April 27, 2009
In May 2008, the hearts of HBS Section D students were warmed when they learnt about the role of KBFF in Ghana’s major teaching hospital – Korle Bu Teaching Hospital. This unique group of 90 students from Harvard Business School, class of 2009, raised funds from their charity auction, which was planned and organized by volunteers from the class. The donors were fellow classmates who agreed to the various global charity initiatives of the class. Students were passionate about participating in a course that could shape humanity and the KBFF family, in no measurable way, was chosen as one of the charities that could meet this vision for change. KBFF received a $5,000 check from the class.
The donation has gone towards helping the likes of Fati Osman, a two year old toddler who was admitted for a serious infection. Her mother, a petty trader whose monthly income totaled far less than the $68.00 needed to release her daughter from the hospital, could not imagine that there was such a dedicated group that existed to help families just like hers. Such an effort is a reflection of the channels that KBFF has adopted to secure funds for its mission. Fati may not have the chance to meet and personally thank members of HBS Section Dl; but the impact that this class has made on the lives of these innocent newborns and needy children will resonate in their future success and hopefully seed some leadership initiatives in community involvement around healthcare in Ghana.
In his remark, the president of HBS Section D 2009 commented that it was his class’ pleasure to release the $5,000 donation with the knowledge that it was going towards such a worthy cause. To accept this gift, Malaka Grant reinforced that this gift was small by no measure: the potential to save lives and reunite dozens of families was indeed enormous.
December 18, 2008
Datuku (Upper East) - Mrs. Rosemond Azure, the district director in charge of health services in the Talensi-Nabdam district, has expressed concern over how some communities in the Upper East Region do not allow some pregnant women to visit health facilities on the basis of cultural beliefs. This has led to any number of of maternal deaths.
She voiced her worries during a community forum organized by the Datuku Local Civic Coalition Group in Datuku. The group was formed through the initiative of Grass Roots Africa, a non-governmental organization working in the areas of poverty reduction and strengthening of political, economic and social rights of the marginalized groups. The aim of the initiative is to complement government efforts by identifying the pertinent needs of communities and presenting them to government through district assemblies.
Mrs. Azure explained that most of the family heads in the district has the belief that pregnant women should consult soothsayers and perform “rituals” to facilitate delivery in lieu of getting medical prenatal care. She indicated that such negative cultural practices had led to the death of a lot of pregnant women in some parts of the Region, which could have been prevented.
She appealed to traditional authorities, assembly members, and opinion leaders among others, to educate family heads on the importance of allowing their pregnant women to attend health facilities, and also to encourage them to continue to access the free prenatal care. Mrs. Azure said her department would soon embark on organizing durbars and sensitization programmes to educate communities on the need to encourage pregnant women to go for prenatal check-ups. She stated that the GHS was doing everything possible to prevent maternal mortality, hence the introduction of the Free Medical Care programme for pregnant women.
The Capacity Building Officer of Grass Roots Africa, Mr James Awuni, said his organization had empowered a lot of communities in the Talensi-Nabdam District with organization skills, allowing them to discuss pertinent issues affecting them, and consequently forward them to the appropriate quarters for redress. He said Grass Root Africa was organizing capacity building programmes for some communities in the Bongo, Kassena-Nankana and Kassena-Nankana West districts in the Region, all aimed at empowering the people to also actively participate in governance at the community levels.
The Project is being sponsored by the Department for International Development (DFID), in partnership with the Ghana Refuges Welfare Groups (GHARWEG) and Community Partnership for Health and Development (CPHD).
November 10, 2008
ENUGU, Nigeria (AFP) – Neighbors were suspicious of the daytime silence at the maternity clinic that came to life only after nightfall, though never suspected its disquieting secret—it was breeding babies for sale.
But recent police raids have revealed an alleged network of such clinics, dubbed baby “farms” or “factories” in the local press, forcing a new look at the scope of people trafficking in Nigeria.
At the hospital in Enugu, a large city in Nigeria’s southeast, 20 teenage girls were rescued in May in a police swoop on what was believed to be one of the largest infant trafficking rings in the west African country.
The two-storey building on a dusty street in Enugu’s teeming Uwani district now stands deserted, shutters down.
