Korle-Bu Neuroscience Club – Victoria

We are always so pleased to hear of university students eager to support our neuroscience projects in West African. Our University of Victoria students are raising interest and awareness on behalf of KBNF. Join Bernard Osei, President of KBNC, and our KBNF family in extending a big congratulations to our dear students for all these wonderful developments!


West Africa and Strokes

Here is an article that I read recently on people dying from strokes in Ghana.

I am so pleased to note that awareness is being raised in Ghana regarding the mammoth challenges and tragedies many, many Ghanaians (and West Africans) are having, particularly in the realm of strokes. There is much that needs to be done and we are committed to partnering with West Africa in prevention, being proactive, and offering effective treatment of these devastating brain attacks.

Jocelyne mentions that salt is a staple in their diets that needs to be reduced and will likely help. Struggling with high blood pressure is often a precursor to stroke. So much can be done . . .

The loss of one contributing adult in West African society is a critical loss. Why? Because those countries, with meagre resources, have invested in that life and their loss may impact an entire family’s viability, a community, and a nation. One tragic example is our loss of the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital Head Physiotherapist, at the age of 57. There are so few rehabilitation specialists anywhere in Ghana or West Africa. His loss was devastating.

Please partner with us to reduce strokes. Many lives depend on it.


Reducing Strokes in West Africa

Here is an article that I came across recently regarding young people having strokes in West Africa.

I am so pleased to note that awareness is being raised in Ghana regarding the mammoth challenges and tragedies many, many Ghanaians (and West Africans) are having, particularly in the realm of strokes. There is much that needs to be done and we are committed to partnering with West Africa in prevention, being proactive, and effectively treating these devastating brain attacks.

Jocelyne mentions that salt is a staple in their diets that needs to be reduced and will likely help, singlehandedly, many struggling with high blood pressure, often a precursor to stroke. So much can be done …

The loss of one contributing adult in West African society is a critical loss. Why? Because those countries, with meager resources, have invested in that life and their loss may impact an entire family’s viability, a community, and a nation. One tragic example is our loss of the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital Head Physiotherapist, at the age of 57. There are so few rehabilitation specialists anywhere in Ghana or West Africa. His loss was devastating.

Please partner with us to reduce strokes. Many lives depend on it.


Health Insurance for Trip to Africa

Christina and I recently returned from a trip back east. Bernard Osei is now fully married and his wedding was just lovely. Well done, Bernard!

We had a wonderful dinner with HE Darren Schemmer (past High Commissioner to Ghana) and his wife Heather, in Ottawa. In the two to three hours we visited, Heather informed us of a superb health insurance program available for anyone staying in West Africa, run by a company in Germany. The organization is called West African Rescue Association. She mentioned that this is what their family and embassy staff faithfully subscribe to when in West Africa, and that in fact, when it has been required, has been an absolutely amazing resource, extremely professional and competent.

Heather said that this program was instrumental in saving their servant’s young daughter’s life. They take care of everything. Picking you up anywhere you are by helicopter, prearranging where there is expert support for your crisis, including what hospitals have functioning equipment, quality physicians, beds, etc. and taking care of all the details including paying for your needs upfront. She can’t recommend them any higher.


Advancing West African Health Care

President Johnson-Sirleaf informally requested support for the medical school at a reception held in our honour. During my visit to Connaught Hospital, Freetown, Sierra Leone, I encountered a continued need to collaborate in an enhanced vibrant partnership between West African hospitals and schools. In discussion with Prof. Afua Hesse, Director of Medical Affairs, KBTH, Accra, Ghana, KBTH and KBNF propose the commencement of a two-day conference, set for early November 2012, to be held at KBTH. We would be honoured to have in attendance the Administrators (Chief Executive Officers, Chief Medical Officers, and Deans of the pertinent Medical Schools) of the Connaught, JFK, UBTH and KBTH hospitals and medical schools in attendance. The agenda would include discussion of where the various centres are at in terms of development, what are their challenges and strengths, and what is their vision in the next 5 — 10 years. KBTH would facilitate accommodation and food and provide a meeting venue.


West Africa Must Attract the Brightest Stars

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.


KBNF Education and Training Update

Dr. Cain, Bernard Osei and I met for the second time with numerous individuals at the Montreal Neurological Institute on March 12th 2010, just prior to the last AGM. Opportunities for training students in research methods were identified but require self funding, while medical and or surgical residencies require payment of an administrative fee to McGill University on top of the salary, similar to UBC, making it financially prohibitive to train Ghanaians in Canada.

