I recently had the pleasure of attending the Upper West Region Health Performance Review in Wa. This is an annual meeting of the doctors, healthcare administrators, healthcare training school officials and healthcare delivery partners, such as UNICEF and MedPLUS Connect. This meeting provides a forum for discussion on the region's overarching concerns and developments. Each hospital and healthcare training school in the region made a presentation about its recent and ongoing projects as well as its challenges, and we also heard presentations from regional administrators, such as Dr. Chris Fofie, the Regional President of the Ghana Medical Association. Some of the topics discussed were the high rate of labor and delivery taking place outside of healthcare facilities and in the absence of trained healthcare professionals, the region's very low ratio of 1 doctor per 25,000 people (the region has 28 doctors, half of whom are Cubans on 2-year contract with the Ghanaian government), and the high rate of hospital usage as a result of insufficient prevention and poor contintuity of care (last year, the region's hospitals recorded close to 800,000 outpatient visits, while the region's population is only 700,000).
It was overwhelming to listen to the presentations and discussions that took place over the course of this 3-day meeting, both because of the magnitude of the problems and because organizations such as MedPLUS Connect are working on the ground to provide such valuable assistance.
The records that were presented, assuming they were reliable, were surprisingly good. When a presenter talked about an outbreak of an infectious disease, such as yellow fever, he/she knew the index case (the first case of an outbreak), how many people were infected, and how and where the outbreak spread. One presenter discussed the increasing number of hypertension and diabetes cases in the region as a result of longer life expectancies, and another presenter discussed the prevalence of mental health, a topic that has only recently gained attention in Africa.
Attending this meeting also gave me the opportunity to meet with some of our current partners, such as doctors who have received shipments from us, and to form new relationships with doctors or district administrators who may receive future shipments from us. By and large, the people attending this meeting were motivated, capable and hopeful, and they were so happy and thankful that MedPLUS Connect continues to provide them and their colleagues with much needed support.