In March 2018 we were given the amazing opportunity within our nursing studies to travel out of areas to experience different nursing cultures. We decided to travel to Ghana with worktheworld to experience how people who don’t have a system such as the NHS can cope with health and social needs for the public. To be able to do this experience we had a grant from university, but had to fund the rest of the 3 week trip for ourselves. Therefore, we decided to do a sponsored bike ride, alongside working extra hours at our part-time job to be able to fund this trip. We received many donations from friends and family, with the Superintendent Gerry Richardson Memorial Youth Trust kindly donating towards our fundraising, which allowed us to get our remaining vaccinations and medications that we needed to stay safe in Ghana.
Whilst in Ghana, we stayed in the local town of Takoradi, where we spent 2 weeks in the Emergency Department of their regional hospital, and then the rest of the time visiting local communities experiencing their different ways of offering health care to all age groups. In the emergency department we were able to share our knowledge with the staff and also learn from themselves about specific illness that they see regularly such as malaria. Also, with the majority of cars in Ghana not having working seatbelts, and there being no systems in place on the roads, road traffic accidents were what brought the most patients to the door of the ED.
Whilst visiting the local communities, we visited all ages of people whose nearest hospital was many hours away. During this experience we were able to learn how they provide community care to people who were physically unable to attend the local services, and how they monitor them whilst in their own homes. We also spent the morning in the community speaking with mothers about CPR and how it can save lives, before teaching them how to check if a person has gone into cardiac arrest and then how to correctly perform CPR. We spent time in their community care centre testing locals for malaria, doing regular health and blood pressure checks and providing women with contraception.
We spent time with new mothers in the maternity unit where we did checks of the new born babies to ensure that they were healthy after birth. Due to HIV being a widespread virus in Ghana, we also spent time with new mothers and mothers-to-be who had HIV, and performed regular checks of their health both during and after pregnancy.
Our time in Ghana is something we will always remember, and is something that we continue to take with us now that we are qualified nurses. It is experiences like this that are eye opening, and make us fortunate for the healthcare that we are able to provide in our country. But also makes us see how incredible the nurses and health care professionals are in Ghana that do their ultimate best to save the lives of their patients with the resources and knowledge that they have.