When we think of technology, many of us think of Smart phones, computers, high-tech solutions to healthcare, transportation, food production, etc. We are continuously working towards and thinking of the next “big” breakthrough in these solutions as they become faster, better, and more efficient.
But what if we never had access to these types of technology even in their simplest form?
In Ghana, and specifically referring to my experience in Kpando, many technologies that have existed for decades and have proved to make many lives better, healthier, and more efficient are difficult access to or are completely inaccessible in this part of the world.
In a country on a continent that is in great need of growth and stability, the simplest form of technological solutions would provide great strides in advancement.
The foundation of development resides in education. Without education, people and communities cannot make informed decisions about their health, their children or their livelihoods.
Technology in education comes in many forms including: white boards to cut down on inhalation of chalk dust; projectors to facilitate another form of learning and provide interactive participation; and copiers to allow for students that cannot afford books to access the same reading materials and exercises. These examples may not seem “technological”, but they are-here in Kpando, these solutions are advanced.
When considering technology like computers and the internet, it is rare that children have access to either. While internet cafes and the like do exist here in Kpando, they cost money-money is prioritized to provide food and pay bills, not access the internet.
In this day and age, the internet is a necessity in many parts of the world- work would be inefficient, communication would be difficult, and people would (gasp) have to research answers to their questions in books and articles. The internet is a component of our modern day lives that I don’t believe any of us could go long without-we’ve become dependent, whether a good thing or a bad thing in this sense, the internet provides an opportunity to access communication and answers outside of our means, quickly.
This kind of opportunity would be extremely valuable here in Kpando. The internet could provide students the ability to research and answer questions they may have and teachers cannot answer; the ability to research schools and employment opportunities; the ability to invoke a thought process that I would consider, for lack of a better phrase, dream-building, as it enables individuals to access a world outside of themselves, outside of Kpando.
Health status is directly correlated to education level. The more educated people are, the better decisions they will make (or try to make) with regard to their health. Yet even if individuals make the best decisions they can possibly make with regard to their health, there may be times when they must access healthcare to help manage illness or address a health issue-a lack of technology at health facilities may affect their ability to get the care they need.
Technology in health and healthcare applies to: vitals (stethoscope, blood pressure cuffs, thermometers, etc.); diagnostic abilities (labs (malaria, HIV) and scans (X-ray, CAT, MRI), etc); surgical abilities (machines, tools, capability of staff); and record keeping.
With regard to maternal and c
hild health, better technology increases positive health outcomes. Accessing prenatal care and utilizing sonograms can help prepare medical staff for breech babies, complications, and birth defects. Especially in a developing country context, it is important to be able to determine possible complications of a pregnancy and delivery to be able to plan and better prepare for such circumstances.
Technologies that we would consider incomprehensible to practice medicine or provide healthcare without are not present here in Kpando. Poor health outcomes are directly associated with the lack of a healthcare facility’s ability to provide all services necessary in high-risk situations. Transporting an individual to a facility where such technologies exist is difficult, lengthy and can be, life-threatening.
Primary healthcare is not recognized as a part of regular healthcare here in Kpando. When hospitals and healthcare providers in general are utilized, by most, on an “emergency” basis only, this creates an extremely perilous situation.
Record keeping in the healthcare and social welfare sectors is extremely difficult here in Kpando-most records are hand recorded on paper. Such documents can be misplaced, poorly handled or lost.
An individual’s health history is found in these documents-if poorly handled, these individuals may not receive the care they need and may be treated improperly. In the social welfare context, if an individual’s family history is noted in these documents and these documents are lost or misplaced, an individual who is a victim of domestic abuse may not have the files necessary to prove a case in the court system.
Technology could aid in providing a better system to keep records of any kind. It would provide individuals the assurance they need to know that their history in the health and social welfare systems are in fact present, accessible and protected.
Finally, technology in farming and food production could greatly better the food insecurity and nutrition issues in Ghana.
Many people in all of Ghana, and specifically in Kpando, are subsistence farmers. While they are surviving, methods they use are not efficient and their production, many times, does not provide income.
The use of proper cultivation and correct methods of farming (plowing, spacing, use of fertilizer, ammonia, etc.) could increase food quality and production. After a successful harvest, the knowledge of proper preservation methods is important to decrease and eliminate post-harvest waste. The method of proper drying, bagging, and packing all contribute to successful preservation, increasing the amount of food in the home and increasing the possibility of potential sales/income. The accessibility and use of proper technologies aids in the farmers’ ability to do so.
Education on the use of technologies in farming could provide better harvests, increase food quality, and aid in the preservation of food. The increase of high-quality food production aids in the fight against food insecurity and provides economics stability to local farmers.
Without good food sources people cannot be healthy. When people are not healthy they do not attend school or work. When they do not complete school they miss out on education; when they miss work they cannot better themselves economically. When they are uneducated and economically unstable, they remain unhealthy. This is the cycle of poverty.
The lack of the simplest forms of technology contributes to the cycle of poverty. The technology exists; it is the same technology that other countries have been accessing for decades, yet is still not accessible here in Kpando. To me this is one of the purest forms of hardship-knowing something exists to better your life, your health, your community, yet also knowing you cannot access it.
This is what needs to change-the people of Kpando don’t need or want high-tech solutions, they need and want access to better technological solutions relevant to the quality of their daily lives, their education and their healthcare. They want access to dream-building, to opportunity.