Global Health

Global Health

After viewing the documentary, my eyes were opened to the situations and challenges faced by the patients and healthcare professionals in Ghana. I would argue that culture and healthcare are inseparable, and often time faith / traditional healers do play an important role in a community. Therefore, it is not surprising that many Ghanaian women would prefer to seek help from traditional healers instead of the unfamiliar modern-medical doctors. What saddens me is that so many of these women don’t receive timely, proper treatments, or are exploited by uncaring healthcare providers and self-proclaimed healers. Additionally, the problems and the intransparency of the Peace and Love hospital have raised doubts from multiple patients, and this only increases the fear and distrusts that many Ghanaian people have toward the Western medicine. So I believe that there are many challenges to be overcome in the healthcare industry of Ghana, and some of the strategies should include raising awareness among the Ghanaian communities, having more proper and specialized trainings for healthcare professionals, and reallocating more resources to breast cancer treatments and researches.

Furthermore, the video also illustrated the importance of cultural competency when working in the health care field. When working with people of different backgrounds and treating patients from different communities, it is important to be mindful of the cultural differences and be respectful. Often time we are so used to the “American” way to do things that we become unaware of other cultures and even become ignorant. I also believe that, instead of thinking: “I’m here to change and save these people”, a healthcare provider should be thinking: “I’m here to collaborate with them, to work toward providing better care”, because global health is not about one single savior-doctor, it is about collaboration and serving the people.


My questions for you are:

What are some of the ways that, as a student, you can contribute to the improvement of global health?


If you were a doctor in Ghana, what would you do to encourage more breast cancer patients to seek modern medical services?

7 thoughts on “Global Health

  1. I agree with Yun-Yu Liu. Culture is a very important aspect to many people in the Ghanian community. It is much more affordable to go see a traditional herbalist and a priest rather than a medical doctor. We as Americans have to realize that we have to respect and take insights of other cultures. Just because we see our way as correct in your eyes does not mean other people and cultures agree with this certain way. The ways that women are trying to prevent breast cancer in Africa is not the most effective way to do it. I believe they lack the understanding of modern medicine. Also, the perception of Western medicine have gotten worse among women in Africa because of Peace and Love. Through that organization, people have seen that even medical experts on breast cancers are not properly informed and trained about this. It seems that they are trying to make more profit by making people take medicine and do procedures that are definitely not needed.
    As a student here at the University of Michigan, things that we the students could do to improve global health is to raise awareness of the ongoing health care issues plaguing our world. Before the video, I was not cognizant of the fact that Breast Cancer was a huge issue in Ghana. With these videos and advertisements. I think it would help raise the awareness of these issues which would inform the general public that we need to do something to improve the health and health care of others. Another idea would be to bring an American Breast cancer expert from the United States to Ghana with the mindset of having their culture and beliefs with deference in their mind. I think that there needs to be more leadership in controlling the issues plaguing African countries like Ghana. There could be a transformation in people’s lives if there is a change in the traditional and corrupt practices today.

  2. What I found most ghastly was the fact that treatments that can be helping the women with breast cancer are often run by doctors who do not always keep their patients’ best interest in mind. These doctors are not on negatively influencing their patients’ health but also the Ghanians who chose not to employ western medicine based off the effects of malpractice.

  3. I agree that Ghanaians face a very difficult challenge by being confronted with solutions that they believe have been working due to decades of “success.” Because there are not as many safe and reliable doctors throughout the country, many people suggest the most convenient option in times of stress. When they don’t know what to do, they rely on what their “doctors” tell them just because of the title they have and not the genuine knowledge of medicine that everyone needs.

    If I were a doctor in Ghana, I would start to raise awareness of breast cancer by starting simple word of mouth advice. For example, if women either feel pain or a lump in their breast, they should be strongly advised to see a real doctor. Somehow, I would also have to convince people that traditional healers are not doctors, so they would be the last people that they will want to consult help from.

  4. Imagine a Ghanaian documentary showing: some American parents fuse to get their kids proper medication such as vaccination. Instead they to the churches for help because they believe if they pray hard enough, god will save the child.
    One of the causes of high death rate of breast cancer in Ghana was the interference from cultural believes and social pressure. This problem is not only limited to Ghana. The solution is fairly simple. Educating people to have an accurate understanding of the nature of the disease can greatly promote them to seek proper treatment.
    Another problem addressed in the documentary was the malpractice of the local doctors, whether intentional or not. In order to solve this problem, both the patients and the lawful supervision have to be educated basic pathology. For example, cancer is caused by mutation in the proto-oncogene, taking antibiotics doesn’t help at all.

  5. Along the lines of encouraging patients to seek the more modern medical procedures to treat breast cancer, I do not believe that is the job of the doctor; although, I do believe that it is the job of the doctor to hold themselves to the highest standards and not show the blatant negligence with patient care. After watching the documentary in class it was clear that even the “best” they had to offer was failing many of their patients, which should be their main concern not profits. It is hard to watch these people who put so much trust in these professionals get misdiagnosed, improperly treated, have to pay for a plethora of unnecessary drugs, and then when questioning why are ignored. I think that it would be monumentally hard to change the culture that has developed in Africa, and to truly convince them modern medicine is sound, but we can change how medicine is practiced there. If we are able to stop the blatant wrongdoings committed by the health professionals and clean up the image of modern medicine, then I think that would be enough to encourage more people to trust them.

  6. I find it so sad that things should turn out this way. The women of Ghana suffering from breast cancer would rather resort to traditional methods hoping that they would be miraculously cured than to rely on science and medicine. Perhaps to them, they are equally skeptical of western medicine as we are to their traditional healing methods, and that primarily is due to ignorance in the area. Therefore, the most important step to encourage more breast cancer patients to seek modern medical services is to spread knowledge. Medical personnel should use easy-to-understand language to explain to those with minimal medical background the pros of modern medical services as opposed to the cons of traditional methods. And they should do this primarily with individual cases of patients who had undergone both treatments and make a comparison between the outcomes. It would be more convincing if the specific cases were of people the community is familiar with, so it is more relatable. The information should be presented using lots of visual aids as that leaves a deeper impression than words do. With consistent efforts, patients should gradually begin to turn to medicine rather than to traditional healing methods that are more deceit than anything else.

  7. I strongly agree with what Yun-Yu said, that a health care provider should be able to put himself or herself into other people’s shoes and consider the cultural difference. It is actually very crucial for not only healthcare providers but everyone who involve in the community service field that they know what exactly the people they want to help need, what challenge they are facing, and what is the barrier that block this community from getting help. For the case in Ghana, I think the main problem is the overall economic wellbeing of this country, or even this area. With a large amount of poor population, the government itself does not have enough resource to either establish a real healthcare system or to popularize the concept of healthcare and the proper treatment of breast cancer. As this being said, people are lack of the common sense of seeking help from a real health professional. They do not understand how the modern medical treatment will help them, and since the local hospital does not do a very good job of manipulating its limited medical resources, the patients are even more hesitated to get in touch with the modern medical technology. Therefore, I believe it is very important to let people understand or at least know the benefit of receive modern medical treatment in order to improve this situation. To be specific, having recovered breast cancer patients to talk about their experience or playing the movies like what we watched in class would work. But the most important thing is always to establish connection and communicate in the way they could understand, so that people will be more willing to try new things.

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