Saturday, October 23, 2010


National Health Week is an Annual program organized by the Federation of Ghana Medical Students’ Association(FGMSA) This year, the theme chosen was Caring for the lungs; breath is life. This was chosen to highlight some of the major lung diseases and also to relate the relationship between breathing and life. A team of three (3) Students were dispatched to the Kassena-Nankana West District to embark on the one-week intensive health education, promotion and campaigning. The following are the names of the students from University of Ghana Medical School who were stationed in the district;
•Mr. John Godswill Gyasi Banin (2nd Clinical year) – Team leader
•Mr. Stephen Nuworkpor-Gapson (2nd Clinical year)
•Mr. Amos Paintsil Annan (1st Clinical year)
The team left Accra for Upper East on Saturday at 5:30pm. After a grueling 21-hour journey, we arrived in Paga, the district capital of Kassena-Nankana West. The team was warmly received by Mr. Anthony, the District Disease Control Officer since the District Director of Health Services (DDHS) was not in Paga at the time of our arrival. The team was lodged at KUB’s lodged.

Kassena-Nankana West District was carved out of the old Kassena-Nankana District in 2008 which had Navrongo as the district capital. The district being in its infantile stages is under-resourced in terms the capacity of healthcare delivery yet it can boast of many innovations and successes amidst the challenging circumstances. The District Health Management Team has plans of getting a permanent Office complex and also putting up a district hospital and an apartment for medical officers. The District Director of Health Services is Mrs. Vida A. Abaseka and the District Chief Executive is Hon. Thomas A. Dalu.
The local languages spoken here are Kasem and Nankan. Some also speak Hausa and even Twi. We had no problems with communication as other health workers were on hand to help with the translation moreover, a lot of our audience could also understand Twi.
Paga, the district capital is on the border between Ghana and Burkina Faso. Paga has over 2000 inhabitants and most of the inhabitants are farmers. The District boasts of several attractions;
•Paga has two main Crocodile ponds. This is a real attraction as visitors can sit on live crocodiles! The friendliness of these reptiles has its history dating back to the legend on the first chief of Paga called Naveh who was helped by a Crocodile to escape from his foes. The crocodiles are believed to be the soul of the people and as such, it is unacceptable to kill or harm crocodiles in Paga. The team did not miss out on such a rare opportunity!
•Paga also has the Pikworo Slave camp in Nania. This was used as a transit camp for the trading by Hausa, Mossi and Zambrama slave traders in the era of slave trade. The district is also blessed with beautiful landscaping and open fields for farming.
•Paga also boasts of Paga-Pio’s palace. The home of the traditional ruler of Paga. It dates back to the Seventeenth century and has preserved the culture and tradition of the people.

This was our first day on the ‘work’ and we were scheduled to meet the District Chief Executive of the district. Unfortunately, we couldn’t meet him or the District Coordinating Director. This was because the D.C.E, Mr. Thomas Adda Dalu was indisposed at the time of our visiting and the Director was I a meeting. We rescheduled the meeting for another date that would be convenient.
The team met with the Officials of the District Health Management Team in the absence of the Director who met us later in the morning in her office. We discussed our schedule for the week. On Monday the 20th of September, it rained almost all morning and this limited our movement. Nonetheless, we made the best out of the situation by visiting the Paga Health Center.
At the Paga Health Center, we were conducted round the facility and introduced to the staff there as well by the Medical Assistant at post there. After this, we gave a health talk on our theme. This was a very interactive session as we asked questions and also answered questions from our audience. Of interest, a patient came forward and shared his success story about quitting smoking. We all applauded him together with the rest of the audience. After the health talk, we stayed to help with the clinical work around. We retired to Kub’s lodge to rest for the next day’s work.

This day had been declared a public holiday in honor of Kwame Nkrumah’s birthday. However, relentless to fulfill our mission, we set off in the morning to the Martyrs of Uganda Health Center at Sirigu, a village in the district and also the Kassena Nanka East (KNE) Health Centre. This was about 20 minutes’ drive from the center of town. We divided ourselves into two groups to be stationed at both centers. KNE Health Center was however less busy because of the holiday and so we later joined and stayed at Martyrs of Uganda Health Center.
At the Health center, we gave a health talk on our theme and answered questions posed to us by our audience.
We had to help with the clinical work at the Health center since the place was over-crowded and the Medical Assistant at post had not yet arrived. This albeit challenging proved to be very fulfilling.
We returned to Paga for our lunch and rested from the day’s activities.

