By Robert Griffin & Gisele McKnight
Most of the 2 million people in the Diocese of Ho have little access to health care. Everyday life is a struggle, and if someone becomes ill, the outcome can easily be fatal.
Now imagine that scenario during a worldwide pandemic. Reports from the Diocese of Ho indicate there is little help, limited testing, and incomplete statistics to add to the international database of cases. But the virus has not spared the region, and people are understandably fearful and desperate.
It is against this backdrop that the Companion Diocese Team of the Diocese of Fredericton has been trying to bring a mobile medical clinic to Ho — both before and during the pandemic. Some of the Rotary International funds the team had counted on to help bolster our fundraising efforts has gone to help pandemic-related projects.
But we believe God has his hand on this dire situation, and in the last few weeks, the project has advanced quickly. The financial application has been prepared for Rotary International Foundation funding. Rotary District 7810 has donated $69,000 (CDN) to the project, which can be matched by the Rotary Foundation. A generous $30,000 has been donated so far from our people and parishes, and from the Rotary Club of Grand Manan.
This leaves about $63,000 still to raise. If those funds are in place, then Rotary can match that $93,000 with another $46,500. So, our budget of $268,000 CDN is close to being accomplished.
The Rotary club of Grand Manan, the International Club submitting the application to Rotary Foundation, should hear from the foundation within four to five months. If all goes well, the vehicle could be in operation in Ghana by the fall of 2021.
THE MOBILE CLINIC
Malley Industries of Moncton, NB, international designers and builders of specialized medical vehicles, has designed the mobile clinic to suit the needs and conditions of Ghana. They took this request on with great enthusiasm, even thought they were extremely busy with requests for vehicles connected to COVID-19.
Every step of the design and needs for the vehicle were made in consultation with the Ho Teaching Hospital, and the Diocese of Ho. As well, they participated in providing information for the Rotary International Foundation Grant Application.
The vehicle is the nerve centre of the mobile clinic. The clinic will operate similar to an army field hospital — remember the TV series M*A*S*H*? On the roof rack will be tents that will be pitched to become the reception and examination rooms, and another tent will be the procedure and surgery theatre.
The vehicle has been designed to house all the diagnostic equipment, such as hematology analysis, urine analysis, ultra sound, microscopes, and all medical supplies. Special compartments have been designed to house the equipment safely, protecting it from the rough, rural roads.
A Stryker stretcher will be on-board, for examinations and some procedures. The vehicle has a vaccination refrigerator and a genset, to provide electricity for the clinic. There will be an on-board pharmacy as well.
Doctors and nurses will accompany the mobile clinic in another vehicle. This will be the first time that specialists will be sent into rural Volta and Oti regions, equipped to see clients, and perform procedures.
Since the Ho Hospital is a teaching hospital, students will accompany the clinic staff, to receive practical hands-on training in rural medicine. The clinic staff will also support rural health clinics throughout the regions.
Sustainability of the project is ensured by the Ghana National Health Insurance Program. Like Canada, Ghana has a nationally funded health program. There is, however, a yearly registration fee. While it is not much for the insurance, most rural people do not know about the program, so they are not registered.
One of the first duties of the mobile clinic will be to register the clients so the services and medications will be covered by the insurance program. This will ensure the sustainability of the project.
WHAT THE PROJECT NEEDS
From beginning serious discussion with parties in Ghana just six months ago, God has brought all of the pieces of this project together. The Companion Diocese Team is asking for two things to see this project come to fruition.
• First and most important, we ask for your continued prayers for this life-saving project for the people of rural Volta and Oti regions. Life expectancy in the regions is presently 42 for men, and 65 for women; the need for medical care is essential.
• The second request is for your continued financial support for this project. We have just over $60,000 to raise for this major project. As churches begin to return to a somewhat normal routine, we ask that each parish consider a fundraiser or a donation. We also ask parishes to share this information with their congregations.
These are difficult times for many people in our diocese, with COVID-19 changing the way we live and work. Imagine struggling with COVID-19 with no medical care. That is reality for most rural people in Ghana. May God bless all of you who generously have supported this project so far.
To donate, call the synod office at 506-459-1801, ext. 1003, or make an online donation here. Choose Diocese of Ho mobile medical clinic from the drop-down FUND menu.
Robert Griffin is chair of the Companion Diocese Team.
1. Mothers' Union member |Lilian Ketch was one of three diocesan volunteers to visit the Diocese of Ho in January to discern the right project for the people of Ho. Here she is with school children.
2. Bishop Mathias and Robbie Griffin with a large contingent of staff from the Ho Teaching Hospital.
3. The Ho fundraising banner
4. Visitors from the Companion Diocese Team with Bishop Mathias at the Cathedral. From left: Cheryl Jacobs, Robbie Griffin, the bishop, Lilian Ketch.