2017 PFIG Recipient Grace Patrice Anyeti-Anum
Journal Entry #1
TELEMEDICINE IN KOFORIDUA
I have now lived parallel lives in Ghana and the United States. And despite the many differences that exist between the two countries, one commonality is the pursuance of knowledge and the passion for serving others. Having lived in these two nations, I have observed first-hand the numerous lives that are continually being saved and improved due to the voluntary actions and service of others. Seeing this sparked a fire within me to embark on a journey of volunteering with Citadel Foundation Kids (CFK), a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of ordinary Ghanaian children. Under the Yedea (which translates to “ours” in Twi) program with CFK, I am volunteering as a healthcare and education intern. As a healthcare intern, I am responsible for collecting data through interviews on telemedicine, analyzing this data, and building a business model for telemedicine based on the data I collected. As an education intern, I am responsible for teaching fifth and sixth graders entrepreneurship and equipping them with the skills necessary to build a business and change the world.
Currently, I am working on introducing telemedicine services to Ghana. Telemedicine, as the name implies, is the use of technology and the internet to conduct remote diagnosis of patients in rural areas without access to healthcare. Using telemedicine, I am hoping to achieve two things: (1) increase access to physicians without having to travel long distances and; (2) reduce waiting times at the hospital.
This week, I started by collecting data through interviews to assess whether Ghanaians would embrace the concept of telemedicine, and how best we could implement telemedicine in Ghana, precisely, Koforidua. By interviewing these patients, most of them being pregnant women, I have come to understand the present Ghanaian healthcare system as it is: the frustration of having to wake up at 5 am just to make it to the hospital in time, the pain of waiting in a queue for over three hours to see a doctor, and the heartbreak of losing a child due to the lack of medical equipment and personnel. This experience has created in me an even stronger desire to implement telemedicine in Ghana and thus improve lives.
Apart from shedding light on the healthcare system in Ghana, this interviewing process has helped me to discover more about Ghana. Being born into a family where my father was a doctor, and my mother, an accountant, left me predisposed to thinking all Ghanaians could speak, read, and write English on some basic level. However, on conducting interviews this past week, I noticed the high illiteracy rate in Ghana since most of my interviews were carried out in Twi. In fact, further research proves that the illiteracy rate in Ghana is at a staggering 38 percent, a revelation which hits home because rising levels of illiteracy usually correlate with higher levels of ignorance, poverty, and diseases. Hence, a critical aspect of my telemedicine model is to have bilingual nurses, proficient in English and Twi, assist with communication between patients and doctors. This would ensure that the needs of patients are well understood.
I had never considered my ability to speak two Ghanaian languages- Twi and Ga- a great accomplishment, but upon my interaction with patients, I realized they were indispensable tools. Without this ability, I probably would not have been able to fully understand the worries, pain and suffering some of my interviewees were facing. Furthermore, being put in a position where my interviewee could speak only Twi, and my American partner only English, I suddenly became a vital link between the two. The ability to speak a language other than English enabled me to help them traverse their language chasm and bridge the gap between these two different cultures.
It has been an amazing first week so far, and I have learned a great deal. Starting next week, I will be interviewing health care workers to receive feedback from them on how to best implement telemedicine in Koforidua. I will also meet up with Ghanaian Nursing School students to analyze the data collected and propose ways of making a feasible model of telemedicine in Ghana. Lastly, my education internship starts next week and am excited to meet my students!
Journal Entry #2
These past three weeks have been eye opening for me. I collected data from health practitioners regarding their perspectives on telemedicine. I also met up with a group of Ghanaian students to analyze the data my team, and I collected. Together, we plan on building a working model for telemedicine; a model that would best suit the needs of Ghanaians.
To enable us to develop this model, we were given a three-day intensive class lesson on Design Thinking by Professor Cleckley, our faculty advisor who is with us in Ghana. Using the five pillars of design thinking, i.e., empathize, design, ideate, prototype, and test, my team and I were able to come up with a model of telemedicine that the average Ghanaian man would understand and utilize. Our current model of what telemedicine would look like in Ghana includes an app that patients can use to book a health appointment. By using this app, a patient would avoid waiting in long queues just to see a doctor. Another part of our model includes equipping rural clinics with a telemedicine room. A telemedicine room is a room equipped with a computer that has a web camera and access to the internet. A nurse, using these tools, can connect a patient to a doctor in an urban area and thus prevent the patient from traveling long distances. In depth information about our model can be found using the following link. https://prezi.com/p/zurmghtg9q03/
As I mentioned earlier, I also intern as an instructor for Entrepreneurship at Wesley International School at Koforidua.Teaching in Koforidua so far has been a pleasant and humbling experience. I walked into my class the first day to meet glowing and curious eyes staring at me. As soon as I entered, I was greeted by the generic greeting every teacher receives as he or she walks into a class filled with children "Goodmorning teacher!" As soon as I heard this, for a second, I froze. Flashbacks of my life as a fifth grader flew before my eyes, as I remembered greeting my teachers the exact way these children greeted me. Remembering how my teachers would respond back then, I replied effortlessly, "Good morning class, how are you doing?" "We are fine, thank you, and you?" the students replied "Am also fine, take your seats" I replied.
After this brief introduction, I introduced myself to the class and made them aware of the fact that I was going to be their entrepreneurship instructor for the next four weeks. I still remember their happy smiles as I described what the next few weeks were going to look like; days filled with how to bring their ideas to life.
Currently, my students have been divided into five groups. They are working on ways to solve problems that exist in their school. Some of the challenges identified by my students include the lack of comfortable chairs in class, lack of books in the library, insufficient number of bowls and plates in class, leaking tanks in school as well as lack of proper sanitation.
This is how these past three weeks have been. I look forward to going out next week to test my telemedicine model, as well as helping my students find solutions to existing problems in school.
Journal Entry #3
more information coming soon...