This day turned out quite unexpected yet very eventful and fulfilling. The medical Assistant at post at the Paga Health Center had to attend a meeting and the prescriber nurse was overwhelmed with the number of patients he had to attend to. The team assisted with consultation and clinical work at the health center.
This experience served as an eye-opener to the challenges faced by health workers working with limited resources in Paga and indeed in many parts of the country. The Ghana Health Service should do more to equip these areas and also the MOH should consider improving the infrastructural development in these areas. On our part as medical students, we realized the need to brace ourselves up and encourage our colleagues to accepting posting to some of these areas when we finally graduate as medical doctors.
From ‘work’ the team decided to have some fun today. We traveled on foot to Burkina Faso! We crossed the Ghana-Burkina Faso. In the evening, the team was privileged to meet and interact with the manager of our lodging place, Mr. George Kubuga. We are indeed grateful for your kind words.

On Thursday, the team paid a courtesy calls on the DCE (Hon. Thomas Adda Dalu) in his office. He officially welcome us to the district and we in turn updated him on our activities in the district so far and also outlined the rest of our schedule to him.
For the rest of the day, we were to be stationed at the Kassena-Nankana West Health Center at Chiana. We made the journey late because our vehicle arrived late from another important assignment. By the time we arrived in Chiana, the place was virtually deserted. We introduced ourselves to the staff there and had a brief interaction with them, telling them about our mission and also enquiring about their work. We handed over some educational materials and fliers to them and returned to Paga. Our mission was soon to be over in Kassena Nankana West District.

We left Kub’s lodged very late. We were scheduled to give health talks in one of the basic schools around and also at the mosque around noon time. Although the day started on a rather slow note, this turned out to be the most eventful day. Our first point of call was at the Tedam Junior High School. We went together with Mr. Anthony Kuseh, the District Disease Control Officer and had an interaction with the students and staff of the school for an hour. Here, we highlighted on the importance of hand washing with soap and water and also talked on our theme at length. We also asked students questions about the information we were giving them and in turn answered all their questions. Questions asked included questions about Tuberculosis, Lung cancer and even skin cancer. The headmaster of the school advised the team that some of us should consider coming back to the district after graduation because of the inequality in health worker distribution in the country.
Our next point of call was at the Central Mosque in Paga. Here too, we had a hearty discussion with worshippers after their Friday prayers. We communicated through an Interpreter. We spoke on Tuberculosis, Smoking and Lung cancer and also on H1N1 pandemic flu. Questions asked afterwards gave an indication the message had gone down well with them. There were however concerns about the side effects of the H1N1 vaccine. An issue about the vaccine causing death in some people was raised. We however tried our possible best to disabuse their minds on some of these. To this effect, we believe a little more education is needed since some people’s mind have been abused about the potential threat/ side effects of the vaccine.
A day with the crocodiles again was worth the trip. We went to the second pond at Zenga, still in Paga. It was here that we saw the biggest of these friendly creatures (At least, very friendly in Paga!)

From our interactions within the community especially at various health centers, we realized the public had some knowledge on what Tuberculosis (TB) is, what causes it, etc. Knowledge on other lung diseases such as Pneumonia, Asthma, etc was however not adequate. We reinforced the knowledge they already had and also explicated on the various diseases they had questions about.
A very encouraging observation made was the good health seeking behavior of the people of Kassena-Nankana. Reportage to the hospital was quite encouraging and it was very remarkable that almost all the patients seen at the health centers we visited were on the National Health Insurance Scheme. The NHIA, Public Health Service and the district officials as a whole deserves commendation on this note.
Obesity is never a problem to grapple with here in Kassena-Nankana West District. Most inhabitants own bicycles and most are also engaged in Farming or other activities that involved some form of physical exertion. The people generally seemed hard-working. It appears this could account for the single case of diabetes in only one obese patient we saw during our entire stay in the district.
Worthy of mentioning is the fact that the whole district lacks the services of a resident medical doctor. Looking at the service burden, it would be appropriate to have a resident medical doctor. This will lessen the number of referrals made to the Navrongo Hospital especially when most of the patients referred to the Navrongo Hospital defer because of various reasons chief among which is the distance and also the wherewithal to do so. This challenged us to consider and also encourage our colleagues to accept posting to areas like Kassena-Nankana West and the many other places in the country that are under-resourced in terms of healthcare personnel such as medical doctors.

