A fantastic opportunity to gain first-hand experience and insight into the Ghanaian health care system. Learn from local staff and get involved in supporting them.
Access to healthcare in Ghana has improved dramatically since the introduction of the National Health Insurance Act in 2003. However, the healthcare system in Ghana still faces a number of challenges, particularly in rural areas. The large majority of patients arrive due to illnesses related to poor sanitation. Malaria is also a huge issue and remains the cause of many deaths and illnesses. In addition, HIV/AIDS continues to harm the lives of so many Ghanaians. Many of the major causes of death and serious illness are avoidable. The work of the healthcare system in Ghana is not only to treat immediate cases but also educate the local communities in preventative measures.
We can organise placements from people of all backgrounds. So whether you’re a school leaver looking for work experience to boost your university application or a nursing / medical student organising an overseas elective placement, – we have just the project for you!
The main hospital that we support and work with in Ghana is Manhyia government hospital which is based in central Kumasi. The departments we can arrange placements in are:
We welcome school leavers and 1st year healthcare related undergraduate students, looking to gain invaluable experience.
Your role is largely observational. The hospitals are poorly resourced and under-staffed by UK standards, so you will have a very eye-opening experience. You will be placed in a number of different departments, so that you can receive a broad insight into the Ghanaian healthcare system.
The maximum recommended duration for a medical experience is 6 weeks. You are able to combine your healthcare programme with our other community based volunteering projects such as helping at the orphanage or teaching project, should you wish to get involved in multiple projects.
You will find the staff at the healthcare facilities appreciative of your support and positive towards information sharing. Over the course of your placement you will witness a range of cases that you may never come across in the UK, such as Typhoid, Polio and TB. There will also be the chance to learn about tropical diseases such as Malaria, Leishmaniasis and Dengue.
Whilst the hospital adopts modern forms of treatment, you will experience how cases are treated within an under-resourced and poorly staffed healthcare system and the challenges the staff face. Furthermore, cultural factors and a lack of education/health awareness will give you an insight into the alarmingly high number of preventable cases admitted each day. Many students also find fascinating to witness the dynamics of the doctor-patient relationship compared to that of the western world.
Can I use this program as part of a university or college placement?
It is certainly possible to use one of PMGY’s programmes as part of your university or college placement. Project staff can sign off any paperwork required by your course tutors. PMGY regularly receives medical, childcare, psychology and nursing placement students at our projects around the world and we have ties with some of the leading universities.
If you’re a course tutor and would like further information about how one of PMGY’s programmes could meet the placement requirements for your degree course then please contact us directly.
Is it safe to travel to PMGY destinations?
Although our volunteers work in the developing world, we always ensure our host locations are safe. Each programme has been extensively researched and has passed our strict vetting process. Our UK team undergo an extensive routine when establishing our in-country infrastructures and we continue to monitor our safety procedures on a regular basis. Furthermore, we monitor the stability of our volunteer destinations on a daily basis. Through our constant contact with consulates and embassies and our reports from our overseas teams, we are able to ensure that our volunteers are never placed in unstable regions.
The PMGY team have visited and participated in every programme we offer and verified them based on our own independent criteria. We carefully inspect every little detail of our set-up. From inspecting the living conditions, checking out the neighbourhoods you’ll be staying in, to tasting the food you’ll be eating – each and every programme we establish has gone through a lengthy and rigorous vetting process. Risk assessments have been written for all areas in which PMGY operate and our experienced local coordinators are always on-hand to manage any emergencies that may occur. Our UK team are always on the road reviewing our risk management procedures in the field and monitoring local conditions.
In emergency situations we have the necessary protocols and equipment in place and we are able to evacuate our volunteers from potential dangers. Our local coordinators are trained to deal with emergency circumstances.
When you join PMGY we will send you a Volunteer Handbook. This document addresses a range of issues such as health, safety, visa issues etc. Furthermore, our UK team are only ever a phone call away should you wish to discuss any aspect of your upcoming programme. When you arrive in-country, you’ll be given a comprehensive safety briefing during your orientation course by our local coordinators. We will go through everything from emergency procedures, how to use local transport and cultural differences. You’ll also be given the opportunity to purchase a local SIM card, something we strongly suggest, so you’re contactable at all times. We will provide you with a full list of the important contact numbers that you’ll need to know.
