Guest Blog Post – White Ribbon Alliance Donates Mammogram Machines

Below is a guest blog post from Maureen A. McTeer from White Ribbon Alliance (Canada).

Once again the White Ribbon Alliance (Canada) and the Canadian Foundation for Women’s Health teamed up to assist women in Ghana. Two years ago, with the generous donation of hospital supplies and medical equipment from Food for the Hungry Canada’s medical arm IMED in Saskatoon, a maternity ward was equipped at the Korle Bu tertiary care hospital in the capital, Accra. This year, thanks to a generous donation of four mammogram machines from Dr. Murray Miller of Mississauga, Ontario (Canada), we were able to provide two mammogram machines for the Korle Bu and one each to the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi and the Tamale Teaching Hospital in Tamale, Ghana. The four machines sent this year will replace the only working mammogram machine at Korle Bu — a gift from Japan in 1992. Canada’s High Commissioner to Ghana, H.E. Mrs. Trudy Kernighan, officially handed over the machines to Prof. Nii Otu Nartey, CEO of the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital earlier this spring.

A new addition for this project was the training of two professional technicians from Korle Bu, who were flown to Toronto to train with professionals in Mississauga in how to assemble and service the sophisticated machines. Bruce Shaw, President and CEO of Xtron Imaging Inc. in Mississauga, Ontario, accepted both the responsibility and the cost for the training, a saving of over $20,000 to our group. Pastor Ransford Obeng-Gyamfi of Brampton, Ontario, generously offered technicians Jerry Hanson and Kekeli Kennedy accommodation during their week in Canada, which included a trip to Niagara Falls and dinner with members of Pastor Ransford’s Congregation.

So many people worked together on this project to ensure that Ghanaian women will have access to top diagnostic tools for breast screening to detect and diagnose breast cancer. These include Naomi Strasser, president of Arial Communications Group in Toronto, who introduced us initially to Dr. Murray Miller; Dr. Miller, himself, who generously donated the four mammography machines; H.E. Mrs. Trudy Kernighan, Canadian High Commissioner to Ghana and the staff of the High Commission in Accra; Bruce Shaw and his staff, including Brent Shaw and Crystal Mauer, at Xtron Imaging Inc., who trained our two Ghanaian professional technicians; Pastor Ransford and his Congregation at the Church of Pentecost Canada (Brampton) who housed and cared for them both during their week-long stay here; Ottawa philanthropist and women’s health advocate, Shirley Greenberg who once again covered the costs of shipping the machines from Toronto to Accra, as well as paying for the airfare and expenses of one of the technicians; another private donor from Deloitte (Ghana) who asked to remain anonymous, but who donated air miles and paid the $1000 cost of taxes on the cost of the second flight; Carol Mitchell, author, Denyse Campeau and her team at the CFWH for all their administrative help and ongoing partnership with us; Marjorie Ratel, President Korle-Bu Neuroscience Foundation / Korle-Bu Foundation — Canada; Rev. Seth Ayettey, Dr. Afua Hesse, Prof. Nii Nartey, CEO of Korle Bu Teaching Hospital; and finally Heather Johnston and Pamela Heneault, Ottawa, and Dr. Setorme Tsikata, Edmonton, from the WRA (Canada) team.

Thanks to all of you for a job well done!

Maureen A. McTeer, WRA (Canada)


Volunteer and Promotions Committee Report

Raising awareness of our mission, vision and objectives has been a key element of our past year’s focus. I visited the Ghanaian Embassy in Washington, DC, and was graciously received, meeting for several hours with the Ghanaian Ambassador, HE Daniel Ohene Ageykum, and members of his staff. From these discussions, a commitment was procured for support with project development. Expectations include arranging a meeting with the Gates Foundation, pursuing funding for our biomedical engineering program as well as a KBTH neurosurgery unit refurbishment.

Much attention has been placed in recent months on Liberia. As a result, I met with the Liberian Ambassador, HE Mr. William Bull, Sr., and much discussion developed regarding the advancement of education and health care for their recovering nation. An invitation to visit Canada on an official visit has been extended to the President of Liberia, and it is anticipated that the KBNF mission team will meet her in person in June 2012. Our proposal for supporting a visit would involve our raising corporate and private support to train four Liberian medical students in Africa, two in neurology and two in pediatrics.

