Harm H. de Haan, consultant in Ob/Gyn, Isala Clinic, Zwolle, the Netherlands
With pleasure I will take my responsability being “buddy” for Angelina Serwaa MINTAH. She is studying Medicine at the University of Tamale, Ghana. Angelina originates from Berekum, a small town in the Brong-Ahafo region, about 8 hours drive south-west of Tamale. Berekum is a regional centre, a trading and farming country, with a population of about 40,000. In Berekum the Holy Family Hospital (HFH) provides medical services for the town and the surrounding areas, where lots of small clinics and district hospitals refer their patients to the HFH. Some 35 years ago I spent time working in the HFH; in those days, the mid-80s, the hospital was managed by (mainly) Dutch doctors who had specialized in tropical medicine. Since 7 years we have started a cooperation with the HFH again; former tropical medicine doctors from Holland visit Berekum 2-3 times a year for training and teaching purposes. The local situation in Berekum has changed enormously; Ghanaian house officers, medical officers and even fully qualified specialists (Obstetrics and Gynaecology, General surgery, Paediatrics and Internal medicine) run the hospital, participate in the management and train Ghanaian medical (and midwifery) students. A very good, well managed and solid training facility has been created, where foreign aid is welcome, but not fundamentally needed any more. We have started a foundation (the “stichting Berekum; www.berekum.nl), started fundraising for teaching facilities and renovation of the old structures, and started a cooperation with the training facility in the Netherlands for doctors in International Health and Tropical Medicine (OIGT). Continuously, 4 of these OIGT trainees per year are given training in Berekum; now the Ghanaian specialists train and teach the Dutch doctors; completely the other way around compared to 35 years ago!
The continuity in the staff of the HFH is reflected by the presence of mr. Edward Mintah; head of the Operation Theaters in Berekum since over 40 years. He provided anesthesia in all those years, does training of Physician assistents in anesthesia, helps the young Ghanaian house officers and medical officers around and gives special care to the Dutch students, and house officers who spend some time in Ghana. He is of great help for our foundation, very valuable for the well being of the Dutch tropical medicine doctors (who stay at least 6 months in Berekum) and the everyday problems they encounter in Berekum. Edward is about to retire after spending a great deal of his life caring for the ones in need of medical help and advice in the Brong-Ahafo region.
One of his children, Angelina, has taken her father as an example and has decided to become a doctor. After primary and secondary school, she is admitted for her Medical training 8 hours drive to the North, at the University of Tamale. She is eager to become a good doctor, serving her country and its (sometimes very poor and poorly educated) inhabitants, she is focussed and determined not to disappoint the ones who believed in her and her abilities.
Therefor, I am pleased to serve as a buddy for Angelina. I will visit her the periods I am in Ghana, will keep in contact with her during her studies, and my be of advice to her when that is needed. I am grateful and thankful i-Step-Up gives Angelina the financial possibility to continue her study.
Photo: Left Harm de Haan, Right Edward the father of Angelina