Biomedical Science Volunteers

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Recruiting Organization: Our Generation Voluntary Organisation

There is one country that comes to mind when one wants to volunteer in the area of laboratory and diagnostic research in Africa, the best destination for such undertaking is Ghana. Ghana is located in West Africa with a relatively peaceful environment and evenly distributed health facilities (hospitals, clinics, maternity clinics, laboratories and diagnostics centres amongst others) across the country. Most of these health facilities have laboratories or diagnostic centres within them to aid in reliable health delivery. In choosing to become a volunteer or intern in a laboratory in a community in Ghana one intend to use accurate measurement and empirical observations to learn about some of common tropical diseases such as malaria, anaemia, typhoid amongst others and means to help curb them. One will equally get to know how illness such as HIV/AIDs can be tackled using stigma-free interventions to reduce its spread. The lab is small to medium size and community-based dedicated to meet the needs of the clinicians and patients to provide diagnosis and treatment. The lab runs tests for a local hospital that offers services in General Medicine, Surgery, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, X-ray, Dermatology, Venereology, Ophthalmology, ECG, mother and child healthcare and ultrasound. For all these departments there is only one laboratory where all patients get sent to for tests, which means that there is an incredibly high workload.

The prevalence rate of some of these diseases especially malaria and anaemia is very high among the populace particularly pregnant women and children, hence the need for support. Malaria is a problem and there is a new case every day - testing in the laboratory focuses mainly on blood but also urine and faeces. When malaria is left undetected or untreated for a long time it can cause still birth in pregnant women and even death among the general populace. HIV testing is also common. The laboratory itself is a small space but it is always busy as it is much in demand, and the waiting area outside is often full of patients, young and old. Come and work in a laboratory or diagnostic centre in Ghana and gain an insight not only into local diseases and diagnosis but also to work alongside a dedicated as well as friendly local team.

Volunteering in a laboratory is not the most common project choice for those considering embarking upon a volunteering trip, however the experience is worthwhile since it gives one first-hand knowledge on the health related issues facing a particular sub region and how to help curb them. Considering the fact that volunteer work abroad in laboratories is relatively low, many laboratories go without volunteer support when it is, actually, an area that would benefit them greatly. For anyone with an interest in a laboratory placement, this project is a great place to start. The hospital values the addition of international volunteers to its team, as it strongly believes in cross-culture awareness and the building of global citizenship.

Volunteers will assist wherever is needed in the laboratory under guided protocols. Your role will vary depending on your experience, but you will work under the supervision of a local clinician. Activities may involve talking to patients, recording information, data entry into the computer system, running rapid diagnostic tests and also analysing laboratory results. You may also be put to work by collecting blood samples from patients, general diagnosis, learning new manual diagnostic techniques and data handling. Whether you have experience or not, is not important, as there are many tasks that you can get involved in and the work you do will be greatly appreciated by local staff.

Little to no particular skills is required to volunteer in a laboratory in Ghana, although any experience will certainly be beneficial to you. You must have a high interest or passion to volunteering in a laboratory, be enthusiastic and willing to take on any task that is given to you. The laboratory is a small place, and therefore it is essential that you work well with others and as part of a team. If you demonstrate excellent interpersonal skills and a good aptitude, you may be given the opportunity to help in other ways, but these decisions are always made by the local team.

Volunteers interested in tropical diseases, medical laboratory, microbiology, haematology and medical research will find this placement interestingly educative and anyone who is an expert or has proven skills in an area may be able to do extra tasks under supervision. You will be asked to send your CV/resume before being accepted onto this project.

Can I use this program as part of a college or university placement?

It is certainly possible to use one of OGVO’s programs as part of your university or college placement. Project staff can sign off any paperwork required by your course tutors. OGVO regularly receives medical, biomedical sciences, psychology and nursing placement students at our projects across Ghana and we have ties with some of the leading universities.

If you’re a course tutor and would like further information about how one of OGVO’s programs could meet the placement requirements for your degree course then please contact us directly.

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Fee Amount: None

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