not have phones or cars and most live in one room homes made of mud bricks. So, community based healthcare brings a facility to a central location in a community so that people can reach a trained medical professional. Ghana Health Services is responsible for supplying the nursing staff and the staff actually live on campus, or very close by so they can service their surrounding communities.
So, big picture…. Jhpiego is in the business of Process Improvement….. (Something I have some experience with at GSK…. different environment all together, but same basic principles).
We have a project team that is comprised of Jhpiego and Ghana Health Services members. As a team we conduct a baseline assessment. We interview the nurses, assess the facility and inspect the records and books. (Think internal GSK audit, but much smaller scale).
After the assessment, we identify gaps and areas that the facility needs to improve upon. We have a little meeting (like an after action review) and put together a plan forward in order to help the facility bridge the gaps. A majority of the gaps can all be taken care of through extra training.
After all of the baseline assessments are complete, Jhpiego will arrange training sessions for the nurses from all of the facilities in order to keep them up to date on their skills. After the assessments and the training, the nurses have the knowledge to take back to their communities and provide better services.
The goal of this project is to increase the access to quality healthcare services. The better the service, the more patients will come. This is all to create healthier communities so that women and children do not die from illnesses such as diarrhea, respiratory infections, or malaria.
So, this is why I am in Ghana and what I am doing…. and it is such a wonderful feeling to really love your job and wake up knowing you are working towards making a difference. I feel so lucky to be here and be a part of this process improvement…. Ghana Style!!