In the beginning of February 2013, I will be departing for the red, dusty country of Ghana in West Africa to work as a labor doula. I have been placed at the Margo Maternity Clinic, about an hour from the capital city, Accra.
The Margo Maternity Clinic is one of the largest in the district, serving about 70 patients a day. Most patients are women and children who are there for a general or prenatal checkup or for labor and delivery. A general checkup would include malaria and malnutrition screening, a blood pressure check, and looking at any other emergent issues. Prenatal checkups include many of the same things, though focus more on the pregnancy itself.
Like many health centers in Ghana, the Margo clinic is sparsely furnished in terms of modern equipment. The lack of funds is also an issue. In Ghana, families must pay on the spot for any expenses that arise, from the IV medications and sutures to the motorcycle taxi ride to the clinic. This will be quite an intense trip for me, I am sure-- I am most familiar with the reassurance that there is a well equipped operating theater down the road and adequate trash disposal facilities at the hospital. Working in such a different climate-- during their dry season!-- will also be quite a contrast to Vermont's chilly winters. Despite the adjustments I will undoubtedly have to make in my expectations and actions, I feel so fortunate to have this opportunity to engage in Ghanaian culture in a way that is so closely connected to my passion: being involved in healthcare.