To the organizers of National Health Week (FGMSA), more educational materials should be provided as these aids in disseminating information. Visual aids could be employed in the campaigning to make it more interactive and meaningful. Monies given for contingencies and Transportation were inadequate.
To the district health management team and district assembly, it appears the district is doing quite well in servicing the health needs of her citizenry. We were particularly impressed with efforts to make expansion works at the Paga Health Center and also the plan to build a district hospital. The Ministry of Health, Ghana Health Service and all stakeholders in health should support this noble gesture for the good of the district.
Support for a program such as National Health Week is proof of the concern of district officials to educating the people of the district. We commend the district and recommend that future health promotion activities be encouraged since our interaction revealed a lot of people were still ignorant about some of the common health problems in our communities. The district itself could organize some of these programs and sensitize the people on some pertinent health problems. World Health Day celebrations such as World Heart Day, World Diabetes Day, World TB day, World No Smoking Day could be used to raise awareness on these health problems. The power of the mass media cannot be over-emphasized and the Public Health Service could employ this medium as a means of education by way of health programs on local radio stations in the local dialects.

Our most sincere and heartfelt gratitude goes to the almighty God for the guidance and protection throughout our journey here and also throughout our period of stay.
We are very grateful to Mrs. Vida Abaseka, District Director of Health Services for the warm reception and also for her able leadership in managing the affairs at Kasenna-Nankana West District. We will never forget the concern and the warm smile. Thank you and God richly bless you.
Also to the District Chief Executive, Mr. Thomas Adda Dalu. We are indebted to you for accepting to host us in your district for this program. You made us understand your doors were always open to us. Fortunately or unfortunately, we did not have to walk in through the door to your office again because we had a wonderful treatment by your people and had no cause to ever complain. Thank you very much for your commitment to your people.
To our very own father in Paga, Mr. Anthony Kuseh – Disease Control Officer, we say Daddy, God bless you richly. For your tolerance and cooperation, we will miss you a lot in Accra.
Also to Mr. Stephen Putiereh, driver at the District Health Authority and our chauffeur thanks for the time and the education about the places you took us around and the friendliness too. God reward your efforts.
Our appreciation also goes to Mr. George Kubuga, Augustine, Patience and the entire staff of KUB’s lodge. You made our stay one to remember for a long time to come. Thanks for the sumptuous meals too.
Our appreciation is never complete without mention of the numerous other people who helped in one way or the other in making our mission complete. And also o the entire inhabitants of Kassena-Nankana West, thank you very much for receiving us and may God kindly reward your efforts. God bless you all.

