Maternity Ward Funding Project

(for the Dzemeni Clinic near Ho, Ghana)

Where is Ghana?
Ghana is in West Africa, on the Atlantic coast, between Ivory Coast and Togo. It is a 10-hour flight from New York to Accra, Ghana’s capital. English is spoken throughout the country. In 1957 Ghana was the first African country to regain its independence and today enjoys greater stability and safety than other countries in the region.

How did First Presbyterian Church become involved in Ghana?
Our church has members and friends from West Africa. We have been sending financial support to various ministries in Ghana for many years, but in 2014 we sent our first team there to discern the calling God had placed on our hearts to get personally involved. That initial trip has since birthed deep friendships that regularly span the ocean between us, thanks to social media and subsequent trips here and there. This fundraising effort is one of the ways we are partnering with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Ghana (EPC). We continue to support and be personally involved in several other efforts in other parts of Ghana.

Why is FPC building a coalition to fund a maternity ward in Ghana?
On our church’s second trip to Ghana, Sib and Patti Law spent significant time in Ho with EPC leaders, learning about their ministries and listening to their concerns for their community. One of their outreaches is the Dzemeni clinic. When the Laws asked which of their projects they need help with, they immediately shared their deep desire to expand and improve their health services with a separate maternity ward.

Where is the Dzemeni Medical Clinic and who runs it?
The Dzemeni clinic (pronounced “Jemeny") is run by the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC) and provides essential health services to the region. It was created in 2000 on land donated by the Chiefs and people of the community. Funds for construction came from the local Church, Presbyterian Answer to Hunger (PATH) from Germany, and Friends from the Nebraska Conference. The Clinic is located west of Ho and east of Lake Volta. The government pays about 45% of the staff salaries and the rest are paid from funds generated from the Clinic. It is the second largest facility in the district.

What are the demographics and health issues of the population served by the clinic?
Dzemeni has a population of about 46,661 inhabitants, with a little more than half being women. About 80% of the population is Christian, 3.3% Muslim, 3.8% traditionalist, and about 4% do not belong to any religion. About 58% of the clients are farmers, and the rest are formal workers such as teachers, health workers, and local government workers. About 60% are children, and about 67% of the households are crop farmers. The clinic provides primary and secondary health care for conditions such as malaria, diarrhea, upper respiratory tract infections, and skin infections.

Why is a separate maternity ward necessary?
A separate maternity ward will decongest the outpatient depart, reduce the possibility of reinfection, ensure the privacy of new mothers and babies, and create an environment of serenity conducive to healing. A 2010 survey records that 45 infants and 66 children under five die annually. It is estimated that a well-equipped maternity ward could save 10 infants and 15 small children every year.

Would more women deliver safely if the Dzemeni Clinic had a maternity ward?
The EPC expects the number of deliveries to double with a well-equipped maternity facility, from 3 to 6 births/day. Currently, new mothers’ health is compromised as they recuperate together in one small room, just feet from other new mothers and babies. The lack of a well-equipped birthing facility causes some expectant mothers to request transfers to larger facilities when their delivery draws near, and some specialists invited to the clinic to provide services choose not to come because of the inadequate facilities. A maternity ward will allow staff to save more lives, care more effectively for mothers and babies, and bring in specialists to share their expertise with patients.

What are the most common maternity complications seen at the clinic, and how well are they able to respond to them?
The most common maternity complications are retained placenta, bleeding, and malaria during pregnancy. The Dzemeni facility is not equipped to deal with these situations because of the absence of specialists and equipment. They must refer expectant mothers to a larger facility that is 90 minutes away on very rough roads.

What pre- and post-natal care can be offered with a maternity ward?
Current pre- and post-natal care includes immunization of pregnant mothers against tetanus, dietary education, and prevention of HIV transfer from mother to child. Because the care that a mother receives during pregnancy, delivery, and after birth is vital to the survival and well-being of both mother and child, new services such as scanning and malaria treatment, and minor surgeries such as episiotomy, can be added at the new ward. Perinatal mortality also will be reduced by equipment designed to address some of the issues that arise during pregnancy.

How can we feel confident that our funds will go toward the maternity ward?
Our denomination has an experienced missionary to West Africa, Rev. Josh Heikkila. Josh lives in Accra, Ghana and, for the last two years, has been advising us and traveling with us to help us understand how best to partner with our brothers and sisters in Ghana. Josh knows the EPC leaders well and is well-respected among his colleagues. He has helped many American churches build partnerships such as this one, and knows how to use the denomination’s tools to ensure that funds raised here will be used there as specified and that proper reporting is done on a regular basis.

What is our fundraising goal?
The EPC has shovel-ready architectural plans for a 20-bed maternity ward. Our goal is to raise $200,000 during 2017-2018 for the construction of the building, the equipment needed to outfit the maternity ward, and the training for the expanded medical team to staff it.

Why should we help fund for a maternity ward in Africa?
We have an opportunity to come alongside our family members in Ghana, so that they can serve their community for decades to come. How often do we learn of vetted Presbyterian ministries, that are functioning well and want to expand, where we can impact generations, all in the name of Jesus Christ? If that were not enough reason to support this project, imagine how this medical clinic and maternity ward can become a focus for future church mission trips, where you can come to build friendships with Christians in Ghana, help at the clinic, and become a advocate for those without a voice? Won't you join us in this partnership.

Presbytery Presentation

Representatives from First Presbyterian Church of Fairfield delivered the following PowerPoint presentation at the November 19, 2016 Presbytery meeting in Hartford, CT.

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