Afrikan Post: Bishop Health Centers, Konongo-Mampong Diocese of Ghana

Afrikan Post: Bishop Health Centers, Konongo-Mampong Diocese of Ghana
Velma Anne Ruth - Sun Feb 22, 2015 @ 09:34AM
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The following newsletter is as featured in Afrikan Post, February 2015 issue, page 14-15, with much appreciation to the coordination of Dr. Aaron Adade. Download the magazine here:

Bishop Health Centers: Konongo-Mampong Diocese of Ghana

The Konongo-Mampong Diocese of Ghana, near the city of Kumasi, led by Most Reverend Bishop Joseph Osei Bonsu, serves a population of over 1 million Ghanians. Konongo-Mampong was created in 1995 out of two Dioceses namely, Kumasi and Sunyani Dioceses, and consists of 10 Administrative Districts in Ghana. It lies in the middle portion of the country with its boundaries stretching across the greater part of the Ashanti Region.

Through Vatican support, Konongo-Mampong has established extension dioceses for Ghanian-Americans, including in New York, Washington DC, Maryland, Virginia, and Iowa. The Ghanian-American diaspora is very active in supporting their home communities, particularly in the areas of health and economic growth. In the Archdiocese of Washington in the DC metro area, Reverend Father Francis Aning Amoah is Parochial Vicar at St. John the Evangelist and Chaplain to the Ghanaian Community, while working closely also with Bishop Bonsu.

Foreign donor support is currently the backbone of Diocesan income, while Bishop Bonsu and diaspora work together on local economic opportunities such as agricultural advancement with local land owners and leading village Chiefs.

Bishop Health Centers is a central medical service to the broader Ghanian community, providing medical care through 9 clinics in the diocese. Each medical clinic is operated through the dedicated support of diocese health professionals, nurses, visiting doctors, and diocese administrators.

  • Pope John Paul II Medical Center, JamasiGhana - Seniagya.jpg
  • St Joseph’s Clinic, Abira
  • St. Ann’s Maternity Clinic, Donyina
  • Sacred Heart Health Center, Bepoase
  • Madonna Clinic, Besease
  • St. Anthony’s Clinic, Anyinasu
  • St. Vincent Clinic, Brobonso
  • St. Luke’s Clinic, Seniagya
  • Oku Catholic Clinic, Oku

The facilities are also undergoing long-term development to advance treatment capacities through increased access to equipment, medicines, doctors, and water supply. Demand for healthcare is very high in the community, but the clinics require substantial resources in order to properly care for the general population.

Throughout Ghana, due to lack of health resources, local communities, especially in the rural areas lack significant access to health resources. Currently there are only 0.085 physicians available per 1000 population and 0.9 hospital beds to 1000 population. This is approximately 3.1% of health accessibility in the United States. Infant mortality is extremely high at 39.7 deaths per 1000 births, and maternal mortality is also high at 350 deaths per 100,000 live births. Further, the mortality rate for children under five mortality is 68.5 out of 1,000 live births.

Ghanian communities are facing over 50% unemployment. Most Ghanians depend on government funded medical services, free care through charitable and Catholic medical clinics, and a minority are able to pay for healthcare independently. As a result, medical facilities lack fundamental infrastructure, many do not have professional physicians or specialists on staff, standard medical equipment is vacant, medicines are needed, and crucial infrastructure such as water, electricity, sanitation, and air control are in need of vast improvements.

Due to lack of access to medical care, and lack of clean water resources, multiple diseases are life threatening in Ghana. There is a very high risk of infectious disease, including food or water borne, vector-borne, and water contact diseases (i.e., diarrhea, hepatitis A, typhoid fever, malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever, schistosomiasis).

For example, in Ghana the World Health Organization (WHO) reports an estimated 6.6 million cases of malaria, and 172,661 deaths attributed to malaria. In Africa, an estimated 60% of malaria cases are among children under 5 years of age. Worldwide, 77.1% of deaths attributed to malaria are among children. For Ghana, an estimated 4.14 million children have malaria, and 13,119 children die of malaria in a single year.

Bishop Bonsu has been taking a leading role in ailing the Ghanian population through the Konongo-Mampong medical facilities, which are independently managed and operated by the diocese. In 2013 the Pope John Paul II Medical Center in Jamasi was built with philanthropic support of Manos Unidas in Italy. The clinics receive ongoing assistance from the local medical school in Kumasi, Kwame and Nkrumah of Science and Technology. There are also visiting physicians from prominent medical institutions in Germany.

