Last week, we had the opportunity to have a meeting with a visiting physician from Ethiopia. He has had extensive experience in public health, spending a number of years working in a refugee camp. He also has a wide knowledge of the Volta region and a thorough understanding of the challenges faced by the communities serviced by the H.O.P.E. Center.
Our time talking with him provided us with deep global health insight as well as exciting avenues to take the Center’s outreach programs. For instance, he recommended more efficient ways to train peer educators for the sexual health program. There has recently been a lot of interest among church groups in the area for nurses to give lectures at their facilities. While this is great, it adds an additional work burden on the Center’s staff. Instead, this doctor recommended that we train a few peer educators within the church, who can then train others in their organization. This makes the program more sustainable in that it reduces the work burden on the nurses (who can now become the overseers of the program instead of the ones running the entire show). It also eliminates the need to keep retraining peer educators every year (a problem currently faced in the schools where the sexual health program is running). These principles can be extended to the childhood nutrition program as well: we will need to place more emphasis on making the program sustainable in the communities through peer education and personal farming tactics.
Our discussion provided us with a lot of valuable insight and great ideas to advance this partnership moving forward. The coming weeks will keep us busy working out a concrete partner agreement with the Ghana Health Services, outlining a strategic “5-year plan” for many of the Center’s activities, and developing new ways to advance outreach programs. We all came away from the meeting encouraged, inspired and committed to making our remaining time in Ghana the best that it can be!