Danny Moe’s Academy workshops have served to encourage and inspire those who have attended. As a result of these weekly and monthly workshops, we are planning to take them across the North American continent over the next few months. Churches, Ghana associations, embassies, schools, or homes, we are arranging KBNF representatives in various cities to organize events. We believe that as we give a gift to our communities and members, we will be blessed in return.

Newsletters to our donors have been occasional at best. This is an area of opportunity that we are targeting for improvement in 2012. The arrival of Christina Chiu, Executive Assistant, has improved communication and the quality and frequency of circulated news already. The master list continues to require updates and a fundraising software program will soon be online for our foundation to rise to a new level of expertise.

Engaging our volunteers and those that are eager to help within their communities, whether schools, clubs, or churches long term, we are pursuing several avenues to promote KBNF and project work. We recognize that every volunteer needs a participatory role; otherwise they will soon lose viable interest and move on where they feel needed. So brainstorming has provided some genuinely creative ideas.

One fundraiser this year will involve establishing and marketing a greeting card specialty program, designed by our volunteers. Fact finding has revealed that quality African focused sympathy, birthday, Christmas, and inspirational cards are not available — anywhere. Consequently, volunteers are offering to provide lovely pictures, poetry, and inspirational verses, for these cards. We will market them through the schools, through stores and in our communities.

Another fundraiser being considered is a corian cutting board fundraiser. A fact finding investigation has revealed that this is considered a very unique item for sale. Being impermeable to bacteria and a solid long-lasting cutting board, we would engrave Ghanaian symbols and sayings on them. Ghanaians are currently providing networking contacts and ideas for these boards.

A third fundraising event would be a “Walk for the Bu.” Spearheaded by Brenda MacLeod, this would encourage all supporters across the continent to conduct the fundraising walk on the same day and at the same time.

Chart documentation is a passion of ours. We are creating an expert chart documentation system that can contribute to order and length of hospital stay, save costs and lives, and it can arise out of Africa. Research, led by Lisa Cain, is an integral part of this program. This program will be provided free of charge for all Sub-Saharan hospitals. Included are consent forms, standardized care plans, doctors’ orders, checklists and clinical pathways. Our chart committee of nurses and doctors arise internationally from Canada, America, Ghana and Nigeria.

We are encouraged by the faithful support of our members and sponsors — principally you! Without your support, we could not achieve our objectives. With your support, we have been able to achieve a considerable proportion. With much needed additional support, we can transform the West African world!

A physician at a recent conference commented that previously, our objectives seemed like a dream; however now, they have taken on reality. We believe that greater support will be evident in the months ahead, as we continue to reach out with West Africa and partner in transformative developments.


Sophie’s Voice Foundation

Dear KBNF family and friends,

I am delighted to introduce you to Sophie’s Voice Foundation, an organization whose vision and mission is to eliminate spina bifida in Ghana and West Africa. Their proactive objectives are very exciting and we are so pleased to partner with them in this endeavor. Please join KBNF in congratulating James Okula and his wonderful team at Sophie’s Voice Foundation, as they launch the establishment of an international institution, The Center for Spina Bifida Research, Prevention and Policy, in Atlanta, Georgia, at Emory University.

Please click here to read more about their organization.


Communications and Public Relations Committee Report

The communication world is exploding across the globe — 80% of the globe now boasts satellite coverage, with another 15% expected soon. Previously geographically isolated illiterate communities are now cell phone savvy. Social media is a vital component of revolutionizing political landscapes as witnessed in North Africa, the Middle East and beyond. Facebook, the 3rd largest global community, is growing 170 times faster than the fastest growing country in the world. Twitter and tweeting are common terms and practices, especially among the youth and young adults. News goes viral in a matter of seconds, reaching the masses instantaneously. Consequently, expertise in communications for the growth of our foundation and fulfillment of our mission and vision is considered a critical component in our advancement as an international foundation.

