The other day at KATH I had the opportunity to shadow a woman in the microbiology lab (to my dismay I did not write down her name). She specialized in the vaginal biology sector of the lab, dealing with high vaginal and endocervical swabbing. She explained the layout of the lab and showed me the room where she obtained the samples, how she prepped the samples, where and which tests were done, what specifically to look for, and how to write up the results. I was allotted the opportunity to look at the samples through a microscope and discuss what I saw and their meanings. She was the first person whom I shadowed that had not only given opportunity for discussion but encouraged it.
The importance of this blog post is the discussion we had after we had exhausted discussing science and got to patient care. She talked about the social norms for women. When many women begin to notice they have an issue with their vagina, many tend to ignore it and continue to go along as normal, with home work and relations with their husband. It is not until the husband makes her come to the hospital that a woman will come and get treated.
Problems also arise from the familial lessons. After a girls first menstruation, they are taught to completely clean themselves. This actually clears out the normal bacteria in their vagina and makes them more susceptible to certain diseases. There is also a common thread to pass on home remedies through the family, so women use these home remedies before the hospital. These can aggravate the problem and cause the women more pain than before. I am not trying to make it seem as though these women are purposely doing sometime wrong, there is a lack of ability and feel of necessity when it comes to getting hospital treatment. When I asked her why so many women do not come, she explained that KATH was the only hospital in the northern region that does microbiology testing and money is also an issue. Also, the women believe home remedies will work and do not put their health first in the home, but instead the husbands pleasure.
She talked about the importance of sitting down with the women and talking/educating them about the importance of their health. This was also emphasized by one of our professors. He discussed that education was most likely going to come from grassroots movements, not governmental programs.
I have attached a couple articles concerning public health and home remedies in Ghana.