The most tangible KBNF educational accomplishment in the past year is the 6.5 weeks of training in Neuropathology spent at Vancouver General Hospital, under the supervision of Dr. Wayne Moore and Dr. Katarina Dorovini-Zis in October and November 2010 by Dr. Richard Gyasi, Head of the Pathology Department of the University of Ghana Medical School. This was orchestrated by Dr. Durity and achieved after more than five months of delays, due to new Canadian visa requirements and new BC College of Physicians and Surgeons educational license requirements. Dr. Gyasi met his objectives, to establish new collaboration for training and research in Neuropathology between VGH and KBTH, in order to improve the services available at KBTH, especially for neurosurgery. Improved staining protocols, changes in procedures and enhancements to Pathology residency training were implemented soon after his return. This visit is to serve as a prelude for future Neuropathology training of highly selected Ghanaian pathologists for 3-6 months at VGH.

Dr. Lutterodt has been trying to assess the level of enthusiasm for the need for a Neurology training program among colleagues in Ghana, in view of the high incidence of stroke and seizure disorders and the very few neurologists currently practicing in Ghana. So far, such a training program has no implementation date from the Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons.

I attended the 2nd annual Conference on Surgery and Anaesthesia in Uganda, held at Vancouver General Hospital on April 2nd 2011, with Dr. John B. Sampson, president of our affiliate, DrUMM (Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, MD). The same issues about training, education and retention of health care personnel exist in Ghana/WA and in Uganda/EA. Exchanges of visiting faculties integrated to the needs of the local curricula, Skype training sessions and partnerships between training programs associated with a reasonable career path for graduates were deemed to be ways of improving the availability of local medical and health care worker expertise.

Dr. Paul King (KBNF member) and I attended the 9th Annual African Health Care Summit of the Ghana Physicians and Surgeons Foundation, held in Atlanta April 15-17, 2011. Its focus was on “Continuing Medical Education and Healthcare Maintenance.” Speakers included the new rector of the Ghana College of P+S, the former Dean of the School of Medical Science, Kumasi, and the chair of the Ghana Medical and Dental Council. Ghana has now made CME a requirement for medical license renewal. The GPSF will work with the Ghana College to facilitate the credentialing of North American physicians wishing to participate in training of Ghanaians in Ghana.

KBNF is participating in two upcoming educational conferences in Ghana in the next five months. First, President Marjorie Ratel will be teaching Critical Care Nursing in May in Accra, invited by DrUMM. Then, a CME conference sponsored by the Ghana College of P+S will be held in Accra on August 1-5, 2011, with the assistance of the GPSF, Africa Medical Partners and KBNF. Dr. Thomas Dakurah (KBNF-Ghana), Dr. King, Dr, Martinson Arnan (a Ghanaian neurologist currently completing his Neurology residency at Johns Hopkins) and I are making presentations in the neuroscience portion of this conference. I have been participating in the planning sessions with GPSF since January.

Further discussions with the University of Ghana will take place to facilitate more collaboration for training and student exchanges during this latter trip, as many requests from North American students for electives in Ghana are being received.

 


Report on Conference on Surgery and Anesthesia in Uganda

Dr. Jocelyne Lapointe, Dr. John Sampson and Joanna Ashworth, Director, SFU

Dr. Jocelyne Lapointe, Dr. John Sampson and Joanna Ashworth, Director, SFU

April 2, 2011 Vancouver General Hospital, Vancouver, B.C.

This 2nd conference, hosted by the UBC Branch for International Surgery, held to enhance surgical care partnerships in Uganda through strategic collaboration, brought together over 80 professionals (physicians, nurses, social workers, administrators, etc.) from Canada, the USA and Uganda, to discuss how to foster strong scholarly collaborations, how to meet the challenges of developing a strong health care system, how to scale responsibilities (ex.: shift tasks to non-physicians) and how to create strong egalitarian partnerships.

Because similar challenges face KBNF in Ghana and West Africa (Uganda being in East Africa, on the western border of Kenya), Dr. John Sampson, Neuro-anesthesiologist and President of DrUMM (KBNF’s USA partner) and Dr. Jocelyne Lapointe, Neuroradiologist and KBNF Chair of Education attended the meeting.

Some of the ways discussed to advance the vision and mission of our organizations include:

  • Creating partnerships with medical, nursing and allied health training programs and integrating the needs of the curricula with visits from overseas volunteers. These collaborations must benefit the African institutions, in particular their infrastructure and their research capabilities. Reciprocity between institutions would be ideal.
  • Because primary training in Europe and North America does not result in an increase in trained individuals on home ground, short training periods with very specific skills sets would be useful, in addition to training as close to home as possible.
  • Reasonable career paths for graduates and sustainable income for professionals need to be addressed by local governments for retention to occur.
  • Use of teleconferencing (Skype) and coordinating committee (Google Calendar) to help avoid repetitions/redundancies and to promote transparency, to foster mutual respect and advance mutually agreed to goals.