Friday, August 20, 2010


“So tell us; why do you want to be a doctor?”
“I have an unquenchable passion to help people and also to save lives, I am hoping that when given the opportunity, I will make good use of my passion and knowledge to help save lives.”
Hold on! That wasn’t my answer to that question! What if it were?
Well, this was the most interesting answer she had heard in years sitting on numerous panels to interview prospective medical students. That is according to the dean of the Medical School. I can clearly remember how much our lecturers used to tease us about this after we got admitted and started complaining about the long hours of lectures and study.
Looking back now, I can understand why it was so amusing to them. In their eyes, statements such as this one were made out of ignorance of what laid ahead of us.
Six years of medical school in this part of the world has given me a lot of experience to understand what my senior colleagues have gone through and also what to expect after medical school; a lot of challenging circumstances and lots of limitations and frustrations. Ironically, it also promises a lot of fun, successes with limited resources and a totally wonderful experience too!
A lot of changes; some good, others bad! Sum it all up and it makes that unique and wonderful experience!! Today is exactly four years after hearing news of my admission to the medical school; ‘the crème de la crème of the country’. That is what they called us. That also makes it exactly six years and 3 days after stepping foot on the land of Legon as a first year university student. Then, only 19 years of age.
From cutting open dead bodies(Cadaver) in the anatomy dissection room to injecting frog heart muscle in the physiology laboratory with all sorts of drugs; from trying to understand signal transduction to peeping into the amazing world of microscopic creatures (bacteria, parasites and fungi) and also seeing cells and tissues ‘with eyes of faith’. Those were the times. I can never forget the unique experience of having to wake up around 5am each day to catch the morning bus from Legon to Korle-Bu for lectures and other academic work. The stress, hustle and bustle of standing in the bus when you’re late and sometimes wanting to be gentlemanly, giving up seats for the fairer sex. Such a memory is hard to forget. As I reminisce, tears of fond memories such as these weld up in my eyes. Ooh… I nearly forgot my experiences in the lecture room! I was popular but for one notorious reason; I was only second to a friend who happened to sit by me everyday. Guess what we were culpable of? I was almost always nearly asleep during lectures! Only my seat partner came ahead of me.
Who can also forget the mighty and lowly all struggling to cross the 50% mark? That was all that it took! Cross the line and you are safe… “Either you blow more or you blow less!” perfect description by a late lecturer.
Soon, we moved on, having had a taste of this different life. We found ourselves getting closer to the ‘interesting’ part of the school.
In a blink of an eye, we moved on from the ‘serious side’ of the school to the ‘interesting side’. Suddenly, we were beginning to look like doctors! Carrying the tool of the profession with us wherever we went, the experience of talking to and examining patients. At first, this was a challenging yet thrilling experience. Then this became a boring cliché at least for me. Having my rotation in the department of medicine got me a little burnt out too; having to clerk a patient today and wondering where your patient was taken the day was not a pleasant experience at all. It was only a matter time and this was to pass too.
Seeing one year group after the other graduate fills you with joy and sorrow at the same time. Joy for your senior colleagues, sorrow for yourself. It makes your mind start working on the number of months, weeks and sometimes even days left for you. Sometimes leaving you filled with so many uncertainties about what lies ahead of you.
Today, I look back and I smile with caution. Cautious smile because there are still mountains to climb on the way. I have surmounted many already but I am yet to climb two of the steepest on the road. I smile cautiously yet confidently! Confidently and gratefully. Gratefully and humbly. I look forward with hope knowing that I have a greater story than this one to write one day. I am grateful to God for today, I have always counted these days and in each of them, I have counted His blessings, sustenance and guiding hand. He provided a way for me and led me on. He planted my feet on a high and promised to let the streams flow from a height. He promised sufficient grace and He hasn’t relented on this and he will not. All I ever am and ever want to be…
Through the struggles through the pain, the period of ‘want’ and dry seasons, through the darkness and the foggy days, I have always felt his faithfulness to me. Reminiscing through those times reminds me of the story of a certain young man.
He loved butterflies as a child naturally as his mother had influenced his early years. Soon he was married and with child on the way. One day while returning from work, he chanced upon a cocoon along the way. He picked it up, wrapped it up in his handkerchief and sent it home. He placed the cocoon in a clear glass jar and covered it with a rubber and made holes in the rubber. He then placed it on a height to keep it safe from the prying eyes of his cat. One fine morning, he saw the creature struggling and shaking violently. The shaking became more intense and the young man thought he had to intervene now. He took out his Swiss Army Knife and cut a slit through the cocoon to release its wings. The cocoon came out, open and spread out it wings, circled around the edge of the bottle and stayed at the same place to the young man’s disappointment. He consulted his neighbor who was a local biology teacher and narrated the ordeal to him. The neighbor smiled and said to him. That was the cause of it.
“You see” He went on “It is the struggling that builds up the energy needed to fly.” That is all the man said to this neighbor.
The butterfly could not fly away because it didn’t build up enough energy to fly off. Sometimes we complain too much and we look for easy ways out. We may not have the best of everything, we may struggle at one time or the other even in our Christian walk of faith. We should not forget what the Holy Scriptures tells us in James 1:2 - 4; “Count it all joy, my brethren, when ye fall into various temptations, knowing that the proving of your faith works endurance. But let endurance have its perfect work, that ye may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
It’s been and awesome experience for me and I praise God for everything.
Thanks for reading and I hope you lack nothing!!!

Catholic Hymnal 412
Green pastures are before me,
Which yet I have not seen;
Bright skies will soon be o'er me,
Where the dark clouds have been;
My hope I cannot measure,
My path to life is free;
My savior has my treasure,
And He will walk with me.

Sunday, July 11, 2010


We, unaccustomed to courage
exiles from delight
live coiled in shells of loneliness
until love leaves its high holy temple
and comes into our sight
to liberate us into life.

Love arrives
and in its train come ecstasies
old memories of pleasure
ancient histories of pain.
Yet if we are bold,
love strikes away the chains of fear
from our souls.

We are weaned from our timidity
In the flush of love's light
we dare be brave
And suddenly we see
that love costs all we are
and will ever be.
Yet it is only love
which sets us free.

By Maya Angelou

Friday, June 25, 2010

The angels of The Lord rejoices...

Oh what a joy to know and experience true peace! Hear the savior call out to you, "Come and have a seat" He bids you.
One precious and divine
Yet humble, kind and sublime!
A call to come, dine and wine
With the King of Kings!
Only our God can do this.
Watching out everyday, He longed for your return.
Preparing a banquet, He awaited your comeback from your sojourn in the world.
Never fainting in hope, He looked out each day and dreamt of your arrival every hour.

Being careful to make you comfortable, He set aside the best of robes and the choicest of calves to celebrate your return. His choir rehearses everyday songs of victory to celebrate you! They now await the day of rejoicing in the celestial realms!

To be continued...