Given our desire to raise awareness of KBNF and our project work, we have focused primarily on maintaining a dynamic website, aimed at providing a minimum of three news features, articles and announcements weekly. AHA Creative Strategies, our public relations firm, has been exemplary in ensuring we continue to submit current material. Importantly, many valuable contacts and donations are now arising from our website.

Facebook beginnings commenced earlier this year. Attention to target audiences and having enough worthwhile material daily to keep the reader keenly interested will be a focus of 2012.

This past year, KBNF acquired media attention through an unrelated foundation circumstance that was handled expertly by our PR firm, AHA Creative Strategies. KBNF received admiration and support for the expert handling of the media. We now have developed a proactive media policy for future media enquiries. Media training, provided by AHA, is anticipated this year for KBNF spokespersons.

Over the past 12 years, KBNF has made thousands of contacts and keeping track of everyone has been a mammoth challenge. Bonita Ma and Christina Chiu assisted with updating the North American Ghanaian Church lists this past summer. The communications team has been revising the master database of contacts for the purpose of advancing donor and member involvement. This tedious task is ongoing and we anticipate that with the implementation of DonorPerfect, a fundraising software system, the task of maintaining the contact list will be streamlined.  Much appreciation goes to Norm Glass, Anne Brozenski and Jocelyne Lapointe for their faithful master contact upkeep over the last several years.

Jocelyne, as KBNF Board Secretary, continues to manage the KBNF information account, info@kbnf.org, from Ghana. Christina Chiu, KBNF Executive Assistant, is now receiving all KBNF phone calls and managing administrative matters. She can be reached at christina@kbnf.org. Previously, KBNF executive members managed all email communications through personal email accounts. Recently, three kbnf.org accounts have been established for executive members.

KBNF administrative business cards have been redesigned that harmonize the KBNF brand, and letterhead will soon be available produced in a complementary style.

Christina Chiu joined KBNF in late January as our Executive Assistant, and has embraced a key role in liaising between the executive, members, AHA, stakeholders and the community at large. As KBNF grows, we are indebted to her service in skillfully managing — often times — high volume communication workload.

Recognizing the critical role communications will play in the year(s) to come, we continue to pursue excellence in all facets of communications and in the utilization of communication tools, with the ultimate goal being to raise the human, material and financial resources for critical health care needs in Ghana and West Africa.

A deep heartfelt thank you for the sound and faithful leadership of Derek Agyapong-Poku over the past year. Also, another thank you to Ruth Atherley and Paul Holman of AHA Creative Strategies, for their wise counsel, patience, superb work ethic, and gracious consultant service.


Thank You!

At the 10th Annual Ghana Physicians and Surgeons Foundation Conference in Atlanta recently, I was asked by a physician in the audience if there are “any Ghanaians in Ghana as passionate about our vision and mission as we are?” After taking a breath and giving it a moment’s consideration, I confidently answered in the affirmative. I mentioned Rev. Prof. Seth Ayettey, and many in the audience acknowledged his unique contributions in their lives as medical students and doctors. We honor Seth for his unwavering commitment to his people, and to our foundation family over the past 10 years.

We are so very appreciative for our executive leadership. Derek Agyapong-Poku, Vice-President and Treasurer, expertly took over the finance responsibilities midyear 2011. The time commitment while travelling between Accra and Vancouver and work required immense juggling and focus. Thank you, Derek. Your investment is a tremendous blessing to our foundation and your homeland. Ghana and we are the richer for your devotion.

Our 15th container shipment made its way to Ghana and the University of Ghana, School of Pharmacy. Many thanks to the incredible labours of Brenda and Jocelyne and those hardy volunteers, who took the time to collect, collate, pack, in many cases wash, and load the mammoth donations. Observing their charcoaled smiling faces when the task at hand had concluded reinforces the dedication of our amazing team. Love is packed into these containers. Receiving an unexpected note from Dr. Gladstone Kessie, a rural Ghanaian physician and recipient of one container, he shared that many lives have been saved directly as a result of our container shipment. Dr. Paul King faithfully represents us in Washington, DC, as quality neurosurgery operating suite equipment is being released through the U.S. army. We are indeed blessed.

