Marj’s Presentation at the Ghana Physicians and Surgeons Conference

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.

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