1. We would like to apply for MAITS small grants funding to assist volunteer faculty’s airfares to help with capacity building and to support the new speech and language therapy programme at the University of Ghana.  Speech and language therapists – once they complete their training - will make substantial and long lasting contributions to services for people with communication disabilities in Ghana.

    Who We Are:

    The team of SLTs (speech and language therapists) in Ghana are comprised of three Ghanaian speech and language therapists and an Australian speech and language therapist. The Ghanaian team all trained outside of Ghana and have returned home to build services and training in their home country.

    The team have a strong commitment to improving therapy and rehabilitation services for people with communication disability in Ghana. The team are working at the University of Ghana to develop in-country clinical training for speech and language therapists, as well as running the only regular government speech and language therapy service in the country.

    The Vision:

    1. High quality Ghanaian speech and language therapists working in every region of Ghana.
    2. More widely available and accessible services for people with a communication disability in the country.
    3. Speech and language therapists will have an understanding of local culture and context, and focus of prevention and training of others, as well as direct clinical services.

    How:

    The team are attempting to create a sustainable high-quality programme for speech and language therapy training in Ghana.

     To date the team at the University of Ghana has developed a curriculum for a Masters level training programme and joined with our audiology colleagues to form a professional association to ensure we can start to lobby the government to improve services and maintain standards. We currently have 12 students in speech and language therapy in their third semester (of four) in training. We will be graduating these students in August 2018 and will immediately increase the SLT workforce in Ghana by 200%.

    They team has established excellent collaboration with distinguished academics from a number of reputable institutions in South Africa, the United Kingdom and the USA and maintain good relations with them.  The programme has a strong focus on training others and public health. It is locally developed and operated, and has an emphasis on the quality and sustainability of teaching and learning.

    Why Support is Required:

    With only approximately 6 speech and language therapists in the country, for a population of 25 million, services are overwhelmed.

    Outside expertise is required to teach select specialist units and for clinical block placements, which we currently do not have capacity to run in country. Bringing in these outside faculty (ie from the US & UK) for short periods will allow capacity building with the Ghanaian faculty to ensure the programme is sustainable in the long term. Such visitors will come for periods of 3-4 weeks on average to team teach with local faculty, assist the local team to build a high quality research agenda and engage in public education in their areas of clinical specialty. Clinical supervisors will provide high level supervision and support for clinical placements in community settings. Training teachers and other workers will be one important component of the community clinical placements.

    Obtaining funding for these visits will allow us to source high quality visiting faculty, and ensure quality in the programme.

    Few SLT or communication disability human resources are available in country. Funding a new programme such as this is expensive, and whilst the University of Ghana have been keen to establish the programme, additional funds will be required to ensure we have access to relevant training equipment and expertise. Funding is sought from MAITS for subsidizing airfares for visiting volunteer faculty expenses

    Support Received So Far

    We have had three volunteer faculty from South Africa, Australia and the United Kingdom to assist with teaching and capacity building.  With significant assistance from the Direct Aid Project (DAP) via the Australian High Commission, a local women’s association and volunteer’s use of their own resources, we have been able to cater for local accommodation, travel costs, visas and airfares to make volunteers stay comfortable and worthwhile.    

    We are, however, expecting more volunteers in the fourth and final semester to assist with clinical supervision and teach other specialty subjects for this cohort.  This is where we would like to apply for MAITS small grants for three of our visiting volunteer faculty to supplement their airfares.    These volunteers will be clinical supervisors in community settings for periods of 3 weeks.

    Our Present Situation and Request

    We have previously been in touch with MAITS to explore funding options. We recently sent an enquiry, but at the time, no funding was available.  We have now obtained funding from other sources (DAP) to provide volunteers with reasonable accommodation, a small daily allowance and pay for limited travel insurance, medical costs and visas. 

    We would like to request that MAITS consider us for their small grant funding of £500 per volunteer to enable us support volunteers coming in the fourth (last) semester.  The provision of airfares funding is a crucial factor in the decision of people to volunteer. The cost of travel to our programme is often a significant barrier to the contribution by interested people.

    We are particularly interested in obtaining funding for the 3 clinical block placement volunteers in January 2018. Last semester we were only able to secure 2 volunteers, and both withdrew some weeks before the placements leaving us in a difficult position. Cost of travel was one of the issues that made it difficult to recruit stable volunteers.

    SLT volunteers will:

    • Train speech and language therapist students in community settings, to ensure they are competent in community settings with a wide range of children with communication disabilities.
    • