July 23

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‘What Exactly are you doing in Ghana?’

  • Is a question my Dad always asks.

I often ask myself the same question! So here is the answer.

In my last blog I talked about the Tropical Lab Initiative, TLI, the (small) organisation I am working with.

TLI provides basic biomedical testing to 8 clinics in the ‘remote’ Amansie West district. Remote is a relative term, because as the crow flies, it’s probably no more than 75 miles from Kumasi, a city of 2million people. However, in terms of development, it is very different. The normal services you might expect in the city, and would absolutely take for granted in the UK, are not always here. The majority of the roads are unsurfaced, there is running water but at a low pressure, and there is electricity, but with power cuts.  The clinics are staffed by Nurses, Midwives and Community Health Workers who provide basic treatment and prevention of infectious diseases such as malaria, HIV and hepatitis B and also antenatal care to expectant mothers. More complex intervention is the responsibility of the District Hospital. This is the only place you might meet a Doctor and the journey time to the hospital in a 4 x 4 could be as much as 2hours. Imagine doing that on foot and when you are ill.

So TLI is here to support the clinics with basic testing biomedical testing. The operation runs remarkably well given the challenging environment but can be improved, and that’s my role. I am 3 weeks into my assignment, so what am I seeing? I have spent time running the stats on where samples are coming from and what testing is being sought. It seems that some clinics supply a lot of samples and others comparatively few. So I need to help TLI understand this.  Additionally, we are only part way down the road of getting money back from the government for the work we do. We submit requests for reimbursement, but we don’t have a bank account to receive the moneys into.  Finally, we can and should, tighten up on our quality and safety procedures. Ultimately, we want to replicate the lab in other districts. These are all areas I want to make an impact on.

So I hope this answers the question I posed at the beginning. Sometimes, you might read the PULSE blogs and imagine that everyone has gone off on Safari. Yes, I spend a lot of time in a 4 x 4, but believe me, a Safari it is not.