University of Leicester 2024

Medical, Ghana Takoradi

Olivia recently spent 6 weeks in Ghana for her medical elective. 

I’ve had limited experience in healthcare settings outside of the NHS, so my main objective for going overseas was to gain exposure and a holistic understanding of Ghana's healthcare system compared to ours in the UK. I was also keen to get exposure to different ‘common’ conditions such as Sickle Cell and Malaria. 

I also love to travel and have never been to an African country before, so combining the two was a great idea! 

When I first saw my placement hospital, I didn’t know what to think. It was strange, different and overwhelming. But, it was also fascinating, eye-opening and exciting. 

The hospital orientation the Work the World team gave me on the first day helped me massively. I had the opportunity to say hello to some of the hospital team before I started my placement and to navigate my way through the hospital. 

Everyone was so friendly and welcoming. You have to be proactive and confident, say hello to everyone and you’ll get on well. 

Observing the differences in healthcare in Ghana compared to the UK was my favourite part of the experience. I knew it would be vastly different to the NHS and it was so interesting to observe this.

The teams’ medical knowledge was amazing and there were many similar practices to those back home. It was the lack of resources, access to healthcare, the cost, and social differences which made the healthcare system in Ghana so different. 

For example, access to emergency drugs was available, but only one dose until the next restock. There was one ECG machine available in the whole hospital. Medical insurance was available, but it only covered a small portion of each cost. For example, a third of the cost for each medication required, a quarter of the cost of any surgery required etc. 

One day I was arriving at the hospital when I saw another Work the World colleague, a paramedic, in a taxi racing towards A&E shouting for me to come and help her. A man was having a seizure in the back of the taxi (a common way to get everywhere in Ghana, including the hospital). We got him into A&E and helped manage him, carrying out vitals and obs. The local doctors helped with emergency medication. It was a great experience to be the first to help, we weren’t even meant to be in A&E that day. 

Another fantastic day during my time in Takoradi was the Community Outreach Day. It’s a once-a-week trip with the opportunity to visit schools to give talks, assist with vaccinations in the community and do home visits too. It was a heartwarming experience. 

We mostly relaxed in the evenings after placement, played cards and socialised at the house. There was plenty to do in Takoradi in the evenings and loads of places to go for a drink. 

During the weekends I went further afield which was incredible. The team helped support us when making weekend arrangements. 

I went on a safari to Mole National Park, Cape Coast, and surfing at Busua. There was so much to do, it’s worth exploring Ghana – it’s an incredible country! 

Work the World was a fantastic organisation to complete my experience with. They gave brilliant support throughout. Everything was well organised, and the Takoradi house family went above and beyond. 

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