An archbishop, two priests and three lay people gathered for the blessing of the Diocese of Ho mobile medical clinic on Feb. 25.
The vehicle, equipped at Malley Industries in Dieppe, will soon be transported to Halifax, where it will be shipped via Antwerp, Belgium to Tema, Ghana for use in the Volta rural region. The two million people there have little or no health care.
After a tour of the van and its components, Archbishop David Edwards prayed for the factory and its employees, offering thanks for their hard work. He prayed a blessing on the Companion Diocese Committee, its chair, Robbie Griffin, the parishes that donated, and the many Rotary clubs, members and others who supported the project.
David asked for protective blessings on the vehicle’s journey, arrival and use, and most especially, for the many people who will receive medical care from it.
The blessing follows a two-year fundraising campaign that had a great deal of support from Rotary, individuals, parishes and parish groups.
“I’m very grateful to the people who donated and to God for his provision,” said David afterwards. “I hope it travels safely and is used for many years.”
He thanked the Companion Diocese Committee and Rotary for taking the lead in partnering with the diocese on the project. He also noted the committee was able to “shop local” by engaging Malley Industries, an emergency vehicle manufacturer, to do the work.
“It’s great that this could be done right here in New Brunswick,” he said.
It was two years ago that committee members Robbie, Cheryl Jacobs and Lilian Ketch visited Bishop Matthais in the Diocese of Ho to investigate possible projects Rotary could partner with.
The answer was the mobile medical clinic, through a partnership with the Diocese of Fredericton, the Diocese of Ho, the Rotary Foundation, the Rotary Club of Grand Manan Island, the Rotary Club of Ho and the Ho Teaching Hospital, which will operate, maintain and staff the van.
The three arrived back in Canada one day before an overseas passenger — patient zero — arrived in the country with the first case of COVID-19.
The ensuing pandemic slowed both the fundraising and the delivery of the stripped-down van to Malley.
When the van finally arrived at Malley last fall, Robbie’s plans for the clinic were finally put into play.
“I’m super pleased,” said Robbie at the blessing. “Malley literally took everything I said and translated it into reality. They’ve thought of everything.”
“We were given a finely detailed briefing and that shapes how the manufacturing goes,” said David Pargiter, director of sales for Malley. “We had some figuring out to do. It’s a unique truck, but I think we hit all the targets.”
Because of a COVID outbreak at the factory and several bouts of poor weather, the blessing had to be postponed several times. The finished product sat in the showroom for two months, which made for an interesting conversation piece for visitors, said David Pargiter.
Some highlights of the clinic are a generator, air conditioning system, roof rack for tent storage (in which to see patients), stretcher, vaccine refrigerator, shelving, cabinets, lab technician’s desk, five-foot nine-inch interior height, a winch, and all-wheel drive to cope with poor driving conditions in Ghana.
Both Malley Industries and Rotary members have made substantial donations of medical equipment and supplies, including two optometry suites, all of which will be shipped to Ghana.
The van, its refurbishment at Malley, medical equipment and supplies, technology and communications programs, spare parts, pharmaceuticals, training and shipping has cost about $270,000 CDN.
You can read more about the Diocese of Ho mobile medical clinic in the March 2020 and April 2020 editions of the New Brunswick Anglican.
UPDATE: The mobile medical clinic left the Port of Halifax March 13. Please pray for a safe journey.
Medical care in Ho
• In our companion Diocese of Ho, in Ghana, West Africa, the life expectancy of males in 2020 was 63. For females it was 65. In Canada in 2020, the life expectancy of males was 80. For females, it was 84.
• Ghana’s infant mortality rate in 2019 was shocking: 34 deaths per 1,000 live births. In Canada, of 1,000 babies born, four die.
• In the Volta and Oti regions, within which the diocese is located, two-thirds of the population live in rural areas, where health care is not accessible. Births take place in the home by untrained midwives. Infections go untreated and often end in death.
• Epidemics of typhoid, cholera, dysentery, yellow fever and measles are common. Diabetes, heart conditions and cancer go untreated. Children often have ringworm, and they can suffer from river blindness — caused by a parasite in the water. Often, the only water available for drinking and cooking is scooped from a dirty stream or pool of water.
• There’s almost no health care at all in rural Volta and Oti regions. Most people don’t have transportation to communities with health care, which are several hours away.
• Many people aren’t comfortable going to the city for health care because of a prejudice against the rural poor. As well, most people they know who went to a hospital died, so there is little incentive to make the trip, even if they had money and transportation to do so.
1. Those in attendance for the blessing, from left: Robbie Griffin, Companion Diocese Committee chair; the Rev. Chris Hayes, representing the Moncton Archdeaconry; Cheryl Jacobs, committee member (who dressed in her Ghanan clothing she was given during a 2020 visit); Lilian Ketch, committee member; Archbishop David Edwards, who blessed the van; David Pargiter, director of sales for Malley Industries; and the Rev. Thomas Nisbett, whose career before he became a priest was at Malley Industries.
2. Archbishop David Edwards, in purple, watches as director of sales David Pargiter demonstrates removal of the stretcher from the mobile clinic van during the blessing of the clinic Feb. 25 at Malley
Industries in Dieppe.
3. Malley sales director David Partiger, right, points out features of the mobile clinic to Robbie Griffin and Archbishop David Edwards. Lilian Ketch is seen in the background.