Situated on the coast of West Africa, Ghana is a country full of beautiful beaches, lush vegetation and the world’s largest artificial lake – Lake Volta! Hailed as one of Africa’s great success stories, Ghana is reaping the benefits of a stable democracy in the form of fast paced development. Although a stable country, many Ghanaians live in poverty, so Lattitude volunteers really do make a difference. English is learned at school and widely spoken, but a little effort to learn a few phrases in one of the local languages will go a long way.
Medical Assistant placements are one of our most challenging placements. Based in a rural health centre in Ghana, volunteers aid the ‘Health Officer’ who does almost everything medical-based for their community. The role of the Health Officer is vital within a rural community and is greatly respected; it’s rare to find doctors or nurses at rural health centres, so the demands on a Health Officers time are great and you will need support them and be flexible.
The role does not require any technical or medical experience and you will volunteer under the supervision of the Health Officer (although if you do have experience, that would certainly be welcomed). Patients who require specific treatment are referred to a district hospital. Typical activities of a Volunteer Medical Assistant will include: assisting with some of the running of a rural health centre, looking after a basic pharmacy and providing general administration for patient care, helping to maintain patient records, assisting with activities with babies and under-fives and monthly baby monitoring (weighing) and feeding.
You are also likely to have the chance to involve yourself in other community activities; this will often be encouraged and developing links with the community through your role as a Volunteer Health Worker will help you easily make contacts and friends and help you to experience, explore and understand the culture of a rural area.
Accommodation and Food
Volunteers are allocated a house or nearby accommodation or they will live with a host family. Most accommodation is quite basic with some furniture and a small amount of cooking equipment. Food is supplied but volunteers should bear in mind that they are living within poor communities and will probably need to supplement their diet with extra food which they can purchase and prepare themselves. This may work out at around an extra £0-£10 a week, depending on volunteer needs and the placement.