Frequently Asked Questions

What is our Mission?

What is our Mission?

To achieve contemporary level of neurological and neurosurgical care that will be effective, efficient, self-sustaining, and provide educational, training and research resources for that entire region of some 275 million people. Travel outside of the region for specialized care will no longer be necessary, resulting in a positive impact on the local economies and retention of local specialists.


What is this Foundation About?

What is this Foundation About?

It is about helping people from West Africa suffering from conditions affecting the brain or the spine/spinal cord get an equivalent level of care that is available to patients in developed countries closer to home, using local resources and with the collaboration of local “champions” willing to work hard to make recognizable progress in this somewhat “neglected” area of health care.

Neuroscience is concerned with all parts of the nervous system, from the brain to the spinal cord and nerves, as well as the structures that contain them (skull and spine). Conditions commonly affecting the nervous system in West Africa are similar to those in developed countries (such as trauma with hemorrhage and/or fracture, stroke, tumours, seizures, hydrocephalus and spina bifida). Early treatment of these conditions can lead to a good outcome and a productive life. However, in West Africa, the limited resources and the small numbers of trained individuals makes obtaining timely treatment very difficult.

KBNF is addressing a need that is often the cause of the loss of highly valued professionals (such as teachers, judges and health care workers) in short supply in these developing countries. Stroke, (hemorrhagic and non hemorrhagic) and hypertension are particularly common conditions in individuals age 40 and up. KBNF is thus bringing attention to a series of treatable conditions that are not currently a major focus of the World Health Organization.


Why West Africa? Why Ghana?

Why West Africa? Why Ghana?

The first request for neuroscience education and support came from a Ghanaian physician in 2000. Ghana has many attributes:

  • Ghana is a progressive and democratic society, situated in the middle of West Africa (WA), south of the Sahara.
  • Has a free press, has been peaceful for two decades, and is English-speaking, but with several local dialects.
  • Has gender equity for opportunity.
  • Uses an open-business and free enterprise model.
  • Boasts a teeming port of access called Tema. Just like Vancouver and Seattle are gateways to the countries of the Pacific Rim, Ghana is considered the gateway to the WA region.
  • Multinational companies already operate in Ghana and are beginning to make a positive economic impact.
  • Is favoured by the G7 nations and has received debt forgiveness because of its demonstrating accountability, transparency and credibility internationally.
  • Is ideally placed geographically to serve not only its citizens but also the entire WA region.
  • The first mission was conducted in 2002. Missions continue bi-annually in Ghana, Nigeria, Liberia and Sierra Leone. The collaboration with dedicated West African medical champions energizes KBNF’s commitment to advancing sustainable neuroscience care within West Africa.


    Why Focus on Neuroscience with so many cases of HIV/AIDS, malaria, water-borne diseases and TB in Africa?

    Why Focus on Neuroscience with so many cases of HIV/AIDS, malaria, water-borne diseases and TB in Africa?

    There are many awesome foundations, NGO’s and non-profits combatting HIV/AIDS, malaria, water-borne diseases and TB. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation initiatives (Global Fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria) are dealing with these problems.

    We are one of the only foundations actively focussing on Neuroscience. Stroke survivors need help, too. Patients with tumours need surgery, hydrocephalus needs to be treated, motor vehicle accidents cause head injuries, which need to be dealt with.

    The regional Governments are beginning to pay attention to the incidence and prevalence of heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and illnesses affecting the nervous system (such as stroke, epilepsy, trauma, tumors, brain and spinal abscesses, meningitis, the all too common degenerative spinal conditions, and congenital illness, to name a few) which combined, debilitate their young and otherwise productive citizens. For example, our recent missions have revealed that up to 30% of medical admissions to hospital are due to stroke.

  • A girl of 15 has a completely benign brain tumour; in spite of successful surgical removal she dies post-operatively; something that would have been totally preventable if the tumour had been dealt with on time locally or in a better-equipped centre.
  • A brother of one of our Foundation members living in Accra suffers from a seizure disorder and dies without the necessary treatment at the age of 42.
  • A 57 y.o. senior judge is sent home from the emergency ward without medical support, to face the consequences of a devastating stroke.

  • How Did KBNF Start? Why KBTH as the Origin Point?

    How Did KBNF Start? Why KBTH as the Origin Point?

