What’s So Rosy about Garden City?

Carol BalesThe walls. They’re the first thing you notice when you arrive at Garden City University College, a small school in Kumasi, Ghana. They’re painted a pale mauve. During the magic hour, when the sun’s low and red, the building and everyone in it glows.

The women who lead it. We’d come to document the school’s progress toward its goal of graduating more health workers, and we had hours of interviews lined up. Garden City’s leaders are stepping up to help address the country’s shortage of health workers. Ghana has fewer than half the minimum number of doctors, nurses, and midwives recommended by the World Health Organization to provide adequate access to health care.

So school leaders are using CapacityPlus tools to improve school management and identify cost-effective ways to educate more health workers. And we couldn’t help but notice that many of those leaders we met—from the new acting president to the dean of students—were powerful women who #MakeItHappen. Read more »

iHRIS Champions in Ghana Share Success with Using Health Workforce Data

Gracey VaughnLike many of his fellow Ghanaians, Obeng Asomaning wanted to use his skills to help his country. As a new graduate with a degree in health service planning and management, he landed a job at the Ministry of Health’s Regional Health Office in Ashanti Region. Quickly he saw that the office was struggling to access information about the health workforce. How many midwives worked in the regional hospital? How many vacancies were there in Kwabre District? How many health workers will likely retire next year? The paper-based information system yielded no quick answers.

Answers to these kinds of questions are important because the country has a critical shortage of health workers. There are only 13.6 health workers for every 10,000 people, well below the minimum recommended threshold of 22.8 health workers per 10,000 population. To improve the population’s health outcomes, Ghana needs to make the most of the health workforce it currently has while working to increase their numbers. Read more »

Emergency Care Comes into Focus in Ghana

Carol Bales and Gracey VaughnDr. Eno Biney is an emergency medicine specialist at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi, the second-largest city in Ghana. She’s part of a new cohort of health workers that are changing the way emergency care happens in the country.

See Dr. Eno Biney on the cover of Impact magazine. This issue is all about health workers.

“I chose to specialize in emergency medicine because I realized that it was one of the most lacking specialties in our country,” Eno says. “There wasn’t any form of organized emergency treatment of patients.”

Instead, Ghanaians injured in accidents or suffering from medical, surgical, or obstetric emergencies were rushed to feebly equipped emergency care centers that didn’t have specially trained health workers or triaging systems in place. During her medical training, Eno saw the resulting delays in diagnosis and treatment—and lost lives. Read more »

Years of Investments Finally Put Health Workers on the Global Stage

David OlsonThis post was originally published on the Huffington Post’s Social Entrepreneurship Blog.

For almost 10 years, I managed health programs in Africa, Asia, and South America that harnessed social marketing techniques to produce tangible benefits for poor consumers. Our programs made low-cost products such as condoms, contraceptives, and oral rehydration salts available at reduced, affordable prices. We worked mostly through the private sector and were proud of our bottom-line health impact. We didn’t think much about underlying health systems or how to improve them. And if we had, we probably would have dismissed health system strengthening as overly ambitious. Read more »

The Potential Power of Public-Private Partnerships in Ghana

This post was originally published on the IntraHealth International blog.

Ariana KatzGarden City University College is a private nursing school in Kumasi, Ghana, where I spent six weeks this summer assessing the school’s progress toward improving its management practices. During my time at Garden City, I heard from several people that Ghana’s government is reluctant to work with private schools, and concerned that private schools are training subpar nurses.

Hearing this—both from members of the public and from people within the private school—was discouraging. Ghana is one of 57 countries that have a significant shortage of health workers1. In Ghana there are only about 10 nurses and midwives and one physician for every 10,000 people—numbers that fall far below the World Health Organization’s recommendations. Public institutions cannot fill the gap on their own. Read more »

Health Is Wealth

This post was originally published on the IntraHealth International blog.

Meet three men in Africa who share two key beliefs: access to health care for all people is vital, and healthy people build strong economies.

Samuel Nugblega of the Christian Health Association of Ghana believes in helping his country develop economically by improving the health of Ghanaians. “Health is fundamental to everything,” he says. “And from Ghana, we say health creates wealth.” To bring this about, Samuel works to support the health workers who deliver vital services. Read more »

Who Deserves Our Thanks? Health Workers Who Save Lives

Sarah DwyerI’m afraid of snakes. It’s such a clichéd fear that I’m a little ashamed to admit it, but there it is. Hiking on a steep and winding trail recently, I turned a corner and almost stomped on a giant snake. I shudder to think what would have happened if I hadn’t seen it at the last second.

In Accra, Ghana, one person’s reptilian encounter didn’t turn out so lucky. A very poisonous species bit him and he went into shock. The snakebite would have been fatal. Fortunately, a health worker was there to save his life. Read more »

Faith-Based Organizations Tackle Women’s and Children’s Health

Africa Christian Health Associations Meeting participants, Kampala, UgandaIn February 2011 the Africa Christian Health Associations (ACHA) Platform will sponsor the Biennial Africa Christian Health Associations Meeting in Accra, hosted by the Christian Health Association of Ghana. Highlighting faith-based organizations’ work toward achieving Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5, this year’s theme is “Improving Women’s and Children’s Health in Africa: FBO Response Towards the MDG Targets.”

The meeting will bring together over 100 individuals from Christian Health Associations, international FBOs, and nongovernmental organizations to learn how various organizations are tackling these two Millennium Development Goals and brainstorm ways to adapt their interventions for other countries or contexts.

“With Technical Support You Learn to Fish”

Sarah DwyerWorking on the CapacityPlus project, I’m always excited to see capacity-building in action and hear how local leaders are strengthening the health workforce. Recently I learned about a terrific story from West Africa and wanted to help share it.

Building local ability to gather and use data
At the Health Information System Unconference in Accra, CapacityPlus’s Dykki Settle interviewed Kayode Odusote of the West African Health Organization (WAHO). Professor Odusote is helping WAHO’s member countries gather and use health worker data to make decisions about the health workforce.

In this piece from the CapacityPlus Voices series, Professor Odusote talks about a successful pilot in Ghana using iHRIS software. He emphasizes that the capacity-building aspect of WAHO’s partnership with our project is really what he values. “It’s a technical partnership,” he points out, “and basically for me that is much more than money. If you can build a core nucleus of local capacity,” he says, that has everything to do with sustainability. Read more »

Ghana Looking to Score Big on Training Goals

Paul MarsdenAt my hotel in Accra, Ghana, there's a buzz of activity throughout the first week in October, as the national football team—the Black Stars of Ghana—converged for the first home match since their successful World Cup campaign in South Africa. For me, this trip was also a homecoming. Until this past year when I’ve resided in Washington, DC, I’d spent the better part of the last 20 years living in Africa.

However, my trip to Ghana with colleague Anne Wilson was not for football. Our brief was to look at preservice training of the health workforce, with a busy schedule of discussions, meetings, and field visits with stakeholders and implementing partners—including the Ministry of Health, Ghana Health Service, the Health Workforce Observatory, and the main health training schools and teaching hospitals. Read more »

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