Neighbours had long found something bizarre about the establishment, where there was virtually no activity during the day, they told AFP.
The doctor in charge, who is now on trial, reportedly lured teenagers with unwanted pregnancies by offering to help with abortion.
They would be locked up there until they gave birth, whereupon they would be forced to give up their babies for a token fee of around 20,000 naira (170 dollars, 135 euros).
The babies would then be sold to buyers for anything between 300,000 and 450,000 naira (2,500 and 3,800 dollars) each, according to a state agency fighting human trafficking in Nigeria, the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP).
But luck ran out for the gynaecologist, said to be in his 50s, when a woman to whom he had sold a day-old infant, was caught by Nigeria’s Security and Civil Defence Service (NSCDS) while trying to smuggle the child to Lagos, the security agency said.
Statistics on the prevalence of baby breeding are hard to come by, but anti-trafficking campaigners say it is widespread and run by well-organised criminal syndicates.
“We believe the scope is much wider than we know,” said Ijeoma Okoronkwo, head of NAPTIP.
“It has been happening over time, but we did not know. The first indication we had about this came in December 2006, when an NGO raised the alarm and told us babies were being exchanged for cash and that there were a number of hospitals involved,” she told AFP.
The practice takes varying forms. One is where desperate teenagers with unplanned pregnancies, fearing ostracism by society, get lured to a clinic and are forced to turn over their babies.
The girls are so intimidated many can hardly relate their experience freely.
But one brave victim, an 18-year old, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisal, recounted her week-long ordeal when she was trapped inside one of the clinics days before it was raided by police.
“The moment I stepped in there, I was given an injection, I passed out and next thing I woke up and realised I had been raped,” the girl, who was five months pregnant at the time of her ordeal, told AFP.
When she asked if she could telephone her family to let them know of her whereabouts, the doctor slapped her on the face.
She was shoved into a room where 19 other girls were kept; all had been through a similar experience. She said the doctor raped her again the following day. A week later police swooped on the clinic.
Another category of young women, driven by deep poverty, lease out their wombs and volunteer themselves, as regularly as is biologically possible, to produce babies for sale.
“When we raided the hospital, we found four women who had been staying at the clinic for up to three years, to breed babies,” NSDCS boss for Enugu state commandant Desmond Agu told AFP.
The doctor, whom police named, “had been inviting boys to come and impregnate girls,” said Agu.
This was just one of around a dozen centres—masquerading as maternity clinics, foster homes, orphanages or shelters for homeless pregnant girls—unearthed in recent months where babies were swapped for cash, said the NAPTITP boss.
Last month police swooped on a so-called foster home, not far from the Enugu police headquarters, where seven teenage pregnant girls and five workers were rounded up, residents said.
In 2005, a Lagos-based orphanage suspected of ties to child trafficking rings, was shut down. There, charred baby-bones were discovered on the rubbish tip, leading to suspicion the orphanage was involved in the peddling of human body parts, possibly for use in rituals or for organ harvesting.
In other cases observers say babies are purchased to be raised for child labour and sexual abuse or prostitution.
Trafficking in humans has become a lucrative trade.
Globally, it is estimated that billions of dollars exchange hands annually for payment of humans, according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and several UN agencies.
Witchcraft rituals also fuel baby trafficking, but experts say it is other motives that predominate, at least in this region of Nigeria.
Communities frown on children born out of wedlock and childlessness in marriage remains a curse for the woman.
“In the Igbo society, the price to remain childless is too high,” said a clinical psychologist Peter Egbigbo.
“Childless people want to pay any amount for a child and doctors become rich overnight,” he said, adding that those who are ready to adopt a baby would rather hide the fact that it is not their biological child.
Exchanging babies for cash is widespread in the region and in many cases locals do not see anything wrong in so doing.
“Many people don’t even know what they are doing is criminal. They just think it’s adoption—you walk into a clinic, pay a fee and you have a baby,” said Okoronkwo.
Buying or selling of babies is illegal in Nigeria and can carry a 14-year jail term.
It is estimated that globally hundreds of thousands of people are trafficked annually. UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund, estimates that at least 10 children are sold daily across Nigeria, where human trafficking is ranked the third most common crime after economic fraud and drug trafficking, according to UNESCO.
