Critical Care Unit in Ghana
A wonderful update from our Project Co-ordinator, Ann Carpenter. Read her personal account here.
Greetings from Terry and I.
You may think we have been very quiet for quite some time and you would be right.
Unfortunately 5 days after we returned from working at the King’s village February 2017 Terry was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer, quite a shock! Would we ever get back to our beloved King’s Village? We really didn’t know. Visiting last year was certainly out of the question as has been the case for this year too.
But we are thrilled that January 2019 we will be back at the Nutrition Centre for a month, this time with one of our daughters, her husband and 2 sons! We are delighted that they have decided to come out and see not just our work with the Nutrition Centre but also the amazing work the King’s Village undertakes in so many areas. Enough about us! Things have been changing at the Nutrition Centre, even without us being there!
When we were last in Ghana it had become very apparent that we needed to extend the facility to provide a more specific Critical Care Unit as well.
When children first present at the Medical Centre it's usually because of malaria, dysentery or chest infections. But so often there is underlying malnutrition, which whilst you can treat the presenting illness fairly quickly the malnutrition is so often a much longer and more intense process. The children’s ward at the Medical Centre had become so busy that many times there were 3 children on every bed plus their carers, making the ward really heavily overpopulated.
The result of this was that often the children were being released too early across to the Nutrition Centre to free up bed space.
As a result, some of the children were not fully recovered and took ill very rapidly, in some cases terminally.
It was therefore decided that if we had a Critical Care unit attached to the Nutrition Centre it would mean those that also needed nutritional support could be transferred there, continuing their treatment for malaria etc but also start on the nutritional support, on beds with a full-time nurse present administering the needed drugs and infusions.
That was fine, but funding it was a different story! Amazingly and totally unbeknown to me, I was given an award for the work we had been doing out in Ghana, they wanted to fund the build of the critical care unit. The fantastic ladies of the Cherish Foundation paid in full for it to be built and equipped. What an amazing blessing!
The work started in the June of 2017 and even though they encountered problems of excessive rains, flooding, and the main roads going from the south bringing building materials, closed for 4 weeks! By the end of March 2018 the build was finished. From the minute the doors were opened it has been full to capacity. We have provided 6 cots and 3 beds and at times already we have 2 children per bed.
We would like to have been there in June 2018 to celebrate 10 years since the Nutrition Centre opened, but for obvious reasons, we couldn’t go. Terry wouldn’t have been strong enough after all the surgery and chemotherapy he had. We are delighted that in January 2019 we will be able to go out and not just officially open the new unit but celebrate the 10th year anniversary.
We have seen so many hundreds of children saved from the brink of death, from positions of hopelessness through the amazing dedication of the staff at the centre.
The area we work in is very tribal and they have no understanding of malnutrition or how to use what they grow to provide better nutrition for their children. They are uneducated and very much influenced by the tribal traditions that have been in their villages for generations. One of these is that when a child is severely malnourished they believe it’s an evil spirit, thus the Father will call the Witch Doctor in, who takes the child out to the bush to be clubbed to death, thus purging the family of the evil spirit.
This custom is something that we have endeavored, many times with great difficulty, to persuade them to stop. Trying to get them to understand that it’s about their nutritional health not an evil spirit. Word has gone round and so many of the children we see are those that would have been taken to the bush. The mothers run to the centre for help, and many times the Fathers then disown the children, that is until they see them recovered and healthy!
It has been such a privilege to work in this area with some of the most dedicated staff and we pray that we will have the strength to continue, but also that the next generations of our family will see the need and grasp the vision!
So off to Ghana it is on the 2nd January escaping the snow and cold weather we hope. To everyone who supports and prays for us we say a massive thank you!