Health News of Monday, 13 January 2014
We whinge about the weather, transport delays and the fact that the latest gadget ordered for Christmas failed to arrive on time; and we take basic comforts for granted, such as a bed to sleep on, forgetting that this is a privilege not enjoyed by millions around the world.
Indeed, during a visit to Ghana in 2010 to meet with policymakers and government officials on developing dialogue and providing support to improve mental health services in the West African country, the then chief executive of the South Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (SEPT), Professor Patrick Geoghegan, said he was distressed to see the lack of facilities that patients in mental hospitals were forced to endure.
He said upon his return: “Imagine trying to treat someone when there is not even such basic things such as a bed available for patients, it brings home how lucky we are at SEPT to be able to provide such high quality of care for those with mental illness or learning disabilities.”
Prof Geoghegan established a charity for the donation of goods – including surplus items from the NHS – and began fundraising to send the supplies to the Pantang Hospital in Accra, Ghana.
Three years on, the charity, helped by many volunteers in the shipping industry, is in the final stages of completing shipments of two 20ft and five 40ft containers to the hospital, laden with everything from a commode chair to basics such as gloves, towels, hygienic hand rubs, syringes, tissues, cannulas, drug trolleys, beds, chairs and medical journals.
The shipments have transformed the facilities at Pantang Hospital and, importantly, driven major progress in changing the attitude towards mental illness in Ghana, where custom dictates that the first port of call is generally the local witch doctor.
The charity has now completed its work, and the final 40ft container was loaded with supplies on 8 January and trucked to Tilbury Docks by Maritime Transport to await loading on a Grimaldi vessel to Tema.
Manchester-based Loksys Solutions supplied and attached a tracking device to the container’s doors that will not only provide extra security but will also monitor the movement of the container on land or sea by GPS and AIS communication.
For example, by logging into the client account set up by Loksys sales director Alex Plant for The Loadstar, we were able to follow the container from a warehouse near Southend in Essex, leaving at 2.35pm on January 8, to its arrival at Tilbury at 3.20pm the same day.
The container is now shown as stationary on the quay at the Grimaldi Terminal 4A Berth, where it awaits shipment on the Grande Buenos Aires scheduled to sail on January 16 and to arrive in Tema January 31, after calling at Antwerp in Europe and Cotonou and Lagos in West Africa.
Using the tracking reports received from the Loksys Trakalok smart unit The Loadstar will be publishing regular updates on the progress of the container on its journey to Accra.
Professor Geoghegan said: “The container of desperately needed equipment includes hospital beds, resuscitation machines and other vital medical products and will enable the hospital to establish its first mental health assessment unit.
“This is the first time something like this has been done, and it will make vast improvements for the patients who currently do not have access to such a unit and therefore it will make a real difference to their lives.
“As the founder of the charity, I cannot thank everyone enough for what they have done in supporting mental health services in Ghana – now a far better place than before the charity was set up.”