This October, Light for Children hosted a volunteer from Brazil for the first time. Fernanda Campos, joined by Sofia Maiorana of Sweden, conducted medical tests for HIV and Hepatitis B, as well as screening people for blood pressure and blood sugar problems. These tests were offered free of charge in local marketplaces, schools and workplaces.
Justice Appau (LIFOC staff) and Fernanda testing at a local market
Sofia and Fernanda testing students and staff at Opokuware Girls Educational and Training Institute
Testing drivers at a Kumasi trotro station
Fernanda also visited the Kumasi office of the Association of People Living with HIV/AIDS to learn more about how antiretroviral therapy is distributed in Ghana.
Antiretroviral therapy is subsidized in Ghana, and the results have been good. The vast majority of patients continue taking their medications as directed by doctors. There is some concern about pregnant women however: women should increase the dosage when they become pregnant, but they do not always tell the doctors that they are pregnant.
Carina Monstad of Norway arrived at the beginning of October to work as a long-term volunteer. She will work on a variety of placements, and is beginning by working at Mampong Babies Home.
Mike attended a meeting of the Coalition of NGOs in Health in Accra to discuss children’s access to essential medications, and some of the barriers they face. According to a report commissioned by Ghana Health Service, these barriers include traditional beliefs about illness, lack of money, and limited physical access to facilities. Low literacy and education levels are also a factor. In order to be considered an “essential” service eligible for government subsidy, a medicine or treatment must be safe, affordable and address a public health issue such as a contagious disease. Unfortunately, many medically necessary treatments are not covered by these criteria.
Mike briefed the group on findings about knowledge, attitudes, beliefs and practices of civil society organizations on access to essential health services.
On October 16, Light for Children attended a meeting on climate change organized by the Ministry of the Environment. The purpose of the meeting was to clarify the actions that the government and other stakeholders are taking to reduce emissions and deal with the issues surrounding climate change.
Light for Children's dream team: Yaw Otchere (Executive Director) and Mike Owusu (Project Coordinator)
This group of girls visited Light for Children's office with questions about sexual health and sexual abuse. At their young age they are already being pressured to become sexually active, and do not have good access to reliable information. Justice was able to answer many of their questions.
At the end of the month, we said goodbye to Fernanada. We thank her for her hard work and especially for drawing our attention to the overlooked problem of high Hepatitis B rates in Ghana. Light for Children is already planning to build on her work by continuing Hepatitis B testing and education with our next group of volunteers.
Fernanda with Lisa Parsons and Yaw Otchere