US group partners local collaborators for improved respiratory health in Ghana

Dr. Lisa Trujillo

A consortium of US-based and Ghanaian health institutions is collaborating with local counterparts to improve respiratory health in Ghana.

The partnership has already trained professionals in respiratory therapy at the University of Ghana in collaboration with Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, while the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology is set to take its turn.

Training of respiratory professionals is needed to manage acute heart and lung- related diseases.

Only the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital out of Ghana’s 5, 354 health facilities has a qualified respiratory therapist.

The Center for Disease Control identifies the respiratory disease as one of the world’s leading cause of mortality — higher than malaria.

A 22-member team from the Weber State University, Charity Beyond Borders, University of Kansas Medical Center, Dumke College of Health Professions, among others, is currently in Ghana to discuss arrangements to extend respiratory care to under-served populations.

Local collaborators include Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, University of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) and Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH), the Ministry of Health, among others.

Director of Clinical Education at Weber State University, Dr. Lisa Trujillo, initiated the idea and introduced a Bachelor of Science degree in Respiratory Therapy to the authorities of the University of Ghana in 2011.

With the support of Dr. Karen Schell, a Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas, United States, the duo have fronted for the establishment of this profession in Ghana.

Dr. Trujillo says a Respiratory Therapists are more positioned to deal with heart and lung conditions per their training.

“We are very integral part of the healthcare team. Physicians are very busy; they have a very high workload, the same as medicine staff. With our specialization with cardiac pulmonary diseases and disorders, we have a very concentrated education that gives us some specialization to be able to be at the bedside, recognize when patients are deteriorating.

“We are able to provide therapies and different things that reduce cost. We know as care is delayed, the cost goes up.”

Chief Executive of Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, Dr. Joseph Akpaloo, says management is ready to partner KNUST and foreign collaborators to improve on respiratory care.

Meanwhile, Charity Beyond Borders, one of the foreign partners of the consortium, has donated assorted respiratory medical supplies worth thousands of dollars to Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital. 

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