UA Medical Student Works to Create Change in Ghana

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Charity Adusei brings more than intelligence and determination to the Class of 2015 at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson. The 24-year-old also shares her passion, enthusiasm and conviction for philanthropy with her 113 classmates.

As a native of Ghana, Africa, Adusei moved to the United States to complete one year of high school before starting higher and post-secondary education at the UA. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in molecular and cellular biology in May 2011 and began medical school a few months later.

With less than one year of medical education under her belt, Adusei already has become involved in many College of Medicine clubs, boards and organizations. Her desire to get involved has enabled her to bring charitable work into the many groups within the college.

She is one of three individuals who founded the philanthropy, The Beds for Life Project.

The group’s mission is to fundraise to purchase maternity beds for Ridge Hospital in Ghana, Adusei said. So far, Adusei and her peers affiliated with Global Health Forum have hosted bakes sales on Valentine's Day and during Global Health Week. She explained that the hospital is one of the most popular in West Africa. Although there are well-trained, respected physicians, Adusei said the facility lacks the necessities to operate in an appropriate manner. 

Adusei was first informed of this reality in her homeland through a friend. After watching a video produced by TV3 Network Limited (TV3 Ghana) about the lack of beds for patients, Adusei said she felt called to lend a hand and create change.

“This hospital was built years ago when the demand wasn’t that big. There were few women who needed help. But even now, it’s been years and years, and they are still using the old beds and the old facilities,” she said. 
Adusei explained that when women go the hospital to receive treatment and give birth to their children, they are forced to lie on the ground.

“The women are on the floor groaning and moaning. They have nowhere to go and they are in pain. There is no bed available, so basically they all end up on the floor waiting for their turn on the bed,” she said. “And if luckily their baby decides to come when a bed is available, then they get to have the baby on the bed for like five minutes or ten minutes. If they are not lucky, they have to have the baby on the floor and the conditions are not sanitary.”

Cleanliness is another issue.

“They don’t even have time to clean [the] floor because there are always women on the floor. They have only one toilet and the conditions are so bad. I was particularly surprised because this is supposed to be a nice, big hospital. It made me more scared for the small hospitals in the rural areas. I wonder what they even have.”

Although she is miles away from her homeland, Adusei said she plans to continue to raise support and awareness for this cause.

“We had a Valentine's Day sale and bake sales during Global Health Week. We are hoping to do more next academic year,” she said. “Beds for life is currently affiliated with Global Health Forum."

After completing medical school and residency, she said she hopes to provide patient care within the specialty of obstetrics and gynecology.

“I want to return home to Ghana,” she said. “That’s always been my goal. After residency, I’m hoping to work here [and] get credible.”

She is quick to praise the opportunities, facilities and technology present on the UA College of Medicine campus. 

“The U of A has a lot of things I didn’t expect. I was looking for a school with a grad program that was willing to adapt and progress. As I went to the other schools, in the east coast, in the south, all over the place, I realized that we had everything here that they had, and even more,” she said. “We have a great curriculum that is willing to take the ideas of students and integrate [them] into the program. We have great facilities, really high-tech stuff here that I didn’t think we’d have at a state school.”

After weighing her options, Adusei said she realized that the UA College of Medicine was the institution that would best prepare her for her future as a physician.

Although her desire is to return home one day, she admits there may be some difficulties reentering the culture there.

“It’s actually really difficult to go back to a place where you came from and try and create change because people don’t think you’re coming there for good reasons,” she said. “They think that maybe you didn’t do well in the states and now you’re coming back as a 'plan b,' or you think you know better than they [do] and you’re trying to change [their] lifestyle.” 

Despite the potential obstacles, Adusei said she wouldn’t let others’ assumptions get in the way of her desire to help women in Ghana. Until she returns, she plans to continue her work with The Beds for Life Project, improving medical conditions for those at home.