The OKB Hope Foundation provides essential healthcare to communities in Ghana through a solar-powered medical van, education, research, and more. The OKB Hope Foundation has helped over 4,000 people in 50 communities in Ghana, has trained 20 community members to use basic medical supplies, and spoken to over 3,000 high school students about mental health. Their work brings quality care directly to rural areas lacking resources to ensure that all people in Ghana have access to healthcare. Learn more about this CNN Heroes nominated organization here!
What is the story behind the OKB Hope Foundation?
I was born and raised in Ghana, and most people in my community had to travel far for access to healthcare. There was no guarantee that they could even see a healthcare provider or get help when they got there, so many gave up and didn’t even try. I lost my grandmother and auntie to these healthcare inequities— there were no healthcare providers to care for them. That experience drove me to start this as a way to bring healthcare to people’s doorsteps and expand access to quality medical care.
What kind of care does your van provide?
Our van operates like a doctor’s office. Patients get their vitals taken by a nurse before seeing a physician, who can run lab tests, provide a diagnosis, and give out medication. There are about nine tests that we can run from the lab, including Hepatitis B and C, STIs, Typhoid, urine analysis, and more. It’s a one-stop health center that is powered by solar so that we can travel to areas without electricity. We’re able to see up to 200 patients per day in our van, depending on the needs of the area.
What are some of the specific healthcare issues in Ghana that your programs address?
Most people in Ghana can’t leave their workplace and take time off to go to a healthcare center, because that means they are losing out on income that they need to feed their family. People are forced to make really difficult decisions, and their health suffers as a result. We bring healthcare to people directly so that they don’t have to travel and have guaranteed care. Since we only have one van, we are limited in our reach. We started the Know Your Health initiative which trains community members on how to use basic medical equipment like blood pressure machines— if they spot a problem, they can report it to us and we can come to the patient. It helps us be proactive and empower people in the community to care for one another.
Can you tell me about your work beyond physical health?
Education is a big part of our work. We survey communities and speak with local health centers to get an idea of what the population is suffering from, and then create educational materials catered to the area. We do a lot of preventive health and primary care education to prevent medical issues from arising. Once you get sick, it’s more difficult and expensive to treat. Our Mental Health Wellness program provides resources to try to end the stigma around mental health care in Ghana. Mental health challenges like depression and stress impact our physical health, so we want people to feel comfortable getting help.