Selma, Ghana may join forces

Published 1:02 am Saturday, October 17, 2009

Selma may soon have ties with Ghana. Once Dr. I. M. Spence-Lewis, clinical coordinator and board member of the Community Directed Development Foundation, and her team break ground in the Krofofrom Village in Kumasi, Ghana will be one step closer to aiding the thousands ill with malaria.

By creating a “model clinic” because it can be built anywhere, Spence-Lewis envisions clinics of this same structure will be built in many other towns, whether that be in Tanzania or Mississippi. “This is the ideal place to start to raise awareness for the healthcare needs in Africa and fundraise in the Southeast,” Spence-Lewis said. Invited to Selma by the mayor, Spence-Lewis spoke to the Selma City Council Tuesday about joining Selma into the project she is creating in Ghana.

Spence-Lewis plans to pair Selma medical programs with the clinic in Kumasi, Ghana. Students will have the opportunity to exchange with the other clinic to practice medicine. Ghana’s clinic will also cater to indigenous medicinal practices. She would like the clinic to educate and perhaps retain most of its students for full-time employment. “If we help the world with the burden of disease, you’ll have less people wanting to leave the country because they’ll have the resources here,” Spence-Lewis said. Many students leave Ghana to practice medicine elsewhere, leaving a ratio of 1:44,000 physicians to those who are ill.

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Climates of the areas are similar in their problems with mosquitoes. “In Ghana, as throughout Africa, one of the biggest problems is open drainage. And that is breeding grounds for mosquitoes.”

She wants to understand the manners in which mosquitoes are controlled here to bring to the areas surrounding the clinic.

The clinic will cater to more than just malaria patients. It will also serve as a family and general clinic. “If you get your finger cut with a machete, you can get stitches there,” Spence-Lewis said.

Despite the country’s politics, all people will have equal opportunity for treatment. “As physicians we can’t say who to treat,” Spence-Lewis said. “There are no sides when people are ill.

It is imperative that Ghana receive the benefits of a model clinic.

“We need this because I see the kids suffering,” Spence-Lewis said. “They are one hour from death. Most of them had co-infections. I worked with up to three physicians on a child. They were so close to death that when you injected them, they didn’t cry.”

Every 40 seconds, a child dies from malaria.

Spence-Lewis studied, trained and researched in Washington state, New York, the Carribean and Europe. She thanks Selma for its hospitality. After finalizing plans for twinning Selma with Ghana with the mayor’s office, Spence-Lewis travels to Atlanta, the Carolinas, Seattle and then back to Ghana.