In August 2011, KBNF, in partnership with the University of Ghana, College of Health Sciences, School of Medicine, Anatomy Department, established a Neuroscience Research Graduate Program for West Africa. Providing West African nationals with a lifelong commitment to remain at home and practice their skill sets at contemporary international levels is of critical import to us. Education and training is critical in order to retain the brightest specialists and scientists. Historically, training for years abroad for West African students generally birth emigrants, intentional or unintended. Seldom do those nationals return home to fulltime, lifelong service. Consequently, in order to ensure that physicians and cohorts serve their country, we believe that a majority of education needs to be taught in Africa with fellowships arranged abroad and students with servants’ hearts well chosen.
I am so pleased to introduce Prof. Fred Addai, Chair, Anatomy Department, College of Health Sciences, University of Ghana to you all. He is the Chair of our Neuroscience Research Graduate Program and his passion for advancing neuroscience health care in West Africa and around the world is palpable.
We are now able to begin providing Anatomy Department studies for our readership, courtesy of Prof. Addai. Thank you so very much, Fred! I believe these documents and those anticipated in the months and years ahead will be very insightful and encouraging. Through these communications, networking may also enhance developments.
Click here to view the content Prof. Addai has provided so far.
The first offer of beds, hospital equipment and supplies in 2001 by the Vancouver General Hospital was the beginning of an amazing shipping history to Ghana and Nigeria.In the ensuing years, a dozen 40-foot shipping containers containing beds and medical supplies were sent to Ghana. In 2010, a shipment was sent to the University of Benin Teaching Hospital, in Benin City, Nigeria, as a result of the Neurosurgical Medical Mission of November 2009.
In the last 3-4 years, many pieces of laboratory equipment and furniture were received from the Department of Pathology of UBC Hospital, associated with much laboratory glassware, due to the efforts of KBNF member Peter Easthope. They were generously stored, at no cost to KBNF, at the Diamond Delivery Warehouse in Surrey until enough items had been accumulated to fill another 40-foot shipping container. Three dental chairs from Burnaby dentist Dr. Jaspaul Seehra and 10 mechanical beds from the Broadway Pentecostal Lodge augmented the consumable medical supplies, books/ journals, and other items collected from various donors, including Vancouver General Hospital. A group of volunteers spent a Saturday in late November 2011 loading the container at the warehouse. It was full “to the gills” by the time the doors were closed and secured. This container arrived at the Port of Tema in late January 2012.
Because of the diversity of the items shipped, the College of Health Sciences (CHS) of the University of Ghana (UG) (situated on the premises of the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital) was considered a more suitable recipient of the donations, rather than the hospital itself. The Dean of the School of Pharmacy, Prof AC Sackeyfio graciously undertook the responsibility of receiving the shipment and distributing its contents among the various schools of the College, including the Medical School, Dental School, Allied Health (i.e. Medical Radiography, Physiotherapy), Nursing, Pharmacy, Public Health and the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital (where the students from these schools acquire practical experience), with the help of Mr. Blankson of the Department of Anatomy. The unloaded contents were partially stored in the lobby of the College, where a small ceremony to officially receive the gifts was held on Friday, April 13th 2012, by the Provost of the CHS, Prof Aaron Lawson, in the presence of Prof Sackeyfio and representatives of other schools. I made the presentation on behalf of KBNF. Some items will be used on the existing campus while other will help furnish new CHS facilities on the UG campus in East Legon.
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“Not without a cost” speaks of our family’s steadfast commitment. As with any dream, there is always sacrifice. Many members of our team contribute immense hours and days to fulfill the objectives of the foundation. Dr. Jocelyne Lapointe, KBNF secretary and neuroradiologist, embodies that commitment. She has relocated to Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH) to support the development of the radiology department. The journey’s beginnings have not been easy. Challenges abound pursuing a work visa. Yet undaunted, Jocelyne painstakingly makes trip after trip to police headquarters and other government agencies, often travelling slowly for hours at a time on congested city streets, while remaining focused on the bigger picture. Our KBNF trailblazer, I cannot imagine anyone else that could break through these barriers with unremitting patience and unswerving determination. We can be assured that the process will be well defined and well thought-out for future members.