    Dr. Thomas Dakurah, the first Ghanaian to graduate from the Neurosurgery training program at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH, Accra, Ghana) and be certified by the West African College of Surgeons, was given the opportunity by the Federation for International Education in Neurological Surgery (FIENS) and the government of Ghana to complete a year’s fellowship (i.e. sub-specialization) in 1999-2000 under the direction of the University of BC Neurosurgery Division and its chief Dr. Felix Durity. Over the course of that year, it became very apparent that Thomas had a tremendous heart for his people and a deep commitment to becoming the best that he could be in spite of scant resources at home. After he requested the help of Marjorie Ratel RN BSN in educating and training his nurses and providing equipment and supplies, upon his departure, a small group began to pursue tangible support for his neurosurgery team. A founding team of nurses quickly evolved into a team of surgeons, health administrators, Ghanaian leaders and community supporters, engineers, health planners and members of the construction community. After a Ghanaian national launch hosted by Thomas and Marj Ratel and endorsed by the Canadian High Commissioner His Excellency Mr. Jean-Pierre Bolduc at the Canadian High Commission in Accra in 2002, the Korle-Bu Neuroscience Project became international. The Korle Bu Neuroscience Foundation (a British Columbia non-profit society) and its related Canada Revenue Agency registered charities (Korle-Bu Foundation and Excellence in Africa Neuroscience and Health-Canada) were born shortly after.


    Canadian Connection to KBTH

    Canadian Connection to KBTH

    Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra, Ghana, was built on the legacy left by the forward-looking, well-respected and still-revered-today Canadian-born, British Governor of Ghana, Sir Frederick Gordon Guggisberg (1869-1930), who in 1923 opened the national hospital, first named the Gold Coast Hospital and later the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital. At that time it was the envy of the entire West African region. He believed in the full potential of the African people, and that Korle-Bu could be a leading world-class hospital, and given the right resources, empowered Ghanaians would be fully capable of self governance. Why did he have such faith in the African people? He had served as the land surveyor for the Gold Coast (1902-1908), and trekked the land for years with African guides that convinced him they could learn if taught. Eventually sending his British surveying team home, he continued his journey with an African team that he felt was far superior to his own men. Meeting the villagers, the children, the elders, the people, day by day, he began to appreciate their ability, IF given the right resources. Returning as Governor in 1919 and serving until 1927, he birthed the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, as a tertiary training centre for the nation believing it could be a world class centre. He set the stage for a strong national identity and indeed Ghana was the first sub-Saharan country to realize its independence in 1957.
    His statue stands at the entrance to the hospital.


    Who is Involved?

    Who is Involved?

    At its inception, many notable individuals from Ghana and Canada participated in the creation of KBNF and its early missions to Ghana, including government officials from both countries, University of Ghana and Korle Bu Teaching Hospital executives, professionals in various branches of health care, especially neuroscience health care.

    The current members of the Boards of Directors of the three entities (KBNF, KBF, EANH-C) and the members of the Executive Committee can be found under “About”.

    These committees currently include Canadians, Americans and Ghanaians. Nigerians and Liberians participate in the missions as well as being the local “champions” for our efforts.

    KBNF is a member of the G4 Alliance, which is dedicated to building political priority for surgical, obstetric, trauma and anaesthesia care
    as part of the global development agenda and the World Health Organization’s Global Initiative for Emergency and Essential Surgical Care (GIEESC)


    Can We Guarantee Transparency and Fiscal Responsibility in Handling Donated Funds?

    Can We Guarantee Transparency and Fiscal Responsibility in Handling Donated Funds?

    Donors can be assured that we are wholly committed to fulfilling the mandate of our mission and that we are accountable financially. We believe transparency is critical to our integrity and the credibility and outcome of our efforts. Being a Volunteer-Based organization, we pay minimal salaries, and keep our overhead costs as low as possible. A donation to KBNF is a donation that counts dollar for dollar in a beautiful way.

    Transparency

  • A Finance Committee and a financial comptroller oversee disbursements of funds. Disbursements must be approved by the Executive Committee.
  • Three Canadian charities are associated with our work, namely the Korle-Bu Neuroscience Foundation (a British Columbia non profit society, formed in 2003) the Korle-Bu Foundation (a Canadian public charity) and Excellence in Africa Neuroscience and Health-Canada (the operating charity) both established in 2005.
  • Financial reports for all three charities are audited annually.
  • Financial reports form part of the Annual General Meeting of each charity, with input from members welcome.
  • The charities are represented by two well respected Vancouver law firms (who file the charity reports with the BC government (Bruce Preston for KBNF) and the Charities Directorate of the Canadian government (Blake Bromley, Benefic Group for KBF and Excellence in Africa Neuroscience & Health-Canada).
  • Fiscal responsibility