Through the advocacy of leading Ghanian-American Dr. Aaron Adade in the Washington DC area, recently the Bishop Health Centers development project has been adopted by ABS Community Research, a US nonprofit 501c3 based between Washington DC and Florida, with fundraising and advocacy also through New York City area.

Per the request of Bishop Bonsu, the health advancement initiative focuses first on Pope John Paul II Medical Center in Jamasi and St. Joseph’s Clinic in Abira. The Pope John Paul II Medical Centre is independently managed, 100% owned by the Konongo-Mampong Diocese, and lead by Dr. Yao Bio. The Administrator is Mr. Thomas Mensah Ag., and Matron is Rev. Sr. Patricia K. Titigah, FST. St. Joseph’s Clinic in Abira, operated by Nurses in Charge Sister Amala Vezhaparambil and Ms. Theresa Agyemang, with Sister Annie Joseph, CHF.

In the words of Most Rev. Bishop Bonsu:

"The vision of the Konongo-Mampong Diocese is a new society where the poor have discovered that within themselves and their environment there are great potentials to make sustainable progress in their living conditions towards self-reliance and holistic development in the light of the Gospel and the Church’s Social Teaching.

"While working closely with community health professionals and listening to complaints of our diocese and surrounding village communities, I have witnessed that a large number of rural residents lacked prenatal care, postnatal care, and other comprehensive health services. I believe that quality health services coupled with social-welfare services are essential to reduce infant and maternal mortality significantly, and prevent HIV/AIDS infections. I believe that women and mothers are fundamental to the optimal health of the whole family and community.

"Therefore, for the past decade I have sought after donations to build new clinics, renovate existing buildings, and furnish clinics with beds and hospital equipment. This is the first step in my five-year plan to furnish and build comprehensive health centres that deliver essential healthcare with surgical facilities, social-welfare and education services to the most vulnerable families in rural areas.

"For example, our diocese’s newly completed hospital, Pope John Paul II Medical Centre in Jamasi, opened to the Konongo-Mampong community in 2012 with a daily case load of approximately 100 patients. Unfortunately, a large number of medical cases have to be referred to the Komfo Anokye Regional Hospital in the regional capital city of Kumasi that is 40 kilometers away. Even minor surgeries for orthopedic accidents cannot be performed at the Pope John Paul II Medical Centre. The dearth of well-trained healthcare professionals will be addressed using our office and influence to form partnerships and relationships with local and international universities for doctors to volunteer, and medical students’ performing practical training internships for college credits.

"The diverse medical and social-welfare needs of rural communities steered me towards adopting a comprehensive healthcare model based on a humane value that treating women and families for health ailments alone is insufficient to support communities encumbered by layers of poverty. Examining issues with the family that may include co-occurring disorders are essential for optimal health solutions. For example, when a woman or family walks into a clinic seeking health care for a specific health ailment, special attention and care is taken by social workers and health professionals working in tandem, to evaluate the patient comprehensively. The patient’s family issues and burdens in their lives are discussed to deliver an integrated and cohesive package of healthcare, education/job advice, and social-welfare services to put the woman and her family on a successful path toward optimum health, stable family units free of violence, and economic independence.

"Therefore, adopting a foundation of Christian values to serve and protect the most vulnerable communities, I have sought expert advice to create an effective delivery model of comprehensive healthcare, which is achieved by providing services in the following areas: prenatal care, postnatal care, pediatric medicine, adult medicine, elderly care, mental health services/smoking cessation programs, dental care, social-welfare intervention services addressing abuse and violence in families, and English programmes for adults and young children to increase opportunity.

At this time, ABS is working with Bishop Bonsu, Dr. Adade and Diocese leadership on feasibility study, strategic planning and fundraising for long-term medical development. This includes direct efforts with foundations, individual donors, and fundraising campaigns, with focus on health advancement in the areas of birthing, women’s health, infectious disease, and emergency services.

To date, Diocese leadership has been very supportive in providing extensive detail on current patient services, available health personnel, prevalent illnesses, water and electricity resources, and related issues to the feasibility study. Our next step is for Dr. Adade to join ABS on a visit to Konongo-Mampong in conducting local survey of the clinics, and obtain additional information on health challenges and infrastructure to finalize the development plan and arrangements with strategic partners.

If you would like more information, or to make a contribution to support the Bishop Health Centers development program, please contact Reverend Father Francis Aning Amoah, Dr. Aaron Adade, or Velma Anne Ruth, President of ABS.

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