Thank you, Jocelyne, on behalf of our Foundation family and the country of Ghana. Many precious lives will depend upon your commitment. And many team members will take courage and follow in your stead.
August 2011 saw the advent of our annual KBTH – KBNF Neuroscience Conference, held in Accra and was attended by Ghanaians, Nigerians from University of Benin Teaching Hospital, and Liberian nurses. Our expert team of neurosurgeons, specialists, neuro-anatomist, and nurses received very high marks for program content and delivery; in fact, a useful (23.8%) to extremely useful (67.9%) reviews from the attendees with a request of conducting conferences quarterly (18%), semi-annually (33%) and annually (34%). We are indebted to the amazing team that took time away from their families and work and presented in-depth and heartfelt expert presentations.
Another exciting first, the establishment of the Research Neuroscience Graduate Program under the auspices of the University of Ghana School of Medicine’s Anatomy Department, became a reality. Dr. Lisa Cain, KBNF Research Chair, is partnering with Prof. Fred Addai, Chair of Anatomy department, to create an international neuroscience research centre that will impact the world. Our goal of establishing centres of excellence in Africa, build capacity and give the youth an opportunity to advance knowledge and care from their homeland is critical to our objectives. We are moving in the right direction.
Recognizing the importance of serving with your heart, Danny Moe, our motivational speaker par excellence, introduced our African associates to Heart Power. Watering your camels and Solomon’s clothes left such an impression that these cliques became household terms and he was voted the finest feature of the conference. Additional classes were held at the hospital and in various locations in Accra and Kumasi. One class of 35 hospital staff returned on a Saturday morning to take his Dare to Dream: Dare to Do workshop. What we recognize is that without cultural transformation in the industry, the aspirations of a contemporary medical care delivery system cannot truly become a reality. It’s wonderful having specialty skills, but care and respect must be delivered hand in hand. And what is required for the health industry is also critical for the country and our world. Consequently, Danny teaches his academy workshops weekly via Skype to Ghanaians and monthly in Vancouver. Many lives are being irrevocably changed.
Thank you Danny, for your commitment to excellence in all you teach, in your wisdom, your inspiration and in all your actions.
So to learn that transformation of Ghanaian and Nigerian lives is the outcome of our teaching brings a most gratifying reward. Just one example, Dr. Teddy Totimeh, a University of Ghana neurosurgery resident training in Tel Aviv, Israel, sent a message this week: “I still remember talking to Danny about dreams, at a time when it seemed like one of my key dreams, just did not look like [it was] happening. It was an inspiring time… I was reminded that the most important feature of a really life changing dream, is how improbable it seems. Now as I live this dream and face the challenges that come with it becoming true, I am encouraged, that God’s hands in our lives makes dreams come true. Nothing important happens without dreams.”
I bring warm greetings from our KBNF Board and Executive. It is a joy to be here today and to update you all on what is happening in our foundation and in Ghana. I serve as the Founding President and Project Chair for an international neuroscience and health care Canadian charity serving Ghana and West Africa. So why am I hear today? Because I am leading a passionate team of experts, in many fields of health, on a common goal – Vision and Mission.
Born in 1957, I believe it was providential to be birthed the same year Ghana became independent. At five years old I struggled with, did I want to be a missionary or a nurse? I finally chose nursing and the service unfolded at the turn of the century. In 1999 – 2000, a KBTH neurosurgeon serving in a fellowship, asked me one day if I would consider coming to Ghana to train his nurses. I felt in that moment it was meant to be. Within two year, while carrying an agreement of cooperation between VGH and KBTH, signed in Vancouver by our authorities and the Ghana High Commissioner, I travelled to Ghana to launch Korle-Bu Neuroscience Project. Offered land by the Founding Provost of the CHS, to build a neuroscience centre of excellence, I again felt this was divinely meant to be. We have never looked back.
