My summer internship has had an interesting start. I officially started working roughly two weeks ago after being in Accra for two months. There were many bumps in the road that no one could have really seen coming. I came to Ghana early May and once my Michigan mentor arrived, everything seemed well planned and peachy. We met with the appropriate people we needed to have our project re-approved, and we were reassured that by the second week of June we would be starting our research full time. Until then, our tasks were relatively easy, we would review the previous year’s data and shadow the doctor’s we would soon be working with.
However, the second week of June rolled around before we knew it and we had no news of our research proposal being approved. Our mentor in Accra and the principal investigator on the project were not being much help as they were preoccupied with their full time jobs as heads of departments and physicians. After many phone calls, emails, influence from our Michigan mentor, we were able to get everyone on the same page so we could FINALLY begin our research.
This whole process was definitely frustrating and an eye opening experience for me. This was my first time truly seeing how different the healthcare systems in non-Western countries work and how foreign research can be a difficult task to begin. Everyone in Ghana has a very lax approach and there is never a sense of urgency which is very different from what I’m used to. Since I’m Ghanaian, I’ve had experience with the whole “Ghana Man Time” and how everyone shows up late to weddings, funerals, and even church but seeing this mentality in a place of business was very shocking to me. Overall, I’m glad I was able to go through this stressful period of time because nothing worthwhile comes easy. Also, in the future I hope to return to Ghana to help improve issues within their healthcare system so this is a wonderful opportunity to see the multitude of hardships I could potentially face in the future.