“There is so much profit in this business. There is so much to be made in trafficking and that is why it is thriving.”
by Susan Njanji
November 07, 2008
President Agyekum Kufuor has announced government’s new strategy that would ensure equitable distribution of human resources in the health sector to deprived areas.
This new strategy will include differentiated salaries and allowances for doctors and other health professionals.
As the guest speaker at the 50th annual general conference of the Ghana Medical Association (GMA), themed GMA @50 (Ghana’s health), the President said the new strategy is being adopted as appeals to the conscience of most medical personnel to accept posting to the rural areas has not been fruitful.
With a disparity in the salaries of doctors and other medical personnel who accept posting to the rural areas, it is hoped that health professionals will be motivated to move critical personnel to the rural and deprived areas of the country.
President Kufuor appealed to the association to try and inculcate in all its members to remember that “their calling is a missionary one for humanity and should be committed to being in the vanguard of the development of the nation wherever duty calls”.
He stated that despite the laudable initiatives and investments by government to make health delivery available to all, human resource shortage continues to plague the health sector.
Doctor- patient ratio stands at one doctor to 13,000 patients nationally, however in some parts of the country the situation is different. In the upper East Region one doctor is to 29,000 patients while in the Upper West, the ratio is one is to 44,000 with that of the Northern Region being one doctor to 90,000.
He also used the opportunity to explain the origin of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) which is being claimed by some political parties as their initiative and said that the Cash and Carry system and the free medical care system of the immediate post independence era had both failed to ensure that the citizenry gets access to quality health care.
The viable alternative, he revealed, was the National health Insurance Scheme which had been envisaged as far back as the early 1970s.
“So the current heated claims in the political arena about the origins of the system tend to be unnecessary and sometimes even puerile. The important thing is that, this government has launched the scheme very boldly.”
He was happy that over 50 percent of the national population is covered by the scheme within the short period of three years of its inception. “The objective must always be to ensure that nobody is denied service on basis of inequality and poverty.”
The Chief Justice, Justice Georgina Theodora Wood, who was the guest of honour of the function, congratulated the GMA for contributing to Ghana’s health in the past 50 years.
She however urged members of the GMA not to resort to strike actions but rather engage government in the spirit of mutual respect and trust on the issue of salaries and better conditions of service stating that the judiciary does not resort to strike, “If we have managed to walk the road, I believe that you can”.
The Minister of Health, Major (Rtd) Courage Quashiega, who observed that there was a shortfall in health education in the country, proposed that the GMA should organise its members to write small booklets on the human vital organs in simple language to educate the public.
He intimated the ministries readiness to support in the publication of such booklets and said “let us make efforts to prevent diseases and acquire wisdom for the advancement of our country.”
Dr. E. Adom Winful, president of GMA complained that even though human resource is pivotal in administration of efficient health services they are stressed out and poorly paid.
He said negotiation for a review of the salaries of doctors in the country for some years has yielded no fruit even though the GMA has complied fully with all the demands of its employers.
“For how long can the association contain the frustration?”
Source: Daily Guide
March 04, 2008
By David Alan Painstil & Magdalene Sey
Baobab Youth Training Center, a German non-governmental organization (NGO), based in Kissi in the Central Region, has out-doored Artemisia, an anti-malaria herbal plant, at Kissi to treat malaria in the region.
Last year, the center, which trains orphans and youth in and around Kissi in craft making, launched the Moringa plant, which is also used for the treatment of malaria.
Speaking at the function, the Managing Director of the Center, Madam Edith De-Vos, a German, noted that the plant was introduced in Ghana by Anamed International, a herbal plant organization in Germany.
She said the Artemisia plant is used for the manufacture of Artesunate. The medicine clears one’s blood system of malaria parasites.
She added that about 50 participants across the country were undergoing a six-day training course, with regard to the preparation of the herb for the treatment of malaria.
De-Vos disclosed that the training centre was specializing in afforestation, fight against bushfire, organic farming and natural medicines, to protect the natural habitat for the preservation of medicinal plants.
