Wenchi Methodist Hospital – Ghana
This city-based hospital in west-central Ghana cares for people most commonly suffering from malaria, malnutrition, pneumonia, hepatitis, tropical ulcers, typhoid fever, pregnancy complications, schistosomiasis, hypertension and anemia. Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) is available for HIV infected individuals, as well as Prevention of Mother To Child Transmission (PMTCT) prophylactic medication. Wenchi Methodist Hospital is also a referral center for traditional birth attendants and for 18 outpatient health facilities.
Several American and European healthcare profession students come to Wenchi Hospital each year where they are mentored by Ghanaian national staff in medicine and HIV care. Clinical responsibilities will depend upon the student’s interest, and will normally include outpatient clinic, inpatient care, obstetrics, pediatrics, and surgery. Public health and HIV care opportunities are also available. Students are quite welcome and are constantly provided supervision.
Location & Community
The town of Wenchi is located in west-central Ghana, in the Brong Ahafo Region between the cities of Kumasi to the southeast and Tamale to the northeast. The population is about 40,000, with large numbers of both Christians and Muslims. Small-scale agriculture is the mainstay of the economy. The people in Wenchi are known to be “football” or soccer fans, who follow both foreign and local teams. One of the largest annual events is the annual Yam festival. Occurring in August, it marks the end of the first rainy season and harvesting of the yam – the staple crop of Wenchi.
Become familiar with Ghana’s culture, history and economy by reviewing the Wikipedia Ghana Profile. Rich resources for Ghana health information include the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation IHME Ghana Country Profile and the World Health Organization Global Health Observatory Ghana Data.
International travelers should fly into Accra, the capital. Several reputable guesthouses are available for accommodations. An advanced reservation will be necessary. Transportation to Wenchi will be arranged via bus or taxi service. The distance to be covered is 430 km and takes about eight hours.
Please visit the Ghanaian embassy website appropriate for one’s nationality. Americans require a visa for entry into Ghana. The visa must be obtained in advance and cannot be granted at the airport. United States citizens may visit the Ghanaian embassy for visa application information: https://www.ghanaembassy.org. Application for a visitor visa should be made at least two months in advance. Physicians must also obtain a medical license to practice in Ghana, a process that is normally straightforward but takes at least 3 months to complete.
Traveler’s Health & Safety
One should consult with their personal physician before traveling, and refer to the CDC Travel Website for the most up-to-date health information.
Those coming to Wenchi Methodist Hospital are often impoverished. Some of the most common medical problems encountered are malaria, malnutrition, pneumonia, hepatitis B, tropical ulcers, typhoid fever, inguinal hernias, pregnancy complications, schistosomiasis, hypertension and anemia. Of Ghana’s 21 million residents, less than 2 percent are currently living with the HIV/AIDS virus, and 31 percent live below the official poverty line, with little access to any type of medical care.
English is the official language of Ghana. Health personnel will be able to work in English at times with translation available in Asante Twi, the local language spoken by most people.
Medical Care Services
Wenchi Methodist Hospital, started in 1951, is a general district hospital and is a health care ministry of the Methodist Church Ghana. The hospital inpatient capacity is 90 beds with men’s, women’s and children’s wards. It is supported by pharmacy, X-ray, ultrasound, and laboratory with blood transfusion capability. The hospital also offers obstetrics, general surgery, urology, optometric, and chaplain services. Referral of more difficult cases is made to the Regional Hospital in Sunyani, a distance of about 80 km.
Some 200 outpatients are seen daily. Services include a comprehensive and reputable ophthalmology and optometric department. The Wenchi Hospital is a referral center to the 18 other outpatient health facilities. Regional traditional birth attendants refer complicated obstetrical cases to the Wenchi as well.
HIV Care Services
This region of Ghana is increasingly afflicted by the HIV epidemic, a phenomena complicated by complex cultural mores. Wenchi Methodist Hospital in response has developed a mature HIV program that offers Voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT) and protocol-driven Prevention of Mother To Child Transmission (PMTCT) prophylactic medication. Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) is available and supported by on-site CD4 measurement capability.
Experienced HIV care staff are available to share their insight with learners, who can in turn participate in most every aspect of this critical intervention, including public education events, HIV counseling, antiretroviral therapy, and management of opportunistic infections with the assistance of the acute care hospital staff. Throughout, emphasis is that learners appreciate the challenges and care required to meaningfully assist persons living with HIV/AIDS.
Healthcare Profession Staff
Full-time physicians usually include 3-5 Ghanaian doctors, two of whom are residency trained in orthopedics and urology. They are assisted by Ghanaian midwives, clinical officers, community health workers, and visiting international medical consultants.
Several American and European healthcare profession students and resident physicians come to Wenchi Hospital each year where they are mentored by Ghanaian national staff. Clinical responsibilities will depend upon the student’s interest, and will normally include outpatient clinic, inpatient care, obstetrics, pediatrics, and surgery. Public health and HIV care opportunities are also available. Previous INMED Learners who served at this training site include these Graduates.
Student Lodging & Meals
Visiting personnel are accommodated in a hospital guesthouse or residence at a nominal fee. Both have electricity and running water. Visitors usually purchase groceries and make their own meals. A cook can also be hired to prepare hot meals. Any special foods and snacks should be brought along.
Internet access is available, most commonly via mobile phone modem. Phones, modems and usage minutes can be purchased locally.
INMED invites all participants to consider raising extra funds to donate to support this facility. While such efforts are not required, they will provide opportunities for INMED personnel to become involved in this important aspect of international healthcare.
Chiridi Waterfall is a nearby natural phenomenon. Cape Coast, the region just west of the Ghanaian capital city Accra, has the best-known sites of interest. Here are located forts and castles, including Fort Saint Jago and the Castle of Elmina, the first Portuguese settlement in Ghana. Kakum National Park is located nearby and offers ecotourism and abundant wildlife that can be viewed at tree canopy level from the 333m tree top walkway.
Behavior & Dress
Clothing for hospital and public health work is similar to that worn in North America. Modesty is the principle. Men can wear casual trousers and cotton short-sleeved shirts. No shorts or T-shirts. Women can wear long skirts and slacks. Shoulders should be covered. Short pants and jeans should be avoided. Surgical scrubs can be worn for work in the hospital.
What To Pack
Visitors should bring copies of any healthcare profession licenses, diplomas, or certifications. It is recommended to also pack a carry-on bag that has essentials items just in case one’s luggage becomes lost.
Recent INMED students to Ghana recommend: Comfortable shoes, Sanford antibiotic guide, Granola bars, water bottle, small back pack, peanut butter, skirts and blouses, sandals, flashlight and batteries, wrist watch, books for entertainment, writing paper, bug spray, film, a good digital camera, battery powered alarm clock, sunscreen, transistor radio, and hat.