While many of us spent our holidays sitting back, relaxing and enjoying the wonderful weather in many different parts of the world this summer, Middlesex lecturer Kelly Ncube spent her time teaching people in Ghana how to carry out basic life-saving and support skills – in communities where essential, local medical services are either limited or non-existent.
Kelly, who lectures in Mandatory and CPR Skills in the highly respected Middlesex University Nursing and Midwifery team, joined a volunteer programme organised by her local church in south east London. She travelled to the city of Kasoa in central Ghana to support the work of Reverend Dr Abbeam Danso and his wife, Evelyn, who in 2010 built Abbeam University along with a primary school and a health centre to serve Kasoa's poorer, outlying communities. The couple created a volunteer program to provide real, life-changing experiences for individuals to engage with their communities and be part of educational and health programmes.
Kelly volunteered on a programme that promotes healthy eating, sexual health and post-natal care at the 24-hour Abbeam Health Clinic. Due to the lack of Automated External Defibrillators, her focus was on Basic Life Support which she demonstrated using baby and adult training manikins donated by Middlesex to Abbeam University in 2016. Cardiovascular disease is a growing health problem in Ghana affecting some 20% of people aged between 30 and 70, meaning that the volunteering work undertaken by Kelly has never been more important.
"I would urge everyone to learn about life saving. I see basic life support as a humanitarian act which should be accessible by all"
Kelly Ncube, Lecturer in Mandatory and CPR Skills
Kelly said: “The Abbeam Health clinic, which is run by nurses, caters to a population of over 79,384. There is no doctor at the clinic, but one can be called in to deal with difficult cases. I also made a visit to St Gregory Catholic hospital in the centre of nearby Buduburam - a refugee camp established for Liberians in the 1990s which houses 42,000 people. These communities are very poor, and many people must travel significant distances to access just basic healthcare. Most patients rely on local taxis as the local ambulance services are not easily accessible like in the UK”.
“The healthcare I personally witnessed in Abbeam and St Gregory Catholic Hospital is not as advanced as our NHS. I saw a lot of constraints regarding medical equipment, and seriously long waiting times for patients in various departments of the hospital. Basic equipment we take for granted is not available here, including defibrillators – the device that gives high energy shocks through the chest wall to someone who is in cardiac arrest. Even adrenaline – commonly used during a cardiac arrest - was scarce.
“Because of all these factors, the work I did teaching local communities how to carry out basic life support techniques can really help save lives. I felt sad when a young man told me how, had he known about basic life support, he might have been able to save his girlfriend’s life. On a more positive note, I met a two-year-old girl whose life was saved because the nurses knew what to do when she had respiratory arrest.”
One training session Kelly found particularly rewarding was to teach student nurses how to make sure new mums knew how to react if their children began choking.
As she prepares for a new term in the Nursing and Midwifery team at Middlesex, Kelly said: “The contrast between the state-of-the-art equipment our students have access to and what I witnessed within healthcare settings in Ghana is stark. Unlike healthcare professionals in Ghana, our Middlesex students are required to learn emergency life support and must have a refresher before attending any clinical area placement. If they go on to work in the NHS they must do this training every year.
“I would urge everyone to learn about life saving. There is a brilliant App by the Resuscitation Council UK, called Life saver. You can download it from the App store on to your smart phones and iPads. I see basic life support as a humanitarian act which should be accessible by all, so I’ll be encouraging my students to pass on knowledge and learning to their friends and families, and to take up volunteering opportunities in communities where people may not have many material belongings, but where these basic skills can have such a profound impact.”.
Middlesex University has an excellent reputation for its Nursing and Midwifery degree courses, with students spending 50 per cent of their course learning practical skills in NHS hospitals, and access to cutting-edge training facilities and equipment at the University’s London campus. Middlesex also offers short courses in Basic Life Support and First Aid that are open to members of the public and organisations. For further details please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Students or staff interested in volunteer work in the Kasoa community, Ghana, can contact Evelyn Danso at email@example.com.