  • All work is currently provided on a volunteer basis (i.e. no paid employee).
  • Consultants have been hired for specialized KBNF work on a few occasions. However, many consultants give much of their time without charge, or at a much reduced cost. For example, the Master Plan for the College of Health Sciences of the University of Ghana was produced by at much reduced cost by the firms Cohos Evamy of Calgary and Resources Planning Group of Vancouver in 2010; the University of Ghana Teaching Hospital (a 600+ bed specialist hospital on campus in Legon, an northeastern district of Accra) is the first facility being built using this Plan by the Ghana government, is currently under construction and is expected to open in late 2015-early 2016.
  • Partnerships

  • Sisterhood Agreement between Vancouver General Hospital and Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital (2001)
  • Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Ghana- Canada Association of BC (2006)
  • An MOU with DrUMM (Doctors for United Medical Missions, an American charity), was signed in 2008, to facilitate donations from the USA.

  • What About Facilities, Education, Training & Research?

    What About Facilities, Education, Training & Research?

    Well-trained on-site local neuroscience professionals are the most critical component in creating the self-sustaining, high-quality type of care required by patients afflicted with diseases of the brain and spine. KBNF’s efforts to date have included the following:

  • Educational upgrading with hands-on training in neuroscience care at Vancouver General Hospital of four Ghanaian nurses in 2004 – A disciplined approach to work was taken home as well as new knowledge and experience.
  • This was followed by KBNF members teaching in Ghana at Neuroscience conferences at KBTH (2011 and 2012) and also presenting at the weeklong Medical Knowledge Fiesta of the Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons ( 2011, 2012)
    Following an Internal Review of the KBTH Radiology Department, its Radiology Residency Program and its associated Radiography program (2011), one KBNF member was hired as a Visiting Radiology Consultant by KBTH to help improve the Radiology Department; eighteen months were spent working in this department with the consultants, residents and technologists (2012-13). In addition to presentations at the Bi-Annual Radiographers Conference (2012) and the Annual Ghana Association of Radiologists Conference and Scientific Session (2013), a three day Neuroradiology conference was held for local radiologists, otolaryngologists, ophthalmologists and their residents (2013).
  • Trips by Canadian team members to mentor and support Ghanaians , both in neurosurgery and biomedical engineering (2002-04, 2009) were followed by additional Neurosurgical Medical Mission teams composed of Canadians, Americans and Nigerians (Ghana and Nigeria (2009) and Liberia (2012 and 2014).
    Elaboration of numerous documents to support the construction of a Neuroscience Centre of Excellence for KBTH has included a Project Brief (2005), a Sustainability Program (2006), a Functional Program (2007) and a Facility Program (2008).
  • Elaboration of Master Plans for the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital site and for the College of Health Sciences of the University of Ghana’s Legon Campus (2010) (see result at 9.2). Renovations are underway at KBTH for a new Emergency Centre that will combine the separate Accident Centre and the Surgical/Medical Emergency Department (occupancy 2016). The Plans were used by the Government of Ghana to secure the loans required for these two projects.
  • At its request, KBNF has collaborated since 2010 with the National Resource Council of Canada on its neurosimulator project (Neurotouch). KBTH was chosen as an overseas site to test its long distance mentoring of a procedure called 3rd ventriculostomy (used to treat hydrocephalus without a shunt catheter; a very useful procedure where follow-up of patients with a shunt is problematic). The experience of training local surgeons ( neurosurgeons and others) carried out in early 2014 was successful. KBNF would like to provide KBTH with a complete neuroendoscope, in order to make this procedure available. The cost of this equipment is in the $40,000 USD range.

  • What Can I Do?

    What Can I Do?

  • Make a Donation
  • Join our team: Become a member
  • Give of your time and resources: Network on behalf of the future of Africa, encourage formal educational partnerships
  • Volunteer your professional expertise: Make it “a vacation with-a-purpose” or a sabbatical.
  • Contact us at: 1.877.468.6380 (toll free) or E-mail:info@kbnf.org
  • Korle-Bu Neuroscience Foundation has done incredible things with few financial resources. Through the dedication of volunteers, partners and friends, KBNF is changing the face of health care in West Africa, by equipping Champions in their Homelands with the resources and education they need to serve the West African peoples.

    While You Wait

    Please Donate! We’re revamping our website to better get our message across. Your contribution helps our volunteers bring world class medicine to West Africa.