The Kekeli Women have been asking us about this for years. We’ve thought it would be a good idea. We’ve wanted to make it happen. We just had to figure out how to make it work. This May, in collaboration with nursing students from Point Loma Nazarene University (alma mater to the entire RHC executive team) we will roll out our first comprehensive blood pressure screening program.
As Ghana develops, management of communicable diseases such as HIV and malaria has improved. Attention is now being turned towards non-communicable diseases, such as blood pressure and diabetes. Between 1990-2013, deaths from cardiovascular disease improved or stabilized everywhere around the world, except in sub-Saharan Africa, where the outcomes worsened. In 2011, stroke and coronary artery disease were the 3rd and 5th leading causes of death in Ghana, respectively.1
The nursing students, led by their instructor Dr. Chris Sloan, will be in Ghana for one month. They will collaborate with the RHC Ghana team, led by our wonderful nurse Comfort who worked in the Ghana Health Service for many years before retiring and joining RHC. In addition to teaching the manual skill of taking blood pressure, the Kekeli Women will receive education on diet, exercise, tobacco use and how to assess cardiovascular risk. They will learn how to implement an algorithm, modeled after the WHO program, that will help them decide which people need referral for further assessment.
The nursing students will be offering their medical knowledge regarding cardiovascular disease and the skill of blood pressure assessment. The Kekeli Women will be offering the students a glimpse into their lives and work. They will educate the nursing students on the challenges that accompany living and teaching in a rural community. The nursing students will have the opportunity to observe the community health education the Kekeli Women provide in their communities. Is it too cheesy to say that we are really proud of this rural health collaboration that is occurring? Because we are.
Point Loma has assisted us in purchasing 1/3 of the automated blood pressure cuffs. To help us with the remaining $1000 needed, click here.
I sincerely hope you enjoy this photo taken when Steph, Jess and myself were nursing students on a community health assessment trip to New Orleans in December, 2006 with Point Loma. Please note, I seem to be talking on my phone during the photo. Reason unknown.
1 Ofori-Asenso R, Garcia D. Cardiovascular diseases in Ghana within the context of globalization. Cardiovascular Diagnosis and Therapy. 2016;6(1):67-77. doi:10.3978/j.issn.2223-3652.2015.09.02.