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Corkman helps deliver vital African health initiative

Wednesday, 31st July, 2019 4:25pm

A Cork student has taken part in a life-saving healthcare training mission in Ghana which could transform living standards for up to a million people.

Quintain Noonan, a paramedics student in University of Limerick (UL) from Cork city was part of a team from UL Hospitals Group (ULHG) and UL which recently completed its three-year plan to establish a programme of emergency care skills training for healthcare workers in the remote Upper West region of Ghana.

Learning for Lives Ghana (LfL Ghana), a collaboration between ULHG, UL Graduate Entry Medical School (GEMS) and UL Paramedic Studies in partnership with the national health service in Ghana, has travelled annually to the regional capital, Wa, since 2016.

The group has provided 240 community-based health planning and services (CHPS) workers with basic life-saving skills including hand hygiene, sepsis, physiotherapy, nutrition and neonatal care, both in the community and to hospital staff.

Its ‘train the trainer’ course also has also created a local training cohort in the Upper West of 30 trainers, including eight ‘super trainers’, meaning the vital programme can continue for years to come.

Noreen Spillane, Chief Operations Officer of UL Hospitals Group said: “Humanitarian volunteering is a key part of the group’s strategy, establishing links with the developing world in a sustainable, targeted and meaningful way.

“The project in Ghana realises this key strategic objective and we are very proud of the team’s achievements to date in Ghana.”

Frank Keane, senior clinical teaching fellow in Paramedic Studies, UL GEMS) said the LfL Ghana project was vital in a society where even the best primary health infrastructure in the region was on a par with the Ireland of the 1930s.

“Journey times in Ghana would be unimaginable in Ireland,” he said.

“We met one lady who’d carried her 12 year old son for six hours to get him to hospital because he was ill with malaria.”

Dr Joe Kelly, emergency medicine consultant, said: “If someone became unexpectedly unwell, they might have stayed in their hut in their village, unwell, and possibly died. They might have gone to a traditional healer, or travelled four or five hours on the back of a motorbike to hospital.

“By training community nurses to undertake stabilising procedures and provide pre-hospital emergency care, we’ve made such journeys less necessary and provided more options, and the fact they are now providing the training themselves is fantastically exciting.”

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