Friday, August 28, 2009

Typical Day in Kumasi

Today was a typical close to the business week. I have been tirelessly tracking down different health officers, bureaucrats, administrators, and medical personnel, and collecting the data I need to write my report and generate some of the other materials I am contracted to do. I have gotten much of what I needed, and today was meant to bring my collection close to 85-90%.

That didn't happen.

My first appointment was at one of the largest hospitals in the country. I was sent to meet someone at the storage units next to the ambulance drop off. Well, being one of the largest hospitals in the country, ambulances go to more than one place. I picked one, and there was a storage unit there - the central storage unit. I thought I was where I needed to go, but apparently there is more than one central storage unit (go figure). I happened to be at the one in the building as far away as possible from where I needed to be. So I walked for 15 minutes, along the "veranda," from X-ray, to theatre, to blood bank, to children's, up some stairs to the maternity ward, down the stairs to the clinic, down a hall to central storage (woohoo!), and of course the person I was looking, never mind the fact that they weren't there, the people at the place never heard of them. Finally I located the person, who was up to their eyeballs in inventory. After waiting for 15 minutes, I opted to arrange a meeting at another time.

I went to the Regional Health Offices to meet with a gentleman who has been away all week. He, of course, wasn't there. His colleague had no idea where the data I needed was located, nor did the biostatistician, who wasn't there actually (both started a few months ago). A woman I have been trying to track down for days (I even followed her to a national AIDS conference, I wasn't invited, but no one really questioned the bruni who looks official I guess) said she can't find any of the data I want because she is also new. I gave up on locating the TB person.

I went to get a tour of one of the hospitals. They were sitting down to a staff meeting, of the entire staff (hospital was still open, mind you). The administrator said come back Monday.

I tried to get some information on the National health Insurance scheme. The head of PR was out, and her assistant was leading a talk back on something (she asked me to join, but it was in Twi, so I passed). The people processing information were all occupied and the only other people available were in the complains department, and they certainly weren't about to stop chatting to give a poor girl a little background information.

I went to the district health office, and the data manager, accountant, and health officer were all out, both times I checked today.

I eventually gave up. So instead, I satified my need to feel like I accomplished something today, so I went for my history and cultural lesson, and visited the Ashanti king's palace, and took a tour of the adjacent museum. It was no Buckingham (although it was built by the British), but it was a fascinating palace of one of the past Ashanti kings, and much of the furniture and artifacts are preserved as the king left it (the current king lives in a new building behind the museum). The king's bookcase was still on display, and he had a copy of the Tanach (Torah, Prophets, and Judges), as well as a copy of "Bobby Locke on Golf" (I have no idea who that is, but I found it interestingly placed). I got to see a lot of the jewelery, traditional garments, phones, stools, and pictures of the Prempeh II, king for 31 years. It was a perfect tour - in English, short, well-informed, room for questions, and visually fascinating.

Now is the start of the weekend, where I get to sit on my hands for 48 hours, sweat is the oppressive humidity, and wait for Monday to roll around, where I get to fight the traffic of Kumasi to make it to my now packed second to last day here.


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