We all, at one time or another for humanity’s sake, take upon ourselves the natural obligation to examine our duties and characters and see where our heart truly lies. Our heart is where destiny, eternity and realities exist. Without acknowledging these, we fail to live to our full potential and people may suffer because of it. We may not always see the consequences of our actions, good or bad, but they are there and reflect who we are throughout our lives. There is no failure like that of a wasted life and making the most of life is of paramount importance. Life is a journey. It’s not our home where who we are becomes the channel we are watching or a road trip; our journey lies out among the people of the world wherein we can be the most beneficial. We must act for things to get done – there is a big world out there full of people who need help. As a generation, we answer to ourselves. The work is up to us; we lay the corners of our own house and set the finish on the rest of the walls. It is not the person who has lived many years that can say they lived a long life but the person who has suffered and enjoyed it the most.
There is a group of people who live by these rules who understand that their everyday lives are but a fragment to what they are truly capable of. They live by mercy and have a huge desire to benefit others to the point of suffering themselves which pushes them to be better human beings in service to others. They are a group from the Global Health track within the WVU Department of Internal Medicine and the WVU School of Medicine. They travel the world in some of the most remote regions from Africa to South America giving humanitarian and medical aid. Recently, this group consisting of two faculty physicians, four medical residents and four fourth year medical students traveled to Nalerigu, a village in the northeast region of Ghana, to volunteer at the Baptist Medical Centre. They would spend the month of February tending to villagers who may have spent days walking just to get to see a doctor.
In Ghana, the temperatures reached 100 plus degrees every day and at night dropped to a balmy 70. Under the direction of faculty physicians, Drs. Josephine and Rebecca Reece, the physicians and students, part of WVU’s Global Health track, finally got the opportunity to go back to the region after the COVID-19 outbreak. According to their website, Baptist Medical Centre (BMC) was founded in 1958 and is a 180 bed hospital whose reputation brings people from as far south as Accra, the capitol city of Ghana, as far east as Togo and Nigeria, and as far north as Burkina Faso and Mali.
Among the team that traveled were many West Virginia natives including Lucas Hamrick, D.O., a 2010 graduate of CCHS, Matthew Lokant, M.D. of Fayette County, Josephine Reece, M.D. and Rebecca Reece, M.D., both natives of Wyoming County.
They traveled from the capitol city of Accra to Tamale and finally to Nalerigu. While there, they assisted the local medical staff in the diagnosis and treatment of medical patients ranging from pediatric patients to the elderly. The team worked in the inpatient medical wards as well as the outpatient department which involved caring for well over a hundred patients per day. There were many maladies that the team cared for which are classic among populations. They were also able to gain experience caring for patients suffering from malaria as well as tuberculosis and typhoid fever, conditions that aren’t frequently encountered in their daily practice here in West Virginia.
In addition to their daily work, they were able to experience the beauty of the African landscapes as well as the beautiful spirit of the people who dwell there. Thanks to the hospitality of the local villagers, they also got to experience the many flavors of true African cuisine as well as participating in local sports including several grueling rounds of ultimate Frisbee.
One must remember that this area has some of the most outstanding people. They are a people who have limited resources, yet their generosity is to be admired. The group experienced qualities of satisfaction, patience and acceptance in a people who lived day by day in some of the harshest conditions on the planet. The trip was a learning experience as well as an opportunity to alter the fate of many people who came to visit the clinic and get the necessary medical help they needed. In the world we live with so much evil rolling across the landscape, it is a breath of fresh air to know that there are people with the goal to work towards victory and conquest overcoming the mindset of the word “can’t.”
The Global Health Track associated with the WVU Department of Internal Medicine was founded in 2014 and is designed to give resident physicians the opportunity to participate in and learn all aspects of global health and international medicine while receiving additional training in this field. Currently, fourteen Internal Medicine and Internal Medicine-Pediatrics residents are involved in the program. Ghana and Baptist Medical Centre have been a long term destination for this group.
T.T. Munger said, “There is no road to success but through a clear strong purpose; nothing can take its place.” Global health providers have found that purpose and are acting on that responsibility.