Hoping for a domino effect

A physician has a challenging first day on the job in Ghana

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Greg Basura, M.D., Ph.D., remembers the first time he examined patients in an ear, nose and throat clinic in the West African nation of Ghana.

The examination room was crowded with 10 to 15 nurses, doctors, residents and other people. He was trying to figure out the set-up and the workflow. What instruments were available? How did the patient’s chair work? What did the medical records say?

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A collaboration, not a mission trip

U-M physicians train their Ghanaian ear, nose and throat colleagues

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U-M otolaryngologist Mark Prince (right) confers with Dr. Alex Oti of the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi, Ghana. Prince and several colleagues recently spent a week in Kumasi collaborating with Ghanian doctors.

 

Doctors do “mission trips” all the time. They take a week or so off from work and travel to a developing country. They treat several patients and then they fly home.

No doubt, such trips can have a huge impact on a patient’s life. But Mark Prince, M.D., wanted to do much more than that when he and his colleagues began thinking about working in the West African nation of Ghana. They didn’t want to just provide sporadic care.

“We wanted to go to a place where care was already being delivered at a certain level and assist them with getting to the next level,” said Prince, of the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at the U-M Health System.

The U-M physicians’ goal was to work with their Ghanaian colleagues to create a training program — an educational collaboration. In the past two years, they’ve already made much progress with such a project at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, or KATH, in Kumasi — the second-biggest city in Ghana.

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