The rural community of Nalerigu, northern Ghana, West Africa, is home to the Baptist Medical Center. 400-500 outpatients are seen in each clinic, and the hospital of 120 beds usually runs at over capacity. People coming to Baptist Medical Center are often impoverished. Some of the most common medical problems encountered are malaria, malnutrition, pneumonia, tropical ulcers, hypertension and anemia.
The medical staff of Baptist Medical Center consists of two to three full time American physicians. In addition, a number of other American physicians visit for short periods each year. English is the spoken language of Ghana. The Center also supports a public health ministry that sponsors rural clinics where villagers receive immunizations, health teaching, prenatal clinics and under five clinics.Location
Nalerigu is located near the town of Tamale in the northern part of Ghana, West Africa. The town is in a rural community and has a local market with limited shopping.Transportation
International travelers should fly into Accra, the capital. The Ghana Baptist Mission operates a guesthouse in Accra where travelers can spend the night. An advanced reservation will be necessary. Someone from the hospital will normally meet you at the international airport in Accra.
Travel to Nalerigu may be via road or air. There is a flight that runs on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays. The trip from Tamale to Nalerigu is then two more hours by car. Alternatively, the 500-mile, bus trip from Accra to Nalerigu provides a unique opportunity to see the country up close, but takes about fourteen hours.Visa Requirement
Americans require a visa for entry into Ghana. The visa must be obtained in advance and cannot be received at the airport. Contact the Ghanaian embassy for visa application information: http://www.ghanaembassy.org. Be sure to apply for your visa one - two months in advance. OBTAIN A VISITOR VISA ONLY.Traveler's Health & Safety
Please check the CDC travel website for the most up-to-date health information: http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/default.aspx.
Visitors are advised to regularly check the U.S. State Department website for the most up-to-date information regarding travel advisories: http://www.state.gov/travel. Visitors are advised to regularly check the U.S. State Department website for the most up-to-date information regarding country specific travel information http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1765.htmlMedical Care Facilities
Baptist Medical Center has capacity for 120 inpatients, is usually full, and occasionally runs as high as 150 percent capacity. At the height of malaria season there may be up to 60-70 kids in the 18-bed pediatric ward. An average of 400-500 outpatients are seen in each clinic, with three clinic days a week. The Center also provides a public health ministry that sponsors rural clinics where villagers receive immunizations, health teaching, prenatal clinics and under five clinics. The hospital ministry was started in 1958 by Dr. Georg Faile, Jr., with support of the International Mission Board, SBC.HIV Care Facilities
Northern Ghana is increasingly afflicted by the growing HIV epidemic, a plague compounded by the remoteness and cultural mores of this region. In response, the Baptist Medical Center Public Health Department has developed and implemented a comprehensive HIV initiative that is fully supported by onsite Internet resources, HIV rapid testing, CD4 count monitoring, and a trained and dedicated staff.
The Public Health Department HIV staff have a keen interest in sharing their skills with outside learners and volunteers. These volunteers will participate in every aspect of this critical service, including voluntary HIV testing and counseling, antiretroviral HIV outpatient therapy, prevention of mother-to-child transmission, and management of opportunistic infections with the assistance of the nearby Baptist Medical Center staff.Public Health Initiatives
Baptist Medical Center is also headquarters for the regional public health department, serving some 34,000 residents in 64 rural villages south of the medical center. Students are welcome to participate in the full range of service. Public health personnel are Ghanaian-trained nurses and community health workers who provide bed nets, prenatal care, well child care, vaccinations, HIV testing and counseling, and treatment and referral of more common diseases.
Outpatient HIV medication treatment is offered to appropriate patients at the public health department, with the support of CD4 and viral load monitoring. The public health program also monitors community health status, particularly collecting data regarding the primary communicable disease threats: tuberculosis, malaria, yaws (spirochete infection caused by Treponema pallidum pertenue), guinea worm, bacterial meningitis, cholera, and measles.Patients
People coming to Baptist Medical Center are often impoverished. Some of the most common medical problems encountered are malaria, malnutrtion, pneumonia, tropical ulcers, typhoid fever, inguinal hernias, pregnancy complications, schistosomiasis, hypertension and anemia.Medical Staff
The medical staff of Baptist Medical Center consists of two to three American staff physicians at any one time. In addition, a number of physicians from America and other nations visit for short periods each year.Language Requirement
English is the official language of Ghana. Medical students and residents will able to work in English, with translation available for the approximately twenty local languages that will be encountered.Student Experience
Several American medical students and residents come to Baptist Medical Center each year. Clinical responsibilities will normally include outpatient clinic, inpatient care, obstetrics, pediatrics, and surgery. Visiting staff are encouraged to bring their own medical instruments. Students will normally take night call and be responsible for their own inpatients. Students are constantly under the guidance of a staff physician.Student Blogs
Visitors are housed in the hospital guesthouse. They can purchase groceries in the nearby town of Tamale and make their own meals at the guesthouse. The kitchen has a microwave. A local cook is also available to prepare hot meals.Facility Support
INMED invites all participants to consider raising extra funds to donate to support the facility. This is not required but allows INMED participants to become involved in every aspect of medical missions.Dress
Clothing for clinical work is similar to that worn in the United States. Men can wear jeans and polo shirts. No short parts or T-shirts. Long skirts and slacks may be worn by women. The hospital provides surgical scrubs.What To Pack
Be sure to pack a carry on bag that has your essentials just in case your luggage becomes lost. Also, it's usually best to bring two suit cases, each half full, so you will have a place to pack souvenirs for the return trip. Recent INMED students recommend: