Ghana Trip to Study Tuberculosis: Day Eight

by Kathleen Givan, Bioengineering and Political Science ’20; and Katharine Cocherl, Bioengineering ’20

Ghana 8.2
Students taking a tour of the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) ICU. (Left to right: Katharine Cocherl, David Pontoriero, Kaila Helm, Hope McMahon, Benjamin [Ghanaian KNUST student])
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.

Ghana 8.1
The vision statement, mission statement, and core values of Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) (click to enlarge).

We started our day by returning to KATH, although the clinical visits focused on HIV. We were lucky enough to see two patients, both heartbreaking and encouraging in their own ways. We were then shown around the sprawling complex that is KATH. The wards range from pediatrics and psychiatry to an elevated ward exclusive to those who can afford the price. We even got to see the oncology ward and speak to the head of the department. Interestingly, cancers such as skin and lung, which are prevalent in the U.S., are relatively rare in Ghana. However, cancers such as breast and cervical cancer account for 50% of the cases that they see. We finished our visit with a trip to the emergency room, which was somewhat oxymoronic, considering the grim conditions within the pastel walls.

We then had hoped to once again teach our students at the rural high school where we volunteer. Unfortunately, it looked too much like it was going to rain, so we were forced to turn back, since the children who must walk long distances to and from school were released early. For dinner, we headed over to a restaurant with live music and dancing. It was a nice emotional relief from our enlightening but taxing first week. The tilapia got rave reviews, and we learned that Ghanaian pizza tastes startlingly like cinnamon buns. We ended the evening by breaking out our middle school dance skills and having the Ghanaians show us up. All and all, a great start to a jam-packed weekend!

Ghana 8.3
Students enjoy a dinner of grilled tilapia and Alvaro (a popular soda in Ghana). (Left to right: Hope McMahon, Kathleen Givan, Benjamin [Ghanaian KNUST student], Priscilla [Ghanaian KNUST student], Danielle Tsougarakis, Katharine Cocherl, Kaila Helm)