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Medical Care in Ghana

“So, what is the medical care like in Ghana?”

“Do they have medical care, or is it just witch doctors?”

“How much does treatment cost?”


These are a few common questions we are asked about Ghana, and today we will do our best in painting a picture of Ghana’s healthcare.


Ghana is a third world country that is pushing hard to break the cycle of poverty through partnerships with developed countries like America and China, and through efforts of NGO’s and NPO’s from around the world. Traveling around the country you will find some advancements in road construction and other infrastructures like schools and medical clinics. But, as is the case with most 3rd world countries, the efforts generally fall short in benefiting the country as a whole, as the system is skewed in favoring those in power while sending the common folks even deeper into poverty.


There are three types of healthcare in Ghana. First, witch doctors are a real thing. You can usually count on one being present in every village. We don’t recommend one, but they claim to perform surgeries, repair broken bones, and expel evil spirits. Kind of a one stop shop. Secondly, government healthcare. We will discuss this further next. Last, private healthcare. If you have the money you can buy healthcare service that closely mirrors that of developed countries. Now, let’s visit the second, the most common choice.


Ghana’s government loves to boast of its healthcare system that they have modeled after the British. The idea is that the government provides healthcare at a reduced cost to those that pay into the system a yearly cost of approx. $4.00. Once you pay into the service, you are then offered free visits to clinics and hospitals where you will be seen by a government educated nurse, and maybe a doctor, if they are in.


Government Run Clinic, beds provided by GFLP

Now we carefully chose the wording of “government educated.” This is an important detail as it paves the way forward in how the process works. So, let’s take a moment and discuss this “government educated” statement. Ghana also boasts of its free education. We don’t have the time to discuss how free it really is, but because they say it is free, after one graduates from their field of study, they must work for free for 2 years wherever the government places you. This applies to teachers and healthcare workers. So the nurse or the doctor you are seeing is most likely straight out of school and is being forced to work away from his village, and most likely, away from his tribe. And because the education is “free,” what we have seen as quality of doctors and nurses is a bit scary. Now, don’t get us wrong, there are some good ones out there, but in generality, what they call a doctor and what we call a doctor are two different things. So if one has to visit a clinic the government built off in a remote region, the doctor there is probably more of what we would call a CNA. They just have “learned” how to stick in an IV and give antibiotics to everybody for everything. If that doesn’t work, they tell you to travel to a hospital in a city where there you hope to find a doctor that might actually know a thing or two.

4 women, 4 children, 1 bed

So, let’s say you are being treated at a clinic or a hospital, and they see that you need IV meds for malaria. Now it is on you, the patient, to leave the hospital and go and purchase all the drugs, the IV tubing, IV needle, IV fluids, and if you want to have your nurse wearing gloves while she treats you, you’ll need to buy those as well. Then you can return to the clinic where they will then administer the treatment. But don’t worry, while you were away buying all these items, your bed was turned over to the next one in line. When you return, you’ll share that bed while you are being treated.


You can see that there is a system that the government implemented in hopes of providing the medical needs of its people. But you can also see how broken the system is. This is a common problem when you have a system that is started by someone, let’s say another country trying to help, but with no follow through. No long term plans. We, especially as Americans, look at the line “If you build it they will come” from Field of Dreams as a motto on how to help others. But what happens after you build it? That’s the question we at GFLP have been working on coming up with an answer for. We have traveled all over Ghana, seen how people have built clinics and schools, but all that’s left is a vacant building succumbing to the laws of nature. The answer to what’s next isn’t just building something physical, but building something self- sustaining.


Clinic Construction as of 6/20/2022


And THAT is our goal, that is our mission, to not just build a structure, but a future. With the clinic we are building, to the soccer fields we are constructing, it is our goal to then equip the people themselves to manage the next steps. We cannot count on the government to pull the people out of poverty, that’s on us teaching them that they have the power themselves. So, we will equip the clinic, then we will empower the community to manage it. Not only does this take money on our end, but it takes time and effort. But we know that in doing this, the people will be the ones that reap the rewards. If we invest the initial capital costs in running a clinic, in maintaining a soccer field, and in developing the ownership of the projects, then the people who actually need it will be the ones who are thriving.


As always, none of this can be done without you. Thank YOU for being a part of the Goals For Life Project. Don’t forget to take a look at all the happenings on www.goalsforlifeproject.com and follow us on www.facebook.com/groups/895506000796827.


We love you guys!

JD and Steph Wickham

Founders and CEO of the GFLP


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