Diaries From the Field Blog

Greetings from Ghana

July 14, 2016
Duke SRT Team Canopy Walk at Kakum National Park
Duke SRT Ghana team braving the canopy walk at Kakum National Park

By Derek Shu

Akwaaba! Greetings from Ghana! After enduring a case of lost baggage, our SRT team has finally all arrived!

This summer, our team of four students in partnership with the Duke School of Nursing and Ghana Health Services, is conducting research and performing documentary work on perceptions and barriers to maternal healthcare among community members, mothers, healthcare providers, and healthcare leadership. We have been conducting a mixture of focus group discussions and interviews to put together a comprehensive story on maternal/newborn healthcare utilization to improve future health services.

This project was not what we originally intended to do. Initially our team was supposed to evaluate a distance-based learning program with nurse anesthesiologists, but we were all taught good lessons in adaptability and patience as our new project unfolded.

After a short domestic flight from Accra to Tamale and an emotional roller coaster of waiting, we were able to return to Accra to meet with Dr. Srofenyoh for the first time. Perhaps the most exhilarating moment of our time in Ghana so far up to that point, he shared his vision with us about understanding the impact of stillbirths and how it impacts the women’s confidence in accessing healthcare services in the future. Dr. Srofenyoh immediately got the ball rolling and scheduled us to meet with the regional and district health directors to gain leadership approval and then walked us through developing focus group and survey questions.

While this first blog post is being published six weeks into our project, this trip and experience has been anything but uneventful. Before stepping foot onto the plane to leave the United States, we already had so many uncertainties and questions about our travels. Thankfully, we have learned an immense amount of resiliency and appreciation from our time so far in Ghana. There were many days in our first weeks where we had nothing (yes, NOTHING) scheduled, but we took those days in stride and were able to spend hours reflecting and exploring the cities. We have had the privilege of listening to the stories of so many Ghanaian people both of success and of failure. We have been blessed to see so much of Ghana’s beauty, but we have also seen many of the challenges that this developing country faces. Unintentionally, we have strung together a bank of truly immersive experiences, some of which we are "Ghana" share with you all in our future posts!