The District Chief Executive (DCE) of Komenda-Edina-Eguafo-Abrem (KEEA) District, Mr. Frank Asmah, appealed to Ghanaians to adopt a positive attitude towards waste disposal, and environmental cleanliness, in order to prevent the outbreak of malaria.
He lamented that in spite of government efforts at ensuring that lagoons in the region were dredged, to rid them of filth, people still disposed off refuse in them, posing environmental hazards to nearby residents.
Asmah appealed to fishermen to utilize public toilets, at the various beaches, and desist from easing at the beaches.
The Central Regional Coordinator for Malaria Control, Mr. Moses B. Asante, disclosed that malaria was one of the top 10 diseases recorded in the region last year.
He said malaria cases recorded last year, dropped from 384,143 to 371,263 representing a 3.4% decline.
Mr. Asante said the region recorded 278 deaths in 2006, while 261 deaths were recorded last year.
He however hinted that an educational programme, dubbed “home-based care,” was being organized in some communities in the region, to sensitize them on the prevention of malaria.
Asante commended the Baobab Foundation for its efforts at preventing malaria in the KEEA district, in particular, and the Central Region as a whole, and pledged that his outfit would assist them with the needed logistics, to rid the region of malaria and other diseases.
January 13, 2008
Although touched by the plight of patients in the children’s ward at Korle Bu hospital, I must confess that I had only read about the conditions and haven’t visited the hospital myself since January, 1978, when I was being smacked on the bum a few minutes after birth. As a board member of the KBFF team, I of course have an obligation to familiarize myself with the institution which I had set out to assist.
I don’t know if the reality which I was met with was worse or better than I expected. All I know is that it was pretty bad. In the West, and in America in particular, we have a certain expectation when it comes to healthcare. Across the board, most procedures are pretty standard. You expect to be checked-in in a somewhat timely matter, with a climate controlled environment (heat in the winter, A/C in the summer); you’re them ushered into a room where you’re given a hospital gown to slip into, a bed to lie on, and if you’re lucky, your own TV in the room, depending on the procedure. A slew of hospital staff traipse in one after another to gather your insurance information, diagnose you, ask you if you need some water (at least) and then inform you that a doctor will be in to see you shortly. Thirty minutes to an hour later, one will certainly appear. These are the things we take for granted.
Such luxuries are not afforded to the children at Korle Bu. The admissions area is a dingy green, decorated with rainbow murals and laughing children that have lost their luster, twenty years after being painted on. It’s hot and stuffy in the December Harmattan air, and the only circulation I can find is in the form of a ceiling fan further into the waiting area. There are no backed cushiony seats for the admitting patients. Only long wooden benches, filled with mothers, grandmothers, and a few fathers holding or “backing” their sickly young ones, trying to make them as comfortable as possible. We began our tour of the hospital (we being my husband and mother-in-law) here, and then moved on to the ER, separated from the admissions area only by a wooden screen and hinged door.
The first child we saw was a little girl, maybe 9 years old, with cerebral malaria. Laying on a broad stretcher, she was barely conscious. The staff struggled for two or more minutes to push her through the obviously too narrow do or to the emergency room. Dr. Adei noted with some surprise that they had seen a swell in the number of malaria cases this season, which was odd, as malaria is generally rampant in rainy season. She commented with some frustration that many parents waited far too long to bring the kids in for treatment of malaria, and cited many cases where children would literally die in nurses arms while blood was being brought into the room. The general feeling is that it’s almost as if these parents feel like they can just have another kid if this one happens to die…disposable kids. These children are known as B.I.D’s, or Brought In Dead. On the drive into the hospital, I pointed out a technological relic from our colonial past to my mother-in-law: A huge, seeping open gutter; the final destination for the maze of smaller gutters in that locale. These gutters are a breeding ground for all sorts of preventable diseases, including malaria. They will never be seen in the plush residential areas of East Legon or Cantonments, but for the families living in places like Madina, Pig Farm and Asylum Down, they are an unnecessary and unfortunate reality that must be coped with.
Across the hall was a tiled and empty room, which served as another portion of the ER. It was empty because there was no one to staff, as the majority of the hospital team had fled the abhorrent conditions to work for better pay anywhere but Ghana, or Africa for that matter.
