Ghana Project

Examining the delivery of HIV and reproductive services to young HIV-positive women in Cape Coast, Ghana

March 2015

Led by Llewellyn Cornelius, PhD, LCSW, School of Social Work; Nadia Sam-Agudu, MD, School of Medicine; Eberechukwu Onukwugha, MS, PhD, School of Pharmacy; Joshua Okundaye, MSW, MA, PhD, UMBC Department of Social Work

Students (school affiliation): Anna Alikhani (social work), Ann Marie Gustafson (medicine), Maya Hanna (pharmacy), Natalie Mette-Bory (nursing)

Project goal:

The purpose of this interdisciplinary project was to examine the delivery of antenatal and HIV/AIDS services to pregnant mothers and infants served by the University of Cape Coast (UCC).

Project description:

The team of faculty and students had the opportunity to meet with Ghanaian providers, pharmacists, and government officials to better understand the variations in local delivery of care and the political barriers that affect the provision of care. Students were able to shadow mentors in their respective fields of study at the Cape Coast Teaching Hospital. The faculty team leaders explored and established a viable academic research partnership between the University of Maryland Baltimore and the University of Cape Coast. The team plans to propose a qualitative research study to explore issues around sexually transmitted infections and HIV/AIDS among young African females in Ghana.

Quotes from the students about their experience:

“I learned that there are more similarities than differences in the health care delivery practices in the USA and Ghana. Nurses and midwives struggled with issues of stigma and disclosure among the HIV/AIDS patient population. These same struggles exist in the USA. While there seems to be a stigma associated with HIV/AIDS overall in Ghana, I did not observe stigmatization from the health care providers. I think we have something to learn from the nurses and midwives who work in an empathetic, encouraging, and non-judging way with the HIV/AIDS patient population.” -Natalie, School of Nursing

“I had the opportunity to observe some of the major public health issues in Ghana. Like in the States, Ghanaians suffer from high cholesterol, hypertension, and diabetes. Additionally, public health concerns in Ghana are infectious disease, sepsis due to poor sanitation, and malnutrition. Nationalized health care provides a wonderful platform to administer medication and offer education for patients suffering from HIV, and the majority of patients are covered. The opportunity to speak with both doctors and patients during this week gave me a clear perspective on the successes and challenges of the Ghanaian health care system.” -Ann Marie, School of Medicine

"From this week at UC teaching hospital, I further began to understand the value of interprofessional collaboration, especially in combating communicable diseases such as HIV/AIDS. I worked with HIV nurse educators who aided patients in maintaining treatment compliance in hope of preventing them from defaulting on their ARV regimen. Now I am interested in researching gender and cultural based adherence methods." -Anna, School of Social Work

“Working and learning with the passionate staff at UCC teaching hospital in the antenatal and HIV clinic was invaluable. UCC teaching hospital is continuously working to improve a patient's health outcomes through focusing on optimal treatment, rehabilitation, and a supportive process to reintegrate back into their normal lifestyle. Three words that describe the vibe of this hospital environment is collaboration, community and compassion. Although limited in resources when compared to US standards, this hospital is rich in its commitment to optimal care. I have left with a better understanding of UCC's resources as well as structural and process changes that will be a priority for UCC. Additionally, learning about the National Health Insurance Schema helped me understand the intersection of governmental policy, politics and health care in Ghana.” -Maya, School of Pharmacy

The student team kept a blog of their Ghana experience and can be viewed here.