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Local group helps village grow stronger

Several MUSC faculty members, residents, nurses, students and others soon will be traveling to a remote village in West Africa to work with local Ghanaian nurses and physicians.

This remote village is home to 2,500 people, 1,400 of whom are children. The group will be addressing the primary health goals of the village, including malaria testing and surgeries for goiter, hydrocele and vision problems. The group is seeking donations to aid in this Health Outreach trip to Okurase in Ghana.

Village children
                                          in GhanaThe village children are a big part of the appeal for MUSC volunteers who go to Okurase, Ghana.

Cynthia Cupit Swenson, Ph.D., is a professor in MUSC's Family Services Research Center, a part of MUSC's Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, and is involved with community-based services and research. People associated with Project Okurase in Ghana have been at work for many months organizing the Health Outreach on the ground, she said.

Including the 15 people going from America, there will be 75 volunteers in all. The outreach will be led by local Ghanaian physicians and nurses. The Charleston group is set to arrive to begin the outreach on July 12.

"We are very excited about this phenomenal event and our partnership with Ghana. We hope that this is the start of a more formal arrangement for future rotations and internships for MUSC students and residents."

Swenson said despite the strengths and work ethic of the people, this village has no clean water, lack of proper sanitation, limited medical care or educational opportunities, malnutrition and food security issues (see photo exhibit on second floor of the Colbert Education Center & Library).

Sarah Logan, a student going on the trip, established a project to accept donations at MUSC. Donation boxes are located in the lobbies of the Basic Science Building, the library, the University Hospital and the Children's Hospital, the Wellness Center, the Cannon Street building, Ashley River Towers, McClennan Banks 1st floor and Harborview Towers.

Organizers are asking for donations of any of the following non-expired supplies: scrubs, exam/patient gowns, surgical tools, otoscopes, ophthalmoscopes, stethoscopes, skin calipers, scales, gloves, glucometers, glucose strips, school supplies, and batteries.

Tax-deductible monetary donations also are needed to buy medications and malaria testing kits in Ghana. Contact Dr. Swenson, MUSC Department of Psychiatry, 4th floor, McClennan Banks, 843-876-1802; or mail to: PROJECT OKURASE, 
2449 Beacon Street, 
North Charleston, S.C. 29405.

What Will Be Happening?

  • Screening, treatment and surgeries (1,350 people were seen in 2011)
  • Children's camp, organized locally by Charleston students, that includes English, science and other educational activities, as well as soccer and songs
  • Piloting telemedicine for health consults
  • Piloting the use of technology for an electronic classroom where village students can join classrooms at a local high school in Charleston
  • Collecting information for the website and public relations
  • Under the direction of a medical coordinator from MUSC, Eve Spratt, M.D., collecting information for the background of grant applications (health, nutrition, sanitation, water)
  • Helping with building of the educational center, the Nkabom Centre
  • Health education to be shared with people waiting to be seen
  • Partnering with Water Missions International to conduct a site assessment to determine water needs
  • The opening of a women's new small business in gari production (a roasted cassava root)


Friday, July 6, 2012

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