Monday, May 24, 2010


The undoing that left nothing undone…

Amusing isn’t it? Sounds amusing and at first glance, a little more like contradictory.
There is however profound truth in these words I heard from my Pastor on May 23, 2010.
The day being Pentecost Sunday, I promised I was going to make up for the two weeks I had been busy working myself out with other less important things. Long time isn’t it? Yeah! Two weeks was awfully long to absent myself from the gathering of the saints. As I put my fingers to the keys on my PC, I just realized within this two-week period, I have (x) on my Christian Medical Fellowship Calendar I had pasted on my personal notice board. I had been punctual for four weeks each time making sure I ticked (√) each time I made it for the General meeting.
I had a very short sleep and my body ached all over. All the 206 bones in my body could testify they were weary and my back ached like I had fallen off a rampaging horse! My head felt like I was recovering from meningitis! Aching and very tense!
I planned to go for first Mass but I had to quickly change my mind in the morning when I woke up only to check my wall clock. 9:30am already! Almost late for second Mass! I hobbled off to the bathroom to take a shower and get ready for service. I could feel the aching muscles and bones and joints and my God… aching everything and drowsy eyes. Luckily, I had a shirt ironed some days ago and my pair of trousers was as good as ironed. I pulled on my socks, chose the lightest of my shoes lest I carry the extra burden of dragging along heavy feet!
The service didn’t start on time and that meant I only missed a brief part of Mass today. It got to Homily time (time to share God’s word). I listened attentively and I am forever grateful I made it for Church that day.
“Today is Pentecost Sunday, Hallelujah!!!!” The Minster was somewhat different today. Something different from the usual solemn, melancholic atmosphere I had become used to as a Catholic. The Priest today was more vibrant and Charismatic. I have to mention here that the congregation was also different! They themselves are usually the ones to create the solemn atmosphere. But today, they were in frenzy if I should put it that way. Of course, I spotted a few disgruntled and discontented faces mostly men and women who had been faithful Catholics for Three scores or more or should I say, the entirety of their lifetime! Men of faith and of good will.
I however enjoyed what I was witnessing. Being youthful and a charismatic catholic myself. An unforgettable experience and one that merited the honor of going down the catalogue of my famous adventures (this one not really an adventure, an awesome experience). As I sat down today (24th May, 2010), it dawned on me I could share this experience with you (my reader) if you would kindly permit me to so and I pray you do. I believe it will bless you just as it blessed me. I believe it will encourage you just as it encouraged me. And I believe your waiting to read the real story is over now!
Enough of my adventure then!

This is what I gathered from the message on that faithful day.
The Apostles after Jesus had been crucified met in the upper room where they chose to wait together on the Lord. Their Master had commanded them to wait for the promise of The Father He had so often told them about. So in obedience to their master, they waited patiently. Fifty (5o) days and nights they waited. Never doubting the promise and never relenting in the faith. Afraid and timid, yet hopeful and trusting. The master had promised them He was not going to leave them like orphans. They believed in it and they waited. They had waited for days and weeks! And yet they waited, still praying and counting the days, they waited. Theirs was not the mandate to discern when the promise was going to be fulfilled. Theirs was to trust in the words of the master and just WAIT!
So on the day of the Pentecost, the apostles are still waiting and the rest of the story follows;
Act 2:1-4
(1) And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
(2) And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
(3) And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.
(4) And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

