Bouncing back from a disappointing day at the Ministry of Finance, I spent a much more productive Friday at the Ministry of Health. I came well prepared for the meeting, with snacks, a full water bottle, and a good book, knowing that I would likely have to wait…and wait I did. After two trips to the Ministry offices and several phone calls with the Chief Director of the MOH, our main contact, schedules were sorted out and we were able to have a FANTASTIC meeting!
We reviewed the summary docs and full packing lists for the container of supplies that will be arriving in Ghana in early March, and discussed the items that would need to be shared among neighboring hospitals and health centers--there is a huge need for things like OR scissors, but a single hospital doesn’t need the hundreds that we shipped! I presented plans for our next few shipments, and the subsequent travel/meetings to make them a reality—everything looks good to go!
The Chief Director was enthusiastic about incorporating a "value-added" charge that will give us the funding to purchase items (or refurbish donated items) that will have a significant impact on the hospital’s ability to provide care. The #1 priority is securing/shipping refurbished portable x-ray machines, hopefully accompanied with lead vests and other items needed for safe use. One of our Board members has networked with a Ghanaian organization that trains physicians to use medical equipment—I see a great opportunity for partnership!
Despite all the successes of the meeting, the exemption process remains confusing and elusive…there is definitely a disconnect between decisions of top MOH officials and the realities of action (and delays/corruption) on the ground. I am beginning to view an exemption as a mythical creature that everyone has heard stories about but no one has actually seen with their own eyes ☺. We discussed the option of moving to door-to-port shipping (Cleveland, OH to Tema, Ghana) with Ghana Supply (the government clearing agent) taking care of clearing and the MOH, themselves, providing the in-country trucking. On one hand, I am hesitant about the loss of accountability that comes with handing over part of the transport process. On the other hand, it may be time for us to move toward working within the Ghanaian system…definitely lots of things for the Board of Directors to discuss this week!
Time for some jollof rice ☺