This past Monday, I got a very unique opportunity. For the past year, I have been involved in GlobeMed at USC, a national student run non-profit aiming to increase worldwide health equity and teach university students the value of partnership and sustainability. Our project with CareNet Ghana, our partner organization that I am in Ghana working with, was funding the training and equipping of 50 traditional birth attendants in the Akatsi district. And on Monday, I got the privilege to observe part of the training process.
I learned some interesting aspects of the training process that I would have never known had I not worked onsite with CareNet. The training I observed was a follow up where CareNet calls upon the TBAs to learn other aspects of maternal health. TBAs can chose when they want to have a follow up training and are typically eager for these sessions because it gives them the opportunity to continue their education. In fact, several TBAs who have never been trained came to the session because they hope to be trained by CareNet in the future. I continue to be intrigued by this. The TBAs in the communities are extremely proud to be trained TBAs and often carry their TBA kits with them wherever they go so that everyone knows they are trained TBAs. I hope that in the future, CareNet and other organizations will have the funds to train even more TBAs and thus further disseminate more health education throughout more communities and districts in Ghana.
In this follow up training session, the TBAs were taught the principles of family planning and mothers’ rights to health by the Akatsi hospital public health nurse. The nurse posed questions such as, “who needs family planning? Does one need family planning after menopause? What is the relevance of family planning in one’s life? If a mother initially refuses your services but has a complication during labor, do you help her?” Since the training was in Ewe, I was only able to pick up on a few of the answers to these questions. In response to the question regarding menopause, many TBAs felt that you still must educate older women on family planning so that they can teach their children and grandchildren. It seemed that the consensus was that family planning education was a necessary right to female health because it allows women to further their health education before starting a family. Some families here have as many as ten children, close in age. Learning family planning helps mothers leave time between their children, or have less children all together, so that they can spend more time, energy, and money on their kids. The TBAs felt that this would help children to become more educated because they could spend more time in school instead of taking care of their siblings while their parents work. By having this training session, TBAs are now able to administer nonprescription contraceptives and give accurate family planning education sessions in their respective villages.
On another note, I am now in Hohoe, Ghana. Hohoe is a few hours drive north of Akatsi, near the boarder of Togo. The drive was rough because of the conditions of the roads here. There are many enormous potholes, so our driver did a lot of swerving. Not to mention the monsoon-like rain on the final leg of the drive. It made for an exciting ride, that’s for sure. I will be working at the CareNet office with many of their other projects, as well as conducting interviews with the CareNet administrative staff for my research project. Hohoe is much more mountainous and lush than Akatsi was and I am definitely excited to explore! I’ve been told about some caves and hikes to check out in addition to the local monkey sanctuary. Nearby is the tallest waterfall in western Africa, which we are going to journey to sometime in the next two weeks. New adventures are on the horizon!