Imagine living in a village, which is about two hours’ travel from the nearest health facility – by bicycle, because that’s the only means of transport you have. Or imagine always being the last one to be attended to at a clinic because you’re considered a witch. Or again, imagine having a child that is clearly not well, but you just don’t have the money to go to hospital to find out what the problem is.
There are many such people in our part of Ghana. The main thing we do as Project Share in the area of health is share knowledge about how to prevent diseases and live healthily. But once a year we also have a group of visiting health workers to go round various communities who have poor access to the health facilities here – due to the reasons mentioned above. In this report we want to explain a bit more about the medical outreach and also thank you for the part you played in making it possible.
With a team of two doctors, two nurses, two nursing students, a pharmacist, a physiotherapist, an oral hygienist (who is doing health education here this year) and a handful of non-medical team members, we visited in total 7 different villages in the area to run a free mobile clinic. Leaving around 7 in the morning, it would take us on average 1 hour’s drive (by minibus) to reach the village. We would greet the chief and leaders and then start setting up the various posts. When we were ready to begin, we would explain to the community what we’re here to do and why we want to do this. Then followed a health talk, for instance warning against reckless use of antibiotics or explaining how to prevent malaria. We also encouraged people to go in for the National Health Insurance Scheme, generally costing slightly less than one visit to the clinic. After some practical explanation concerning the set-up of the clinic the registration could start. Normally we would stop registration around 3.30 pm, which meant that we could completely finish around 5 pm and get home for just after 6.
In total we were able to see well over 500 people. The main problems we came across were malaria, malnutrition, (infected) wounds, stomach problems, old age problems, skin and eye problems. At one of the posts we explained to mothers how to make ORS – a simple drink to prevent dehydration in children with diarrhoea. We were able to help a number of seriously ill people go to the hospital and literally saved a few lives, particularly of malnourished children. Apart from this, as in any form of medical care, we were able to offer a lot of love and attention to people who needed that as the main medication.
Project Share has as its twin goals to share people’s burdens hand in hand with sharing our faith. Of course we were able to put our faith in action by showing people God’s love in offering the free care and attention. But we did more than just that. People here in Ghana (as probably elsewhere in Africa too) see sickness in a spiritual dimension. Though they (sometimes) believe that taking medicines helps to solve the problem, they also believe that prayer helps alongside that. So we made good use of that opportunity to have a separate prayer post, for people who wanted to – and about half the people did! For instance people whom we could give no medication due to untreatable complaints as old age body pains, we could of course offer prayer. In other instances there were people with mental or demonic problems who we were able to help by praying with them. In the talk at the beginning, we also invited anyone who was interested in Christianity to come and talk with Rahman and the local pastors. In all villages there were at least a handful of people who came to hear more.
Since the visit of this medical team included Easter, we were able to include an Easter service in one of the villages. People here had previously shown an interest to know more about Christianity, and the service was fairly well attended – some 20 people. At the end about 9 people indicated that they were willing to make a commitment to become a Christian.
As you understand, this kind of medical outreach runs entirely on gifts and this year we have been greatly blessed. We spent about the following:
Medicines & referrals € 750
Fuel & repairs € 600
Practicalities € 120
As transport plays a key role in doing this kind of job, and renting transport here is quite expensive, we were able to add some money to buy a used minibus for this purpose. We also got about € 1500 in gifts towards this. By now we have almost finished paying for the bus – about € 500 is still needed for this. Gifts are still welcome.
Thank you very much to all who gave and made this outreach possible! We could not have done it without you!