The apostles were filled with the Holy Ghost and that was all that it required! Just waiting on the Lord and praying and waiting and hoping and a little more waiting!
The Spirit of The Lord came upon them and strengthened them to fulfill the purpose for which they had been called. Their mission could only be fulfilled with courage, the ability to speak in strange tongues, to heal diseases and cast out demons, to spread the good news in foreign lands and other marvelous deeds. Some were whipped for the gospel, chased out of cities, imprisoned, suffering want and hunger and persecuted in every way. Some were even stoned to death whiles they rejoiced! Some fried in oil pots and some crucified!
But how come hitherto such cowardly and timid men now turned fearless and bold and courageous? How come the ones that denied their master in the face of slave girls now unashamedly and fearlessly now proclaiming the Killed man resurrected? Such blasphemy and contempt against the law and the dictates of the high priests and custodians of the law!
The answer is not far reaching at all! They had learned to WAIT! They had learned to wait on the Lord and FULLY trust on His promises. They undid (that I,s did nothing to enforce what had been promised them). They did nothing save holding on to the promise and having faith in the giver of the promise. They prayed and trusted and knew that there was no other way but TO TRUST AND OBEY. That was the undoing!
Indeed, the undoing that left nothing undone!
When we wait on God, He strengthens us.
“But those who wait on the Lord will find new strength. They will fly high on wings as eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31).
I once read an illustration from an article about waiting on God. It went like this:
“Did you know that an eagle knows when a storm is approaching long before it breaks? The eagle will fly to high spot and wait for the winds to come. When the storm hits, it sets its wings so that the wind will pick it up and lift it above the storm. While the storm rages below, the eagle is soaring above it. The eagle does not escape the storm; it simply uses the storm to lift it higher. It rises on the winds that bring the storm. When the storms of life come upon us, we can rise above them by setting our minds and our belief toward God. The storms do not have to overcome us; we can allow God's power to lift us above them. God enables us to ride the winds of the storm that brings sickness, tragedy, failure, and disappointment into our lives. We can soar above the storm. Remember, it is not the burdens of life that weigh us down, it is how we handle them.”
Such an inspiration from the eagle! May we learn and find truth in this and soar with wings like the eagles. Amen!
Waiting on God also avails us to His blessings. To wait on God is to sit back and say “Father, I cast all my cares upon You, for I know You care for me.” 1Pet 5:7.
It is to relax and know that God is in Control. It is to realize that “when the oceans rise and thunders roar, you will soar with wings above the storm.” It is to know that God is king above the storm and it is only under the pinion of His wings that we can take cover from the storm.
Not by our strength or our might. Our wings will indeed break in the strength of the storm if we relied on them. We are to remain still and know that He is God and King of the floods.
“Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for Him” (Isaiah 30:18).

God is willing and more than able to leave nothing undone in our lives. He calls us to a life of blessedness and peace and victory! He only calls us to be still and know that He is God.
In whatever sphere of our life that we feel we need the extra-push, whenever we feel we need help, whenever we feel we have waited for too long, let us not forget help is on the way if we will only trust and obey.

Teach me, Lord, to wait down on my knees
Till in your own good time you answer my pleas.
Teach me not to rely on what others do
But to wait in prayer for the answer from you.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Welcome address at the Departmenta Presentation

30th April, 2010

Let me begin by thanking the Almighty God for His grace and mercy, The Child Health Department for the opportunity granted us students to take centre stage on this particular day.

The Head of Dept, our most dedicated lecturers, Mrs' Pappoe and Quaye, invited guests, my hard working colleagues, ladies and gentlemen;

It is an honor to be called upon today to chair this special occassion.

I want to welcome us all to this important gathering.
Our common business here this morning is to try and understand more what we are confronted with everyday as we go about our duty in the Clinics and wherever we find ourselves.

We have done a good so far in studying our patients and their socio-economic background and I hope we even do a better job today in the presentation of our findings in the community and also in trying to bring out the correlation between what we see everyday on the wards and what we have seen in the communities we studied.

Just as Prof. Oliver-Commey will say and I say; "Wo'anhwe no yie aa, wonnhunu no yie" literally meaning, if you don't look well, you will not see well! The wisdom and the truth in this statement and I believe a testimony to this statement is what we are about to witness today.

Let me not keep you waiting a long time for the actual business of the day, indeed it will be a dis-service to you all and to these itchy ears of mine.

You are all welcome and thank you for listening.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


17:04 GMT
17TH APRIL, 2010
Godswill. I wondered why Godswill and not Godwill or even one of my brothers' name; Godfred, Godwin or Godson. Yes! Godson, I loved that one. It denoted the son of God.
Sitting in front of a panel of about 8 or so members, being interviewed for medical school. For the first time, it hit me straight! "So your name is Godswill, tell us, is it God's will that you be admitted to the medical school?" Those were the exact words from the head of the panel, the then vice dean of University of Ghana Medical School and currently the dean.
My answered was an unwavering and emphatic yes! Saying that with confidence and gleaming with joy and happiness before the august panel.
That was my first question and the only question that got me thinking deeply about my name after the interview and even up till now.
I had never thought about what my name really meant. I often got irritated when people asked of my ethnicity and I told them I was Akan. They would go on to say, "But your name sounds Ewe." I had grown tired and weary of having to narrate my family tradition of all male children having a 'God' in their names, like Godfred or Godwin or Godson. They would then go on to comment, "I have heard of Godwill before but Godswill, well." Those were some of the usual comments. I just was getting tired of all these and hence even cutting out that part of my name anytime I had to mention my name.

