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Christian involvement with medical skills training proves valuable to Ghana

By November 20, 2008

Ghana (MNN) — A phenomenon known as "brain drain" is sweeping the medical field in Ghana, destroying its already limited healthcare.

Doctors and nurses trained in Ghana are leaving the country almost immediately after training to find higher paying jobs internationally, therefore ridding Ghana of its best medical personnel and decreasing the quality of healthcare in the country.

Ghana's medical system, as well as several others in Western Africa, is in extreme need of reliable doctors and training, especially for victims of trauma (one of the leading causes of death in the country).

Currently, there is one doctor to every 11,000 inhabitants in Ghana, compared with one doctor to every 2,000 residents in the U.S. Although doctors and nurses are being trained in Ghana, many simply cannot afford to work there, and over 50 percent leave the country in search of higher pay.

A few organizations have collaborated to change this downturn. International Aid, in conjunction with Johnson and Johnson and the West African College of Surgeons, built the Karle bu Hospital in Ghana in 2005 and has been training medical students there since.

"[We] have gotten together in Ghana with the purpose of better training the doctors in West Africa to better take care of the health care needs in that area," says International Aid's Myron Aldrink. By training doctors with updated technology and keeping them in Ghana as opposed to the U.K. or the U.S., International Aid hopes to reverse the brain drain and keep doctors in the country.

"We train them in the local institutes, support the local institutes, so that they keep their loyalty to Ghana and to West Africa and [remain here]" says Aldrink. This has been made easier and easier as technology improves. Aldrink notes that they are now able to use video conferencing from other parts of the world (in one case Toronto) to communicate to doctors in Ghana so they can see and hear how other professionals are performing surgeries. In turn, these newly-trained doctors can do the same sort of technology to teach these methods to doctors all throughout Western Africa.

As a Christian organization, International Aid has been able to use their position in the medical field to be a light for Christ. Aldrink says that as they provide medical attention, they are in an optimal position to provide spiritual answers for seekers as well. Pray that International Aid workers would reflect Christ in their actions and compassion so that as patients inevitably ask "Why?" the staff will be ready with a response.

To learn more about International Aid or to help them in their endeavors, click here .

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