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  JULY 10, 2009
Loma Linda SPH Research May Lead to Change in Ghana

wiafeThe northern half of the African nation of Ghana is likely to benefit from more donations of medical products—ranging from high-tech medical equipment to disposable sterile gloves to prescription drugs—following the release of results of a Loma Linda University School of Public Health study. Sometimes donations are the only way medical personnel in parts of Ghana can obtain needed supplies. Loma Linda University oversaw the survey, conducted in 2007, which studied the way medical products are donated throughout the country. The ultimate goal was to make recommendations for how donor organizations can best meet the country’s needs.

The nonprofit Partnership for Quality Medical Donations (PQMD) and Johnson & Johnson sponsored the project.

The survey revealed that medical facilities in northern Ghana were receiving far fewer donations than their southern counterparts. Project manager and Ghana native Mr. Seth Wiafe—academic director of Loma Linda University School of Public Health’s health geoinformatics program—believes that will change now that he and the other project partners have made the information public knowledge.

A consortium of individuals and institutions responsible for the research launched the findings in May during a forum held at Valley View University, 30 miles outside Ghana’s capital of Accra. At the meeting were representatives of PQMD, Obra Foundation, Koforidua Regional Hospital, Siloam Gospel Mission, Nation Builders International, World Vision, International Aid, Care and Concern, Mana Mission, Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) and Medical and Surgical Skills Institute (MSSI).

Many people contributed to the project. The field work was done by two students in Ghana—one from Valley View University, one from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. Equally important was spatial and statistical analysis of the data, followed by recommendations based on the results. Mr. Wiafe, faculty supervisors from these two universities, and Loma Linda research associate Ms. Ogonnaya Dotson-Newman did this part of the work.

In addition to showing neglect of northern Ghana where donations are concerned, the study demonstrated the necessity for more people in the country to be trained in repairing medical equipment. Because of the lack of this knowledge, medical facilities throw out broken equipment that could be fixed.

"I am hopeful that through this project, we can also contribute significantly to expanding the network of organizations that are involved in managing medical product donations at the community level while we evaluate the impact of medical product donations on public health worldwide," said Mr. Wiafe.

Loma Linda University has completed a similar study in Kenya and is now conducting one in Zambia, also supported by PQMD and Johnson & Johnson.

[In the photo above, Mr. Seth Wiafe speaks during the meeting at Valley View University in Ghana, where the study results were released.]