That day was very much different! Godswill, what did it mean to me? Why did my Daddy name me Godswill? I picked my cell phone and called Daddy and told him about the ordeal in the Conference room of the medical school. We laughed about it and chatted for a while, and then I put forth the question to him. His answer was, “Godswill means God’s will.” As simple as that!
On my own, I contemplated on it in my sober moments.
Little did I know it was going to come to me in such a lucid way as it did recently. Three years after my encounter with the panel that made a decision to help establish God’s will by passing me through that interview.
It was during a fellowship meeting of CMF. I had been away for so long, gosh!! And it felt good to be back. Through the time of praises and worship I felt like my American friend, Melissa when she went to the beads market! I couldn’t concentrate and kept on drifting between why and when and how I had drifted so far from such a fellowship. I thought about going away and never being helped by my family members, that made me feel something like anger or something else. Then I felt I had gotten it all wrong by myself and that I should just accept the responsibility, that made me feel guilty. Then I felt like, maybe it’s because I was involved in other activities since I was now the Health Officer of UGMSA and the Deputy National Health Officer of FGMSA. After sometime, I felt this one too amounted to excusing myself and running away from accepting the truth.
So throughout the service, I could not really follow through with everything. Then came my moment of deliverance and revelation if I should put it. The CMF president at that time mounted the stage in what seemed like his turn to lead us in prayer. First, he read some scriptures from the Bible and urged us to let go off everything and just focus on Jesus. I indulged myself in this exercise. I made a conscious effort to free my mind of the issues on my mind as at that time. It wasn’t an easy task but I tried very hard at this exercise. I succeeded and freed my mind.
It was during this hushed moment of my life that I felt the Lord speaking to me. This was something so unique and amazing. So humbling and awe-inspiring moment. I felt like a voice (The voice of The Lord) telling me this exact statement; “I have called you to fulfill my will.” It was a very enlightening moment of my life. I broke down at that point and cried for a period of time that I can’t remember. After the meeting, I called the love of my life and shared this experience with her.

Reflecting on this incident and all the antecedent events, I think of the importance and the power of names. I think of the story of Jabez (1 Chr 4:9) and of that Nabal (1 Sam 25:25) or even of the apostle Peter (Cephas) – a rock on which Christ built his church. Names can and does have that much power. Ours is to live to the meaning of our good names! Trusting the Master to always provide the ways and means of doing such. If we seem to be in the same predicament as our good example Jabez in the Bible, thank God, Jabez did show us an excellent way! Such an honourable servant of the Master. Jesus was and Is and Will be forever called THE CHRIST (Christos, meaning the Messiah or Anointed one!) Did he live out His name? Yes!!! He was God’s anointed and he went about doing good!
Act 10:38 How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.

Each of us has a story behind our names but most importantly, we have been called individually to fulfill specific missions in life. That is the second thought I have upon the reflection on whatever has been narrated so far. It is not about our dreams anymore but God’s dream and will for us. When we accepted the new life, that was the bargain we were making. We accepted that our way is of no consequence or better still was doomed for destruction and of devastating consequence. We acknowledge we needed someone to provide a better alternative to ours so we could see the dark and be freed from oppression by the ruler of this world.
Isa 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Rom 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God

Great and marvelous and wise is this gift:
The just for the unjust.
The Master for the slave
The sinless for the sinner,
The creator for the creature,
Afflicted, rejected, chastised, bruised,
Mocked by the ones he came to save, etc.
-Isaiah 53

Yet, He did not even consider equality with God something to be grasped with; He agreed to take the place of the vilest of men so we could have a share in His inheritance.
Upon all these, man’s parts of the bargain are to Confess with the mouth and believe in his heart that Christ is the savior who died for man’s sins.

Rom 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

Surely, it’s the best you can get anywhere! A deal that will see us escaping all that we deserved.

Ours is to avail ourselves to be conformed to The Masters will. Let’s be guided by these words from Ps. Max Lucado:
To have my voice
But Him speaking.
My steps
But Christ leading.
My heart
But His love beating
In me, through me, with me.

To tap His strength
When mine expires
Or feel the force
Of Heavens fires
Raging, purging wrong desires
Could Christ become my entire?
Yes! That is Christ in me!

We must live in Christ and allow Him to live in us also. We must seek to find and understand what God’s will is for our lives and be ready to accept and live it out.

Back to my story, I also realized that, sometimes we seem to allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by circumstances and then look out for excuses to justify ourselves. We can never justify ourselves as I have already pointed out. We were like sheep gone astray… We must allow the spirit of God to work on us to transform us more and more everyday into Christ’s perfect image. When we are convicted, it is a sure sign of God’s love for us and a sign of The Holy Spirit at work in us – The Parakletos.

