I was so excited to be awarded The Catholic Bishops Conference Magnusson Award as I finally had an opportunity to pursue my passion and dream of transforming people’s lives in a practical way. I and my partner in the project, Irene Fosuhemaa Bossman, who is studying an MSc Diabetes Care and Management, felt incredibly special.
We used the award to improve the quality of lives of people living with diabetes and its chronic complications in the rural populace of my country, Ghana. It was an opportunity to reach out and give people the chance to live a fuller life, free of the complications of sight loss and amputations, and help improve their quality of life.
Diabetes is among the world’s biggest health emergencies. It’s an overwhelming problem in developing countries such as Ghana that don’t have the infrastructure or staff to deal with its management. Self-management is a cornerstone of diabetes care but, in Ghana, not only is around 71.4% of the adult population living with diabetes still undiagnosed, many people who have diabetes are not aware of the self-management practices that can improve their quality of life.
So, with our award, we set up the Common Good Project to engage with rural health services and help their staff set up a multidisciplinary team screening people, offering healthcare and running educational campaigns. We wanted to raise awareness of diabetes and its implications for eye health and foot ulceration and give health care staff the skills to assess and diagnose the conditions.
We ran clinics in the rural Jaman North and Ahafo Ano South districts and were overwhelmed by the number of people who showed up. We screened around 200 diabetes patients for the foot ulcers and dry-eye disease associated with the condition. Most of the people we screened were the family breadwinner. Maintaining the health of a breadwinner goes a long way in bettering the lives of families. So, the project’s impact is immeasurable.
With funding, the project’s future could be enormous. We hope that it can be rolled out more widely – even, in the long term, nationally.
Winning the award has been a life changing experience – for us and for the people we worked with in Ghana.