I was the first student who was able to do my WESP instead of the more common GEZP internship in Damongo. Before I even arrived, this led to a great deal of confusion and more work, as there was athe question of: How does the ethical committee work in Ghana? And also important, how was the financial element of this arranged? In the beginning, I was very hesitant about whether this was worth it or not, but after my very first day in Damongo I had forgotten all about these hesitation and could only enjoy the rest of my trip!
For the first 6 weeks of my internship I was alone in Damongo, and this was something that I really enjoyed. Through this, I was able to get to know the doctors and locals on a personal level, as they would often take me along so that I was never alone in that “big” house. This fast growing relationship with the locals allowed me to learn more about the culture, local traditions, and especially about the strangest foods and cultural dishes. For example, I quickly had the address of a great tailor, Mary, who lived in the village and was able to make a Ghanian dress for me. Tina, who worked both at the bar and in the hospital, taught me how to make fufu. Kojo, the local taxi driver brought me to his mother’s house, where she brews beer, and the doctor would often take us to the market to buy a living chicken to cook that night for dinner.
My research in Damongo focused on care that is given to patients with fluxus (hemorrhagia postpartum). In order to gain more information about this, I conducted interviews with doctors and midwives at the West Gonja Hospital. These interviews were very successful, and the relationships that I built with the staff allowed further connections, as the director of the hospital helped me get in contact with other hospitals, health centers and outdoor departments. I was able to go to these locations with other questionnaires regarding barriers in the WGH that I found, that could also possibly be a barrier in other health centers. I also sat together with these doctors and midwives to brainstorm ideas on how we could possibly improve this situation and provide better care.
My trip allowed me to gain experience in doing research, but also to have more knowledge about the healthcare system in Ghana. For me, the best parts were having the opportunity to shadow professionals in the hospital and to have the opportunity to talk with them about possibilities to alter the current system. What I most noticed during my time there was that people were very critical of their own system, and were very willing to discuss changes and other solutions. However, the issue of money was always present, and that is something that is difficult to change quickly.
Overall, my time in Ghana allowed me to meet amazing people, inspired me, and has given me great memories that I will fondly look back on. If there are other students who are thinking about possibly doing the WESP internship in Damongo and are looking for advice, please feel free to contact me (Or if you are currently doing a GEZP internship and are looking for good travel tips!)!
Read more: Nicolas Peeters: GEZP