At times too, the church fails to recognize or should I say refuses to respond to members in genuine need. Some in our churches may not be in need of the doctrine of giving primarily. The church must identify those in need whether financially, emotionally, socially or those who are falling in the faith especially. It is our duty to correct with love and turn our brothers and sisters away from falling back or backsliding.
I sought to discuss how I came to realize an important revelation in my life about my name but I believe it was God’s will that I continued up till this point. He gives strength to the humble and wisdom even to the simple if he will listen.
God bless you for reading.

John Godswill Gyasi Banin
National Health Officer, FGMSA.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Life's Great Play

We are all in Life's great play - comedy and tragedy, smiles and tears, sunshine and shadow, summer and winter, and in time we take all parts. We must take our part, whatever it may be, at any given time, always bravely and with a keen appreciation of every opportunity and a keen alertness at every turn as the play progresses.
A good "entrance" and a good "exit" contribute strongly to the playing of a deservedly worthy role. We are not always able perhaps to choose just as we would the details of our entrance, but the manner of our playing and the manner of our exit we can all determine, and this no man, no power can deny us; this in every human life can be made indeed most glorious, however humble it may begin, or however humble it may remain or exalted it may become, according to conventional standards of judgment.

We progress in the degree that we manipulate wisely all things that enter into our lives, and that make the sum total of each one's life experience. Let us be brave and strong in the presence of each problem as it presents itself and make the best of all. Let us help the things we can help, and let us be not bothered or crippled by the things we cannot help.
The great God of all is watching and manipulating these things most wisely and we need not fear or even have concern regarding them.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Health Week 2009

Annual National Health Week is an initiative of the Federation of Ghana Medical Students’ Associations that brings the medical student closer to the community and affords the medical student an invaluable opportunity to bring his/ her knowledge and acumen to bear on improving the life of the ordinary Ghanaian. During Health Week, Medical Students all over Ghana (FGMSA) are given one week off lectures and ward sessions so they can travel to districts across Ghana and engage in a one week intensive health education/ campaign
Students are trained as volunteers in pertinent health issues and then dispatched to the various districts/ regions to embark on a far-reaching health education campaign. Collaborators over the years have been the Ministry of Health (Major collaborator), The Ghana Health Service and interested corporate entities.

Malaria continues to be a major health challenge in many parts of Sub-Saharan Africa, Ghana, very much, inclusive.
According to the 2008 Ghana Demographic and Health Survey, malaria is responsible for up to 50% of in-patient admission and 44% of out-patient visits remain malaria related. Among pregnant women in Ghana, 14% of out-patient visits, 11% of admissions and 9% of deaths are due to malaria and its myriad complications.
Though absolutely preventable and very curable, many pregnant women and children under five continue to die needlessly from malaria. Thus the theme for this edition was, Prevent Malaria; save a mother and a child.

Activities lined-up for the week-long celebration were as follows;
12/09/09 – Awareness walk in Accra and Kumasi
19/09/09 – Grand-durbar and Launch of Health Week 2009.
20/09/09 – Departure of teams of volunteers to the various assigned districts.
21/09/09 to 26/09/09 – Health education/ campaign in the various districts.

The focus of our message revolved around the following three thematic areas in terms of preventing malaria:
1. The use of insecticide treated nets,
2. Improved health seeking behavior and effective case management of malarial illnesses,
3. The importance of adhering to the full course of Intermittent Preventive Treatment for pregnant women.
Teams of at least four students were stationed in each district and their task was to carry the message to the general public. Volunteers did this by outreaches to High schools, Talk shows at workplaces and offices; health talks at antenatal clinics and child welfare clinics. Other means used were the use of information vans provided by the district assemblies and also through the use of local radio stations.

By working in collaboration with the District Health Management Teams in the various districts, we managed to effectively carry our message on malaria in pregnancy and children to the communities. Other achievements of the project included the following:
1. Distribution of 100 Insecticide Treated Nets and 100 insect repellent creams to Pregnant Women attending antenatal The La general Hospital.
2. Distribution of about 10, 000 K-O TAB retreatment drugs for the mosquito nets nation-wide.
3. Demonstration of how to re-treat mosquito nets.

It is our firm believe that through the celebration of Annual National Health Week, we have made our contribution to helping Ghana achieve her Millennium Development Goals especially Goals 4 and 5 (i.e Reducing Maternal and Child Mortality).
The FGMSA hopes to build more partnerships in the future with other NMOs and agencies to make Health Week more meaningful and effective.

Health Week 2009 - Preventing malaria; saving a mother and a child!

Written by John Godswill Gyasi Banin
Dep. National Health Officer, FGMSA
Public Health Committee Chairman, UGMSA