Where is Janga? Geographically, in Western Africa. Economically, on the border to poverty. Religiously, in Muslim northern Ghana. Anyone wanting to visit Janga needs lots of time and a good reason. But the health of Janga’s people is a very good reason.
There are more than enough diseases here: malaria, AIDS, tuberculosis, yellow fever, typhoid and hepatitis. But it’s a long way to the next hospital. To ensure basic medical care, Fresenius Vamed was contracted by the government of Ghana to build a polyclinic in Janga.
“I live here on the clinic grounds – I’m here with some workers and some patients around me,” Margaret Mahama, the midwife at the clinic, says as she greets us. A short time later, as we pass a terraced area at the front of the building where a few dozen people are waiting patiently, she explains, “This is the outpatient department.” Patients come from near and far. Sick people, pregnant women, mothers with their children. They come for help and for advice on how to help themselves.
In the last two years, Mahama has helped bring some 700 babies into the world, and she proudly shows us her delivery room and some of the wards. “This child is suffering from malaria, and we admitted her,” she says, looking at a small baby strapped to her mother’s back. “She went for treatment, and today she is going home.”
Patients come from near and far. They come for help and for advice on how to help themselves.
People with serious diseases are referred to the closest district hospital. There is one in Gushiegu. Fresenius Vamed adapts each facility to fit local needs. If the company has not been hired to run the hospital on the government’s behalf, Fresenius Vamed employees train the personnel and accompany them through the start-up phase. Plans for medical infrastructure are not approved without guarantees that equipment will be used and maintained properly once a facility has been turned over: This is not something that can be taken for granted in developing country projects.
Interpreters able to speak local dialects are available to patients during treatment. They help patients overcome their fears and their religiously based skepticism regarding modern, high-tech medicine. Clinics like the ones in Janga and Ghushiegu create many skilled jobs on a permanent basis for people who want to join in building Ghana’s future.
“I’ve just been signalled that there’s a woman in labor, so I have to go and see how I can help her,” says Mahama as we prepare to leave. What the future will bring is something the children of Janga have yet to experience. But what women like Margret Mahama have done for them, and continue to do for them – well, everyone here knows what that is, starting from the time they are born.