Many other initiatives are in the works with many volunteering their time and energies. Without your support, both financial, time and expertise, we could not accomplish any of our objectives. We are wholly dependent upon your generosity and faithfulness. Your gifts are life and eternal investments that will doubtless return to each of you 100 fold. Thank you.

We are excited at what lies ahead, as we anticipate partnering together.


KBTH Textbook Donation

On May 10, 2012, Dr. Tony Bell (left) and Jocelyne Lapointe presented Dr. Vincent Hewlett, Head of the Department of Radiology, Korle Bu Teaching Hospital a donation of four textbooks. The books are a gift from Dr. Ric Harnsberger, MD, Professor of Radiology at the University of Utah.

We really appreciate this contribution! It will be so valuable to the radiology residents and physicians as they continue to study.


Shipping Donated Equipment & Supplies to the College of Health Sciences of the University of Ghana

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.

Please click here to see additional images.


Looking Forward

We believe 2012 is a breakthrough year. The analogy of taking off like a jet plane has been replaced by taking off like a rocket. Many avenues of development are being introduced to our foundation and we are open to what God is directing for our organization. The Board of Directors held strategic meetings in the summer of 2011 to revisit our vision, mission and objectives. “Just where are we going and is it where we believe we should be going?” Expertly lead by Ross Dickinson, a KBNF advisor, the final outcome revealed that we are unanimously and truly committed to the continued objectives of this foundation; however, it is now imperative that we take the next step and advance the organization to the next level. This will require members of our team leaving their current employment to focus solely on KBNF objectives. I would like to welcome Christina Chiu, BSc. (First Class Honours) as our newly appointed Executive Assistant. Christina has a Health Sciences degree from SFU and a wonderful heart for missions. She brings youth and vitality along with incredible communication and computer skills to our team. She is manning the phones 24/7 and is pleased to receive your calls and emails.

The KBNF master plans and programs for the University of Ghana College of Health Sciences site at East Legon and the Emergency and Clinical Specialties Centre of Excellence prepared by our expert Project Management team led by Don Jenion have provided the Ghana government the necessary tools to advance to funding of the building phase. The university site hospital has been approved for construction in Parliament. The KBTH Centre of Excellence, with phase 1a funding in place, is expected to have Cabinet and Parliamentary approval shortly. We had the privilege of visiting with Professor John Atta Mills, President of Ghana, last summer. His desire to transition Ghana into a thriving regional leadership is palpable. We applaud Ghana’s acknowledgement that as a democracy, Ghana has the responsibility to influence Africa’s direction as a stable developing continent. We are honoured to partner with Ghana to take a lead in delivering sustainable contemporary health and health care to the region.

Our 2nd annual KBTH-KBNF neuroscience conference at Korle Bu is being planned for this June. KBTH desires to encourage attendance from all regions of the country in this year’s turnout. We are inviting attendance from Burkina Faso, Liberia and Nigeria to join us. We are also planning a fact finding and teaching mission trip for Monrovia, Liberia. We are so pleased that Dr. John Sampson, President of DrUMM and KBNF American affiliate, will be joining us on this journey. The potential for a surgical mission is also available, as Dr. Paul King, KBNF neurosurgeon is open to what God has prepared for us. We anticipate Danny returning to West Africa to teach transformative change to the staff and citizens of the region.

A world-class chart documentation program is being created by KBNF volunteer nurses and doctors. We are delighted to report that Johns Hopkins neuro staff are joining our documentation development committee. We anticipate that the project will be launched at three major West African medical centres this spring.

Expert biomedical engineering is a dire need in Africa. Equipment is not proactively maintained. Parts need replacing but the manufacturer often shows no interest in timely delivery. So equipment languishes and lives are put in jeopardy and die prematurely. We are blessed to have Anders Engstrom, an expert in this field, preparing to set up a program that will commence an ongoing vibrant link with our biomedical team at KBTH and beyond. It requires the financial support of everyone to see this addressed as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Many more objectives are in the works for this year. Watch our website daily for updates.

Upcoming North American tours with Marjorie Ratel, Danny Moe and others may soon be on your doorstep!


New Beginnings

“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.”