We were given a bit of reprieve from the heat when our trek took us past the habitually broken elevators to the second floor where the hospital’s consultants now reside. It was fully air-conditioned and beautiful. It was just too bad that none of the children benefit from its efficiency. The staff often comes here to escape the heat and discomfort of the rest of the building. We used the time in the spacious library, well stocked with outdated medical journals, to discuss the good and bad aspects of the NHIS and the need for an overhaul of Ghana’s overall medical infrastructure. 15 minutes later we were assaulted by the heat when we exited the double doors leading out of the consultants’ wing and on to the children’s wards. More faded murals greeted you at the entry, but the floors had recently been redone, which improved the aesthetics of the area. The walls of the ward had been repainted a pleasant buttery yellow as well, replacing the gangrene-ish color that dominated the rest of the medical facility.
Today, the ward was sparsely populated, although each bed was occupied. As a rule, there can be 2 or 3 children sharing a bed or crib. The “cribs” looked more like cages. After introducing us to the nurses on duty, a very enthusiastic head nurse tried to ascertain how much money we had brought to provide relief for the children. She knew each of them by name, their parents’ names and occupation, and sucked her teeth with pity for those who did not have a pesewa to their name.
I mumbled, a bit ashamed, that we had $300 to disperse.
We walked around and met most of the children, some so ill that all the nurses could do was to make them as comfortable as possible before the inevitable came. I watched as one child screamed in fear as a nurse tried to insert an IV into his arm. His mother had removed his shirt just moments before to facilitate the procedure. A thought struck me.
“Eunice, how come none of these kids are wearing hospital gowns?”
“Well, like that little girl who just came in is still wearing the yellow dress she had on at admission, and that little boy is wearing short and regular street clothes. Is this not something they should have?”
“Well,” she replied, “hospital gowns are so far down the list of priorities that it’s actually not something we’ve even given consideration to.”
I felt like a fool. Here the staff was without mosquito nets, climate control and modern ward room equipment, and I was yammering about hospital gowns. All the same, I silently vowed to find a sewing club who would make some pieces for the children.
The final leg of the tour took us to the NICU, where the pre-term babies are housed and who maintain the most astronomical bills…anywhere from $100 - $300, depending on their length of stay. It was pretty modern by all accounts, with incubators, heating lamps and air-conditioning. We were all smiles and cordiality until we reached a room in the back of the NICU, where healthy babies were being nursed by their mothers on the floor. I estimate the room was perhaps 13 by 7 feet, and there were 16 or more ladies nursing their infants. This was hard for me to watch, and seemed very invasive. I ducked my head in, gave a quick wave and moved on back to the “reception” area. The chief nurse there again told us each patient’s name, and how much they owed.
“This lady, Hawa*, gave birth to twins 3 months ago,” she said. “Their balance is 2.5 million cedis, and they have been making gradual payments. They are very poor, so they haven’t even put a dent in the total amount. The twins are still here.”
“How much is that in dollars?” my mother in law asked.
“About $250,” I said.
“Anyway, since it seems so impossible to get the money, her husband has been trying to convince her give the twins up for adoption to S.O.S., but has refused. She says God will make a way.”
I fought back my tears. What a good mother! These are the people I connect with the most…those who stare down adversity and the seemingly impossible, and refuse to surrender. This was the very reason I created this fund.
If this is your first time hearing about KBFF, you may ask “Why can’t the hospital just bill the patient and follow up to collect later? Doesn’t it cost more to house them once they’re treated and discharged?” The answer is simple: The entire system, nationwide is a broken one, and can’t accommodate such an efficient idea. Somehow, the hospital has to ensure that these parents will pay their debts for treatment; their children end up becoming collateral.
Please join us in our mission to send these kids home. Make a donation and tell a friend about us. Honestly, no amount is too small.
Little drops of water, little grains of sand, make a mighty ocean and a pleasant land.
*Patient’s true name withheld for privacy
January 13, 2008
January 23, 2007 - Black Brittian Daily News
A group of friends responded to a story about hardship in Ghana by forming an international charity to provide financial assistance. Nana Sekyiamah tells Black Britain why more individuals should consider being trustees of charities.
