Doctor-less during Study Abroad in Ghana

As a foreign exchange student in Ghana, I had the unpleasant experience of being involved in a motorcycle accident. I sustained a fairly significant burn on my arm from the exhaust pipe. At the time of the accident I was frightened and felt very vulnerable. I was worried that failing to seek treatment could be ultimately detrimental, but I was also worried about actually trying to find medical help in a setting that was so unfamiliar to me.

I had so many questions – where do I go? Who can I trust? How do I know that I am receiving the best possible care? In the end, I was overwhelmed and decided to take care of the wound on my own. Unfortunately, I overestimated my own First Aid expertise and eventually signs of infection prompted me to turn to a Ghanaian friend of mine in search of a professional opinion.

I was incredibly lucky to have such a wonderful friend who took me immediately to an urgent care facility. Once there, I knew that I had made the right decision. The process was extremely quick and painless. I could not have asked for friendlier, more accommodating staff. My wound was properly cleaned and dressed and I received antibiotics that I recognized from the United States. We were finished within twenty minutes and my visit cost approximately $3.00.

At a time when I was feeling lost and hopeless in such an unfamiliar environment, having a friend who was a native made all the difference in the world. A resource that helps people find doctors, know how much one should expect to pay and what is required of the patient would be great for anyone who finds themselves in a similar situation.  Given the lack of such a resource, I don’t know what I would have done without my friend.

by Ashley Bellew

Do you have any stories about searching for healthcare while studying abroad?  Tell us about it in the comments or send me an email: