Medical and Education Mission to Ghana
From 2008 to 2018, Dr. Elaine Bunick, M.D. and Dr. Adolph King, along with the support of our club, undertook the the challenge of organizing a medical, educational, and technological mission to make a difference in the lives and health of the village of Nkonya-Wurupong in the Volta Region, Ghana.
A regional health director in Ghana, a country in West Africa, designated the attempt by the Rotary clubs of Oak Ridge and Accra (Ghana’s capital) to renovate the Wurupong Health Center as a model project for Ghana. “It must not fail!” exclaimed Dr. Ogori Yaw Yeboah, head of the Volta Region Health Directorate.
The renovation of the health clinic, motivated by a partnership among Rotary clubs and Catholic churches in the Oak Ridge area and Ghana, was designed to help support 15 jobs and improve health care and medical education in an underserved rural part of Ghana.
The initiative to provide medical services to the poverty-stricken village of Nkonya-Wurupong in the Volta Region has been spearheaded by Elaine Bunick, M.D., a local endocrinologist and diabetes specialist. She is a member of the Rotary Club of Oak Ridge, which honored her with the William T. Sergeant Vocational Service Award, the club’s most prestigious award, for her efforts.
The medical mission started in 2008 as a result of Dr. Bunick’s connection with Father John Appiah, priest at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Oak Ridge, who was born in Nkonya-Wurupong. The priest had received a request from Bishop Gabriel Mante to help the village in Ghana. The mission was expanded in 2015 to the Ghana Medical, Education and Technology Mission co-led by medical mission coordinator Bunick and education mission coordinator Adolf King, a Rotarian in the same club who heads the International Education program at Roane State Community College.
In July of 2015 and 2016, the mission participants traveled to Ghana to provide services for the village. On April 1, 2016, the effort was boosted by a hard-to- get Global grant from The Rotary Foundation, one of the world’s most efficient charitable organizations.
The $96,000 grant was awarded to the Rotary Club of Oak Ridge in partnership with the Rotary Club of Accra “for the purpose of providing medical, educational and technical services, as well as renovations to the Wurupong Health Center, in order to bring the health center up to the regional standards for care,” Bunick said.
The most recent mission trip was done in 2018. Over the course of these three separate mission trips, 20,282 hours of service were provided, valued at $465,980 USD in economic value. Additionally, medications, medical supplies and equipment valued at over $1.5 Million US dollars were provided. The 2016 mission provided care to 1,671 adults and children and screened more than 300 individuals for eye problems, giving treatment to 145 of those screened. In 2017, the medical mission team gave medical care to 1,159 adults and children. Thankfully, upon returning in the second year, the number of documented malaria cases was reduced from 222 cases in the first year, to 117 cases in 2017. Additionally, in 2017, computer and vocational training were added to the services of the missions team. The 2018 mission provided medical care to 835 adults and 243 children, for a total of 1,078 individuals being seen.
“The Rotary Club of Oak Ridge thanks everyone who has donated money and equipment to and help with these missions,” Bunick said. “Special thanks go to the All Saints and St. Mary’s Catholic churches, who helped sponsor the first mission, as well as Remote Area Medical, Vine International, AmeriCares, Bausch & Lomb, Team Technologies, Methodist Medical Center of Oak Ridge and the generous doctors and Rotarians.”
As for the education and technology parts of the mission, Adolf King said that progress is being made in establishing computer and science labs at St. John Vianney Middle School, including providing electricity and Internet services to the classrooms.
For more information about the services and impact made by these missions, download the Global Grant summary presentation, prepared by Dr. Elaine Bunick.