Today sees the launch of a new campaign called Get on Board , which is aimed at recruiting more individuals to become trustees of charitable organisations. There are around 190,000 UK charities worth in the region of £36 billion and currently 93 per cent of voluntary organisations have between one and five trustee vacancies. But only 4.7 per cent of charity trustees are from ethnic minority backgrounds.
“If everyone just thinks ‘what can I do to make a difference’ it will have a huge impact in the long run.” - Nana Sekyiamah, Trustee of the Korle-Bu Family Fund
As 29 year old Nana Sekyiamah discovered, there are different routes to becoming a trustee of a charity. In her case she became a trustee by forming a charitable organisation. It all started when a friend read a story being circulated about children being detained at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, in Accra, Ghana because the parents could not afford to pay the medical bills. She told Black Britain:
“We just could not believe that this was happening. We started to investigate deeper and found that it is actually a regular occurrence.” Sekyiamah learnt that if the parents cannot pay and do not have a sponsor to pay the bills then the child is detained at the hospital until the debt is cleared. A few friends who read the story decided to do something about apart from just sympathising and so joined together to form a charity, with Sekyiamah being appointed as one of the trustees:
“We wanted to meet the practical needs of the parents and the child,” she said. Although down the line, the charity will get more involved in lobbying, right now they have decided to focus purely on fund-raising so the charity can act as sponsors to step in when parents are unable to pay their child’s hospital bills:
“Part of our work in the future will be to do a lot more in terms of lobbying to try to get the hospital to change this rule, but right now we just want to raise funds,” Sekyiamah said.
Korle-Bu Family Fund (KBFF) is already an international charity with a branch in the US where co-founder Malaka Gyeke is based; there is also a branch in Ghana itself. With trustees based at various locations: “It really is an international charity with an international effort,” Sekyiamah told Black Britain.
Sekyiamah has come up with creative ways of fund-raising, from organising singles parties to networking. Other supporters have also organised events and donated some of their profits to KBFF. She explained her key role within the organisation as a trustee:
“Gaining experience in the voluntary setcor is a good place to start It feels really rewarding to be able to do something where I can see how I am contributing to my country.”- Nana Sekyiamah, Trustee of the Korle-Bu Family Fund
“Being the face of the charity, representing the charity, speaking about what the charity does, raising money and keeping up with the legal requirements.”
Having worked in the voluntary sector for several years, Sekyiamah already gained a great deal of experience of how charities operate. She insists that as a practical person she prefers to try to find concrete ways of addressing issues rather than just talking about them. She told Black Britain:
“If everyone just thinks ‘what can I do to make a difference’ it will have a huge impact in the long run.” Sekyiamah believes that the types of people who make good trustees are: “People who are interested in what is going on in the community.”
Those without the background in voluntary work that Sekyiamah has gained would be well advised to start off by volunteering with an organisation and getting a taste of working for a charity by learning the ropes.
Having been brought up in Ghana Sekyiamah gained a great deal of personal fulfilment in being able to run a charity that helps people from her home country: “It feels really rewarding to be able to do something where I can see how I am contributing to my country,” She said.
In the year the charity has been operating the biggest challenge Sekyiamah has faced has been one of time, as she already has a full-time job as a personal development trainer and life coach and in addition sits on the management board of the London and South East Regions Global Dimensions, which promotes global education.
But she is adamant that it is a worthwhile pursuit and would definitely encourage others, particularly from the African Diaspora, to follow her example. People that have concerns about issues that impact on the lives of the global African community should do something about it: “That is really why you get involved,” she told Black Britain.
Acting as a trustee of a charity usually involves decision-making. Many mainstream charities are also trying to be more reflective of the multicultural society that they serve and would welcome trustees from the black communities. Sekyiamah advises individuals seeking to go down this route to seek out charities that have the same aims and objectives that they hold to find a suitable organisation to work for.
Although trustee work is voluntary and therefore unpaid work, aside from certain expenses, it does have added benefits, as Sekyiamah explained: “It’s a really good way of building up your skills and experience and gives you essential skills that can help you move forward in your career. I can really see how working in the voluntary sector has helped me.”