“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

Monday, May 31, 2010

Things About Ghana:

So it has been more then a week since I have arrived and this place is really amazing, the people here are so friendly and nice, but at the same time completely different from anything I have ever experienced in my life. I knew going into this volunteer abroad and working in a health care setting it was of course going to be different from what I am use to in the USA, but to actually see how different it is, it can be overwhelming at times.

•The hospitals are dirty. The OPD is one large waiting room that sick patients wait, so first they are seen by the nurse, their vitals are taken and then they go wait in another long line to see the doctor. The nurse’s station is really just a cubical with a table and some instruments that are used to take their weight, BP, and temperature. As far as I could see the thermometer isn’t disinfected very well or at all at times. I had sure that when I was at the station I asked for some disinfecting alcohol and cotton swaps and wiped it off between patients, but I don’t think that happens every much when I am not there.

•The roof to the OPD is elevated from the rest of the building to let airflow through, but when it rains (which it did once) it comes pouring into the building. So the nurses and I went to the Injection Room and did vitals, but the patients had to stay out in the large waiting room, just getting wet.

•When they finally get to go in and see the doctor, the doctor says about 2 words, doesn’t really do an examination and sends them to the dispensary for medication. I realize that they have a lot of patients to see and most of them aren’t really that sick, but I am unsure how they are diagnosing UTI’s, malaria, and a wide range of other sicknesses without a single lab being done. That just would never happen back in the states and I guess that is exactly why I wanted to come to a developing country, because it is so different and I seriously feel very lucky. I also don’t want to say the doctors are being lazy, but out of the 4, one in particular seems to hate his job. He listens to the radio, says about 2 words to each patient, and sends them on their way. They all answer phone calls during their rounds and they often stop talking to the patient to ask me questions about me and President Obama. They work ethic here is just so different it’s hard to get use to it.

•Enough about the hospital, I have mentioned before how we get to some places around Ghana. There are line taxis and Tros, we usually take Tros to get to destinations that are far away because they are pretty cheap and hold a lot of people, but they are death machines  Some don’t have working headlights, so at night it was so scary getting home, they can break down, they are big so they can tip easily especially when the driver is trying to pass, and they are kind of uncomfortable. But it’s the cheapest way to get around Ghana if you don’t have a car, so we take them. I haven’t had a bad experience yet, but I have heard some stories already. Line taxis are good for going short distances, but you have to ask about prices before you get in, because taxi drivers can really rip you off (especially if you are white), so it’s always a challenge to bargain, but it usually works out.

•People are always trying to sell you things on the side of the road….ALWAYS! You never get away from it, but after about 2 days you really do get use to it. Just say “no thank you” and they move on, but they are often handy on long Tro rides because the sellers are usually on busy streets so if you need water or food, they will come up to your window.

•The Ghanaian word for white person is “Obroni” and everyone calls us that. Little kids LOVE screaming “obroni” at us when we walk down the street and they follow us, wanting us to take pictures and stuff. \I might come back to the states with a complex because no one will be screaming “white girl” or “white sister” at me or want to take pictures with me  But it’s a strange world here because I would never walk down the streets in the states screaming, “hi Asian” so it’s weird that it is so common here.

1 comment:

  1. Dr. aren't lazy and if you have made it on to medical school you would soon now that in a rural/local setting the diseases are well known to doctors. They are trained to observe people for vital stats and based on prior acquired knowledge are pretty effective at what they do. How many death did you experience when there? You also draw a point to the lack of labs done, which though true will be done if a patient comes in a second time with the same issues. However looking at the US system that you as your contrasting experience, how many test are taking and how many mis-diagnosis are made. It doesn't have people repeatedly returning for more care than it causes health care to rise. Sadly even though the doctor to patient ratio in US is significantly higher, and the US probably has over 2000 descendant Ghanaian and 500 Ghanaian trained doctors working here, I would argue that accessibility is better in Ghana. What is the point of having a so called "good system" when its in accessible.

    Obroni is a twi word for white person and not a Ghanaian word as though the official language of Ghana is "Ghanese".