By Robert Griffin
The people of Ho have moved one step closer to having a mobile medical clinic, because the people of the Diocese of Fredericton have been generous.
With Rotary grant deadlines looming, the project still had to fundraise the last bit — about $25,000 — earlier this year. At the February Diocesan Council meeting, the Diocese added $5,000, and a member suggested Archbishop David Edwards send out a plea for parishes to consider donating to finish off the project.
Those efforts have paid off, with enough money now to continue onto the next phase. The first instalment of the Rotary grant has been paid.
A year ago, the $268,000 cost of the project seemed impossible, but $100,000 has been raised in the Diocese, and the rest has come from the Rotary Foundation. Any further funds donated will be used to purchase more equipment and supplies for the clinic.
The order for the mobile clinic has been placed with Malley Industries in Moncton. The model of Ford van originally chosen is not available until March 2022, as COVID-19 has shut down the factory until August of this year.
However, Malley has a comparable model scheduled to arrive in Moncton this July. With a slight redesign of the interior of the clinic, Malley will be able to begin the work to refit the clinic by the end of the summer. As a result, the clinic is on schedule to be in Ghana before the year is out.
The field-army style unit will be comprised of a medical van that will act as a laboratory, pharmacy and supply unit for all medical supplies and equipment. Tents will be carried on the roof racks to provide space for intake and examination of patients, and a tent for procedures, including minor surgeries. An onboard generator will power the clinic.
Doctors, nurses and technicians will accompany the clinic in a separate vehicle. As well, medical students will be trained in rural medicine. As a result, more doctors, nurses, and technicians will be trained to serve the 2.5 million people of the Volta and Oti regions, served by the Ho Teaching Hospital.
This project has been made sustainable by funds provided by the Ghana Department of Health. The Minister of Health has endorsed the project and ensured that funding will be maintained under the Ghana National Health Insurance Program to pay for the services of the mobile clinic.
This project has overcome a number of seemingly insurmountable issues. The God-driven project that was conceived by the Bishop of Ho 11 years ago is on its way to becoming a reality.
Mothers who have had no prenatal care will receive the benefit of doctors trained in obstetrics. Ultrasound will be available to detect birth issues early in the pregnancy. Children who previously had no access to doctors will benefit from paediatricians.
Eye examinations will be available as the result of a retired optometrist, Dr. Harvey Bass — a Rotarian from Florenceville, N.B. — donating his equipment to the clinic.
The onboard lab will be available to do urine analysis and haematology tests, and have the use of lab quality microscopes. A vaccination refrigerator will provide cold chain for life saving vaccines.
The clinic will have a quality Stryker stretcher with the ability to transport patients to the hospital if necessary and also serve as a surgical table in the field. It has IV poles and slide out trays for equipment such a heart monitors and surgical instruments.
The clinic will be accompanied by an Anglican priest to co-ordinate patient visits and assist in overcoming fears of the rural people who have never had medical services. As well, the priests will offer counselling services and prayer for patients.
In just a few months, the dream of Bishop Mathias will become a reality — to provide health care for his rural parishioners in the Diocese of Ho.
The next project on his list of needs is a high school for the Diocese. Presently, Anglican students only have access to education up to Grade 9.
As education is mostly run by the churches of Ghana, as it once was in Canada, very few students have access to a high school education. Presently, if an Anglican student wishes to go beyond Grade 9, negotiations are made with the Catholic School Board to attend one of their schools and spots are very limited.
The Diocese of Ho has purchased land for the high school. A project now needs to be developed. Archbishop David of Fredericton sees this as a five-year companion diocese project. More details will be forth coming at the end of the year.
Robert A. Griffin is chair of the Companion Diocese Team. He lives in Grand Manan.
1. A school in the Diocese of Ho.
2. Bishop Mathias, in red at centre, with Robert Griffin and representatives of the Ho Teaching Hospital. A partnership with the hospital will see them staff the mobile medical clinic.
3. Street scene in Ghana.
All photos submitted.