Saboba Medical Center, Ghana
The town of Saboba sits on the northeastern border of Ghana, West Africa. English is the official language. Most of the population lives by subsistence farming, but they contend with poor soil and scarce water. People coming for care at Saboba Medical Center suffer from malaria, malnutrition, pneumonia, pregnancy complications, schistosomiasis, typhoid fever and other water-borne infections.
Jean Young, a board-certified American surgeon, encourages students and residents to come and provides constant supervision. They participate in the full range of care provided at the medical center, including hospital, clinic and public health responsibilities. Students may particularly enjoy the opportunity to participate in surgeries, as well as the clinically challenging infectious disease cases.
Location & CommunityThe town of Saboba sits on the northeastern border of Ghana, 120 km west of the major northern city of Tamale. Saboba, the capital of the Saboba-Cheriponi district, has a population approaching 120,000. Savannah with gently rolling hills and flat grasslands surround the town. The majority of the population lives by subsistence farming but they contend with poor soil and scarce water.
The rainy season lasts from approximately May or June through September or October. During this time it rains every two to four days-sometimes torrentially but usually only lasting one to two hours at a time. The lush green land ranges in temperature from 21° C (70° F) at night to about 32° C (90° F) at midday. Thought the prettiest season, it brings the greatest number of mosquitoes. The dry season usually begins in October and continues until about May, during which it virtually never rains. Daytime temperatures can surpass 37° C (100° F).
TransportationVisitors fly into Accra, the capital city of Ghana. Arrangements will be made to overnight at one of the excellent guesthouses in Accra that may provide transportation from the airport as well. The following day visitors usually take a domestic flight to the northern city of Tamale. A representative will meet the flight in Tamale and then make the 160 km (110 miles) drive back to Saboba Medical Center.
Visa RequirementFor the most current information, please visit the Ghanaian embassy website appropriate for your country. Americans require a visa for entry into Ghana. The visa must be obtained in advance and cannot be received at the airport. Contact the Ghanaian embassy for visa application information: http://www.ghana-embassy.org. Be sure to apply for a visa at least two months in advance. OBTAIN A VISITOR VISA ONLY.
Traveler’s Health & SafetyPlease check the CDC travel website for the most up-to-date health information: http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/default.aspx, and consult with your physician before traveling. As Ghana is a malaria-endemic country, malarial prophylactic medication is generally recommended. One should frequently apply insect repellant and sleep under a mosquito net. Vaccination against hepatitis A and B must be up to date. Visitors are advised to regularly check the U.S. State Department website for the most up-to-date information regarding country specific travel information http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1765.html
Visitors are advised to regularly check the U.S. State Department website for the most up-to-date information regarding travel advisories: http://www.state.gov/travelandbusiness/
PatientsFor the most part, the impoverished subsistence farmers and families of the region come for care at Saboba Medical Center. Common medical problems include malaria, malnutrition, pneumonia, tropical ulcers, inguinal hernias, pregnancy complications, schistosomiasis, hypertension, anemia, typhoid fever and other water-borne infections.
LanguagesEnglish is the official language of Ghana. Visiting medical personnel can function in English, with translation available for the approximately twenty local languages one may encounter.
FacilitiesThe Ghanaian Assemblies of God Relief and Development Services NGO operates Saboba Medical Center. The medical center began in 1949, and has grown to include public health, outpatient and inpatient services. The 80-bed hospital provides a women’s ward, a men’s ward, a children’s ward, and an operating theatre. The hospital admits and cares for patients 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The primary care clinic gives maternal and child health services, including immunizations. It emphasizes health education to reduce the incidence of malaria, malnutrition, guinea worm, and typhoid. It serves over 100 outpatients each day and provides public health programs to the community and local villages.
Health Profession StaffJean Young, a fellow of the American College of Surgeons with subspecialty in pediatric surgery, directs Saboba Medical Center. Dr. Diego Manzoni, an Italian Anesthesiologist, and a number of visiting medical professionals also assists Dr. Young.
Student ExperienceJean Young, a board-certified American surgeon, encourages students and residents to come and provides constant supervision. They participate in the full range of care provided at the medical center, including hospital, clinic and public health responsibilities. Students may particularly enjoy the opportunity to participate in surgeries, as well as the clinically challenging infectious disease cases.
Student Lodging & MealsThe nearby Mbiib-Do Guest House hosts visitors and provides running water, flush toilets, cold-water showers and meals.
Outside CommunicationInternet access is rapidly developing in this region. Options include use of a wireless modem connected to one’s computer through a serial or USB port. Cellular phone service is readily available.
Facility SupportINMED invites all participants to consider raising extra funds to donate to support the facility. This is not required but allows INMED participants to become involved in every aspect of medical missions.
Behavior & DressWomen must be very conscious of their appearance. Blue jeans are discouraged and are too hot for the weather. Do not wear halter or sleeveless tops, and keep cleavage and belly covered. The culture of Saboba accepts dresses, skirts or slacks, as well as tops with short sleeves and modest neckline. When in doubt wear a dress or a skirt well below the knee.
Men wear slacks, shirts or sports shirts. One should wear lightweight clothing given the weather, and blue jeans are discouraged. Men occasionally wear a tie to church, but rarely a jacket. Shorts may be worn only after work hours.
Given the risk of insect bites, footwear must be worn at all times, including while inside the guesthouses. Bring shoes and sandals fit for every occasion.
What To PackFor complete suggestions please visit http://www.sabobamedicalcentre.net/ghanatravelguide