Over the course of 2003 – 2010, our project management team, lead by Don Jenion, determined that hospitals aren’t built on campuses like crazy quilts. There is a master plan. So our team, with the blessing of the Ghana Government conducted a master site review. Next, with the financial partnership of the Ghana Government, we completed a master plan and program for both the KBTH 12-acre site Emergency and Clinical Specialties Centre and the UoG CHS site. Parliament passed funding for the university hospital. An Israeli construction firm was tentatively awarded the contract. Ghana crown agents are conducting a value for money assessment, prior to finalizing the funding. This public hospital will focus on the training of medical students, specialists and staff development, and work alongside KBTH. The KBTH Centre proposal is before Cabinet and anticipated to be before Parliament soon for passage. First phase of funding is committed through the Oil Producing Exporting Countries – including the Arabs Kuwaiti fund, Saudi funds, Badia fund. Our team, including leading hospital architects, planners and managers, are available to support Ghana, as they have requested, as consultants to ensure that the developments are of excellent quality.
Our foundation has shipped 15 containers over to Ghana and one to Nigeria, all successfully received. 1,500 beds, operating room tables, ventilators, anesthesia monitors, bed linens, lab equipment, supplies, have found their way onto their wards and units. A recent container was formally received last week, primarily for the school of Pharmacy at the University of Ghana. Many cartons of textbooks and lab equipment for the students were included. However, in spite of all this, if the equipment is not sustained and well maintained, all these efforts will vastly be in vain. So we are sending over an expert biomedical engineer to commence a long-term collaborative program with KBTH, and begin to make inroads into transforming mindsets on equipment care and training.
One must build a North American standard health care centre alongside health care delivery expertise. Consequently, education, training, and research is critical to any sustainability. However, grappling with how to train national youth so they will remain in their homeland necessitates our educating and training, for the most part, in their homeland. So we are tackling this from several angles. To advance capacity building, we have conducted medical/surgical missions and critical care training missions, both for the nurses, medical specialists, and biomedical technicians, in Ghana and Nigeria. However, my vision to grow an international West African family is a reality, as our Nigerian neurosurgery team in Benin City joins us and the KBTH staff annually in Ghana for conference and medical missions. We are partnering with DrUMM, from Johns Hopkins, in many of these endeavors. I envision KBTH and the UoG as the major satellite centre for training and international conferences in the years to come. We also determine that fellowships and year-long training abroad will help to raise the expertise of our specialists.
In partnership with KBTH, we have begun annual neuroscience conferences; our next to be conducted in June, both at KBTH and JFK Hospital, in Monrovia, Liberia. Our neuroradiologist, Dr. Jocelyne Lapointe, whom spoke here last year, is now serving at KBTH, supporting the developments in preparation for the new centre.
We are preparing to launch a world-class, research-based, chart documentation system for Ghana and West Africa. This is a collaborative project with KBTH, the Critical Care Nurses Association, and with UBTH. Our first trial will begin this spring at Military 37, KBTH and UBTH in Nigeria. I believe that it can be the most excellent documentation system in the world, and will have arisen out of West Africa.
Another area we are tackling is with professional and personal development academy workshops called Heart Power and Dare to Dream: Dare to Do. These have been very well received and are teaching the value of serving, with your heart. If embraced, it is transformative and will take caregiving to a new level. We believe this is a critical part of elevating and sustaining care to North American standards. These are available via Skype weekly for all that would like to join and are free. We are offering these across the continent as well, as we raise awareness of our project developments.
We believe that Ghana can deliver world-class training in all specialties, and be the catalyst and epicenter for West Africa and Africa as a continent. President Mills said on inauguration day: As goes Ghana goes Africa. Ghana recognizes the import of democratic and credible infrastructure development and are reaching for equal recognition and confidence in the world market.
What role can you play? Each of you is a leader and is needed. Committed to their country. One way or another they have links with family, schools, friends. This is the time, like Ezra, for the return of the exiles to repair the broken walls. This is now our moment of opportunity, to take action and prove to the continent and the world that democracy and honesty and integrity works. It is providential that you are where you are now.
Areas where you can serve. We welcome your ideas, especially as we raise funds, check out our table and respond to our questionnaires. Become a KBNF member. Join our volunteer committee. We have several initiatives on the go. Take on supporting one of our projects. What we accomplish does have a cost. Help us raise funding. Even a $1/month x the Ghanaian communities and churches across America can = amazing support. Plan to spend time in Ghana and West Africa in mission work, giving lectures and mentoring the nationals. Share our story. Provide equipment. Represent us in your North American communities. Support our research initiatives/ take on research students.