All our local teams are experienced development professionals who have years of experience in hosting international volunteers. They are our representatives on the ground and will assist you 24/7 throughout your stay. Whether you need to call home, travel at the weekend or require urgent assistance – they are there to support you.
While we cannot guarantee your volunteer experience to be 100% trouble free we have taken all the necessary precautions to make sure each programme is as safe as possible.
Your level of hands-on involvement is dependent on your experience, duration of programme and willingness to get involved. The doctors will assess your capabilities and assign responsibilities accordingly. Those with little or no medical experience will assume a largely observational role. If you are studying medically related degree, then you should have more opportunity to undertake some more basic hands-on involvement. However, please note we can never guarantee hands-on experience, as the decision ultimately lies with the medical staff.
As for all our volunteer programmes in Ghana, it is possible to combine multiple projects during your time with us. If this is something you’d like to do, then please apply for the main programme you’d like to take part in but also outline in your online application the details of the other projects you’d like to do. Our local team will finalise the details of your placements during your in-country orientation.
PMGY volunteers are based in a friendly neighbourhood of Ghana’s second city, Kumasi. The volunteer house is a 45-minute drive into Kumasi city centre, which is still dripping with Ashanti traditions and has some interesting sights.
Kumasi is still the heart of Ashanti country and the site of West Africa’s largest cultural centre, the palace of the Ashanti king. The city is surrounded by rolling green hills and has a vast and vibrant central market.
Close to the market is the city’s National Cultural Centre which encompasses a museum of Ashanti history and you can even try your hand at traditional dance and drumming classes!
KUMASI (KEJETIA) CENTRAL MARKET
One of the largest markets in West Africa with up to 11,000 stalls and four times as many people working there, this throbbing market is utterly captivating. Just 30 minutes from your PMGY base this chaotic and buzzing spot is a labyrinth of stalls selling everything you could ever want and quite a few things you didn’t! Definitely worth a visit.
BOABENG FIEMA MONKEY SANCTUARY
The people in Boabeng and Fiema consider the monkeys to be sacred and in the 70s actually came together to pass a law prohibiting causing harm to the monkeys. The sanctuary holds about 400 Colobus and Mona monkeys. They come into the village all the time to steal things, but as the people are not allowed to hurt them, they simply get away with it!
The guides at the sanctuary will take you on a tour of the rainforest and local village, where you will see monkeys everywhere. There is also a monkey cemetery in the forest, where the priests of the village have been buried alongside monkeys that have passed away.
A popular retreat for volunteers at the weekend looking to escape the hustle and bustle of Kumasi. The lakeside area has a range of decent, inexpensive hotels that you can go to for a night or two. You can take a boat trip, go swimming, or just chill out by the lake.
BEACHES & SURFING
Not far from Cape Coast you’ll find no shortage of great beaches such as Anomabo, Elimina and Busua.
And if you fancy your hand at surfing then Busua is a small, laid back coastal village with surfing at its heart. As surf destinations go, Busua really is a frontier town: it’s home to the only two surf shops in Ghana, and almost every one of the country’s surfers live in the village. Not that there are very many of them.
With gentle waves, warm water and an absence of sharks, the beach is an alluring proposition for anyone looking to learn to surf in a tropical destination off the usual circuit. It is perfect for beginner to intermediate surfers, but the more experienced can make easy trips along the coast to find more challenging and potentially unridden waves.
KAKUM NATIONAL PARK
From Cape Coast, it is highly advised that you take a day-trip to Kakum National Park.
All volunteers must arrive into Accra on the Sunday. You should book your flights into Kotoka International Airport in Accra (airport code ACC). The airport pickup is available 24 hours. Please note that if you arrive before the set Sunday start date then you are responsible for arranging your accommodation and time in Ghana until we collect you on the Sunday.
A member of our local team will be waiting for you when you arrive at the airport holding a Plan My Gap Year sign. You will be taken straight to our partner hostel near the airport. The journey will take around 20 minutes and will allow you to gather your first glimpses of this amazing country.
