Matching medicine to need at The King’s Village


Shelves of IHP donated medicineThe King’s Village is a settlement of medical and educational facilities set in 50 acres in the Tamale region of Ghana. Beginning with just a couple of buildings in 2003, the settlement has now grown to incorporate a range of public health, social care and educational services, serving many of its surrounding villages. Its healthcare facilities now deliver up to 100 babies a month, and offer all forms of surgery except orthopaedic surgery. 

Ben and Marion Owusu-Sekyere founded The King’s Village after living in Tamale for about a year. Marion came to Ghana from the UK for an outreach programme, and within two years she and Ben were married. In Tamale, they came across some derelict buildings at a project site left behind by Taylor Woodrow, and decided to renovate one to live in. From here, The King’s Village began.

IHP has been supplying medicines to The King’s Village for some time through our NGO partner, Inter Care, and in June 2019, our trustee Barbara Brese, a pharmacist and healthcare consultant, went to Ghana to conduct a mini-audit. She wanted to see how our medicines are being used and contributing to healthcare, and whether there are ways we can improve our services to this community.


Quality, needed medicines


The settlement’s medical dispensary has a four-strong team. “They work in a small air-conditioned room with a simple range of medicines covering drugs for hypertension, infectious diseases, communicable diseases and respiratory tract diseases, such as asthma,” explains Barbara. “They also had some syrups and inhalers for different conditions.”

Pharmacist Frank Kumi told Barbara that although the dispensary receives medicines from different donors, IHP’s medicines are especially valued, as their quality is higher than that of the average donation. “This is because of the long expiry dates and the fact that our medicines are needed, not medicines which aren’t needed and may never be used.

Ghana’s National Health Insurance Service in Ghana (NHIS) does not cover every type of medicine that patients need, including some basic medicines for the care of those who are mentally ill. These are classed as specialist medicines, and The King’s Village cannot always provide them. This means low-income families in need are often forced to go without. “Frank requested we supply as many generic and general medicines as possible,” says Barbara, “to enable The King’s Village to put critical resources toward procuring more expensive specialist medicines that are often inaccessible, but which the community needs.”


New hospital seeking new (or old) equipment


A new hospital is currently being constructedBarbara examined storage and warehousing conditions, disposal of expired drugs, and processes to manage the dispensary. She also went to see the building site for a new hospital, one that will enable the settlement to expand its maternity and children’s services, and increase its number of delivery suites, wards and operating theatres. Current facilities cater for 70-100 births per month, but a new hospital could offer a further 50% above this capacity, with extra services made possible through an increased number of inpatient beds. There are also plans for a much-needed unit specialising in men’s health.

The need for medicines and equipment is great: “They made a passionate request for anaesthetic machines, medical equipment, operating tools and medication to support their theatre services. They also need scanners (old and new) for the obstetrics unit.”


Pregnancy and infant nutrition


Abal with her daughter RhiannaBarbara also met Abal, who had come to The King’s Village three years ago when giving birth to her daughter Rhianna. “Without prompting, she mentioned the fact that the medicine she received from The King’s Village throughout her pregnancy and her daughter’s birth were of high and good value, and could be trusted.”

Malnutrition among babies and young children is above average in this region, so The King’s Village has set up a nutrition centre where little ones can live with their mother to receive care until they are well enough to return home. “This was an impressive but simple set-up for mothers and their babies, where they are re-educated and taught to reintroduce high nutritional but simple meals and diets to their families, to ensure their children receive the right meals to stay healthy. A couple of families had spent more than three months in the centre.”


A village thank-you


Ben and Marion took Barbara to visit Kushiebo, 10 miles away from The King’s Village, to see one of the communities it serves. This small village has some 50 people living in huts surrounding the chief’s hut, with very basic amenities. “It gave a vivid picture of the challenges healthcare providers face in caring for their communities,” Barbara says. “But despite a very basic existence, the chief of Kushiebo presented me with two dozen guinea fowl eggs to welcome me into their community.”

Ben and his newly appointed general manager, Daniel Damian, also called a meeting of six board members to meet Barbara to summarise the visit and get feedback. “This gave me the opportunity to express my gratitude... and acknowledge the extent of their work in Tamale. I promised to take back their story and ongoing needs to IHP to see how we can support them better in the future. Meeting Ben and Marion, it’s clear they want to share a strategic vision for the services they are providing and expanding on, to enable IHP and its partner, Inter Care to generate and channel funding and products (medicines and medical equipment) appropriately.”

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