Students team up to help fight Diabetes in Ghana

17 May 2017

Two students from Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) will travel to Ghana to support patients with diabetes and diabetic-related eye disease. 

Irene Fosuhemaa Bossman and Dr Bright Anyimah Oduro, both from Ghana, will work together to set up a team that delivers health promotional activities and offers ongoing support to patients in two rural Ghanaian districts.

The pair successfully secured funding from the Magnus Magnusson Awards, which was established in the name of the University’s late Chancellor, Magnus Magnusson KBE. Now in its 10th year, the annual awards support the ambitions and dreams of talented students and researchers at GCU.

The funding will go towards organising screening campaigns, developing educational materials, acquiring medical supplies, and educating patients and health care professionals operating in Ghana about diabetes and the management of the condition. The students will work with health staff and volunteers at local community hospitals to raise awareness of diabetes, help equip health care workers with foot assessment skills, and encourage a multi-disciplinary approach to the treatment and management of the condition and its related eye diseases.

Irene, a nurse, studying a postgraduate degree in Diabetes Care and Management, said: “Diabetes lifestyle education, foot assessment and eye screening are less emphasised during routine diabetes clinics in some parts of Ghana,” said Irene.  “The MSc programme at GCU has given me the skills to provide a simple foot assessment in diabetics to prevent foot ulcers and the unwanted consequence of amputation. I am keen to transfer the knowledge and skills I have learned to health care professionals involved in the direct care of diabetes in Ghana to improve patients' quality of life.”

She explained that the impact of diabetes in developing countries like Ghana was enormous, partly due to deficits in the healthcare system and the limited number of experts who give support to patients living with the long-term condition; thus, increasing morbidity, mortality and low quality of life due to vision loss and/or limb loss.

Dr Oduro, an optometrist, completing a postgraduate degree in Clinical Ophthalmology and Vision Research, emphasised that the loss of sight can adversely affect the quality of life of rural inhabitants.

He said: “It’s heart-wrenching to know the lack of timely intervention such as clinical diagnoses, healthcare advice, and knowledge can result in significant barriers for people.

“The effective management of ocular conditions using evidence-based optometry, coupled with diabetes experts, to deliver relevant solutions to contribute to the WHO’s vision of eliminating avoidable blindness by 2020.”

The team is optimistic that the project will reach more than 400 patients and many more health professionals to share key learnings. The two are set to travel to the rural districts in the Ashanti and Brong-Ahafo Regions of Ghana this summer.