The rest of the day is yours to spend relaxing and getting to know your fellow volunteers. Meals on the Sunday arrival date are NOT included, so please budget between £5 to £10 for this.
Your first night in Ghana will be spent at a hotel near to Kotoka International Airport in Accra. Our partner hotel offers basic but comfortable accommodation. You will share a room with fellow volunteers. Rooms are fanned and have mosquito nets. A member of the PMGY Ghana team will also stay at the hotel to ensure you have 24/7 support. Our staff will travel with you to Kumasi the following day.
Volunteers will stay at the PMGY Volunteer House in Kumasi. The property is located in a friendly neighbourhood, which is around a 45-minute drive to Kumasi city centre. The house is gated and secure and our local coordinators live on-site. You will share a room with fellow volunteers – bunk-bed accommodation and a fan is provided. Volunteers have their own separate bathroom, which has a western toilet and cold-water shower – it’s hot all year round in Ghana so cold water showers are a perfect cool down after a hot day!. The house also has Wi-Fi although it is intermittent.
The house has a lounge, TV and DVD player where you can hangout in the evenings. There is also an outside seating area. Volunteers are welcome to use the kitchen to prepare meals or even help out when meals are being prepared. We also have a refrigerator where you can store your personal food items but please remember this is dependent on electricity and power cuts can be a frequent occurrence in Ghana!.
The house is basic but comfortable. Clothes can be hand-washed or you request a local maid to wash them for you, the typical cost is around £2 per load of washing. Living in the PMGY Volunteer House offers a great social experience. Volunteers are given their own privacy and locks to their rooms, so it is a very laid-back atmosphere.
The local area has a number of small shops. The nearest ATM, internet café, larger shops and bars are about a 10 to 15 minute walk from the house. The local community are extremely friendly. As soon as you step out of the house you’ll be greeted by smiling children! Just one of the amazing experiences you’ll have with PMGY in Ghana.
Please note that in the summer months we do use extra accommodation to cope with the extra number of volunteers when the main volunteer house reaches capacity. Such accommodation is again basic but comfortable with a western bathroom and located a short distance away from the main volunteer house. You will be sure to mix with volunteers as a whole at projects as well!
Please note that power cuts and water shortages are very common in Ghana. Whilst we have backup measures to combat this, there maybe times where the power cuts out or there is no water for a while so its important to be aware of this in advance.
Volunteers will be provided with breakfast, lunch and dinner everyday during their time with PMGY. Breakfast and dinner are served at the Volunteer House, whereas for lunch we may provide you with a packed lunch or the project may provide you with lunch.
Most meals are local foods such as rice, eggs, stews, vegetables, Ghanaian dishes, meats, breads, and more. A usual breakfast consists of toast and tea/coffee. Lunch is usually a rice based Ghanaian dish. Dinner will consist of a more wholesome meal, usually noodles, typically made of starchy foods such as rice, yams or ugali – sometimes served with meats such as fish, chicken or goat. Here is an idea of some of the most common meals in Ghana:
Fufu – Cassava, yams and plantains are boiled, pounded and rolled into balls known as fufu. These are often served in a soup or stew, or with palm oil/groundnut sauce.
Red Red – Black-eyed peas that are stewed with spices, tomatoes, peppers, onions, and red palm oil. The red palm oil saturates the dish giving it a red hue, hence the name.
Jollof Rice – Tomato flavoured rice, spiced (with a little yoghurt in the middle) and served with meat or fish.
There are a number of western restaurants near to the accommodation should you fancy picking up some home comforts. Pizza, burgers, chicken and chips etc are available for around £5, however this depends on the quality of place you go to. There are also some Chinese and Indian restaurants in Kumasi. Our local team will tell you all about the options available to you during your in-country orientation.
Please note most meals will incorporate lots of carbs and not so much dairy or meat compared to the UK so please be open minded around this! It may take you a few days for your body to accustom to the local food as well.
* Please inform us in your application if you have any dietary requirements. Furthermore, meals on the Sunday arrival date are NOT included, so please budget between £5 to £10 for this.