by Kaila Helm, Biological Basis of Behavior ’20; Kathleen Givan, Bioengineering and Political Science ’20; Katharine Cocherl, Bioengineering ’20; Hope McMahon, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering ’18; and Dave Pontoriero, Biotechnology MS ’18
David Issadore, a faculty member in the Department of Bioengineering at the University of Pennsylvania teaches an engineering course ENGR566 – Appropriate Point of Care Diagnostics. As part of this course, he and Miriam Wattenberger from CBE, have taken nine Penn students, most of them majoring in Bioengineering, to Kumasi, Ghana, to study the diagnosis of pediatric tuberculosis. While in Ghana, these students are blogging daily on their experiences.
We started off today by visiting a disease control center at Manhyia District Hospital. It was interesting to hear how they distribute monthly doses of their TB drugs. Unlike some of the other clinics we have visited, they had not received any pediatric TB as of this year and felt that TB was confined to highly populated communities within their district of 300,000 people. Although HIV is still an urgen issue, it was nice to hear a little bit of good news. We visited their lab, where they process their smear microscopy samples. For any multidrug-resistant (MDR) TB cases, they must refer their patients to KATH, which has better facilities to treat these patients. We then got to talk to the hospital’s only pediatrician in the newly built children’s ward. However, the hospital still experiences space issues that prevent mothers from staying in the same rooms as their newborns and that cause some children to be placed in the adult ward.
After our visit at the hospital, we began an exciting afternoon of activities. The program coordinator Nana Yaa planned a scavenger hunt of 10 items that we had to find in Kumasi’s large market before coming back to campus by tro-tro. We split into four groups and set off into the crowded streets in search of items such as bananas, something black, a picture with a kayayei, an ingredient for dinner, and a few other things We met several people along our journey. The vendors throughout the street were very friendly, wanting to help us find the goods we were looking for. We got to practice our Twi and we made several people laugh as we asked them for bankye kakro, a small fried ball made of cassava.
The team then went back to the guesthouse and shared everything that we purchased. The guys got live crabs for their dinner contribution, so everyone had a good time helping with the preparation. The competition resulted in a four-way tie (we’re all winners!!!) , and we went out to an outdoor barbeque restaurant for our celebration. Everyone got tilapia and banku, making it one of the best meals of the trip thus far. We then took a scenic tour around Kumasi for a bit and finally met back up at the guesthouse for ice cream and stories.