Tags: cida, global child health program, africa, ghana, nurses, nursing, child health, sickkids, sick kids |
Categories: HealthyKids International, SickKids News, SickKids Stories
Posted by Jarratt Best
6/3/2011 2:24 PM |
Sick kids don’t only live in Canada. So SickKids can’t either. If you’ve already heard about the CIDA-funded Global Child Health Program, you know that The Hospital for Sick Children is blazing trails all over the world. But we’re not just leaving behind breadcrumbs of health knowledge, skills and education, we’re leaving the whole loaf and the recipe for the next batch.
On May 30, the Ghana-SickKids Paediatric Nursing Training Program got underway in Ghana. Over the next three years, up to 140 nurses in the west African country will be trained as experts in the care of children and then return to their home-communities to train their peers. The program will help address Ghana’s critical need for 1,500 paediatric nurses by 2015 and support the Ghanaian-led vision of making a sustainable impact on child health systems and leadership in the country.
Dylan Walters, Project Manager for the program, was on the scene for the launch:
“Forty aspiring paediatric nurses, coming from as far away as the northern region of Ghana, eagerly arrived at the School of Nursing, University of Ghana for the inaugural ceremony. Our partners mobilized the students, the press, committee members and distinguished guests to celebrate the realization of this decade-long Ghanaian vision.
“Following the ceremony and photographs, SickKids nurses Pat Malloy and Karen Breen-Reid led the first class. It was clear from the beginning that the first group is keen to learn, motivated to improve children’s health and proud to be future paediatric nurses.”
But SickKids won’t be doing all the teaching. There is much to be learned from our Ghanaian colleagues and from working with countries that have developing health systems. “If each day resembles this one,” said Pat Malloy of her first day in the classroom, “this experience will change not only the nurses in Ghana, but me as well.”
We are confident the Ghana-SickKids Paediatric Nursing Training Program will change SickKids too.
Motherhood is a magical experience, no matter where in the world you live. But in Ghana, like in many developing countries, motherhood carries significant challenges. Child mortality rates in the west African country are more than 10 times the rate in Canada, and children die mainly from avoidable causes like neonatal infections, early labour, malaria, pneumonia and diarrhea. About half of these deaths occur within health facilities where the children could be saved if they received good quality care.
On May 30, SickKids nurses will begin training nurses in Ghana to become paediatric specialists. Nursing is the backbone of the health system in Ghana, so better training means children will get better care.
SickKids hopes to train up to 140 nurses over the next three years – nurses who will then apply what they have learned to improve the health of children in their own communities. The program is a partnership with the University of Ghana and its School of Nursing, Ghana’s Ministry of Health, Korle Bu Teaching Hospital and the Nurses and Midwives Council of Ghana.
The training program, part of the SickKids Global Child Health Program, is being funded by the Canadian International Development Agency and by donations to SickKids Foundation. SickKids hopes to expand the program into Tanzania and Ethiopia in the coming years. It’s all part of the Hospital’s vision to extend our expertise internationally to improve the lives of children around the world.
Watch this space for more stories about the Global Child Health Program in Ghana as it gets underway.
TIA –This Is Africa. They actually say that in Ethiopia. It’s not just a line from a Hollywood movie. They don’t use it as an apology, but as a statement of fact. TIA means that here things happen at their own pace and you’d better accept it because there is no changing it. TIA means that for better or worse, Africa is a place like no other. For a variety of reasons, things happen here that would never happen elsewhere – both for the bad and for the good. While my currently inadequate understanding of such an expansive, dynamic and complex continent is limited only to a small portion of a single country, it is proving enough for me to begin to understand why such a simple statement could effectively encompass such an overwhelmingly large notion.
Ethiopia is a country of 80 million people living in a space the size of Bolivia with only 120 paediatricians. It is definitely a nation facing staggering challenges. It has a lot of needs, but my experience there showed me it also has a lot to offer. Without a doubt, the success of this country lies in its people. Those I encountered were gracious and determined. The health-care workers I met at Black Lion deal with their situation with humour and resiliency. They reminded me that if I changed my perspective and abandoned my assumptions, I would ultimately get a better understanding of their everyday lives. The green line, for example, should not be mistaken for a lack of standards. The doctors and nurses at Black Lion run their wards with limited resources, but definitely with rules and principles. Without a doubt, they do the best they can with what they’ve got. And in the end, the green line and all it represented – while hard to take in at first – not only allowed me access to incredibly interesting medical procedures performed by a variety of talented professionals, but to contribute in a small way to change the lives of those being treated, which is a generous gift to give a non-medical person.
In the interviews, I asked everyone – Ethiopian and Canadian alike – what they felt they were getting out of this particular collaboration between our countries. There were the anticipated answers about knowledge transfer and capacity building, which I was certainly happy to hear. And there were also moving answers about lasting friendships and affecting change and how things are going to be a decade down the road. Ultimately though, the answers that stayed with me the longest concerned the recognition of a necessity to not only bear witness but to be seen. While incredibly important, No Boundaries and HKI’s other programs are not just about building infrastructure and nurturing sustainability. They’re also about making human connections, and acknowledging each other with respect and dignity. That certainly happened during our week in Addis. And it was my privilege to be part of it.
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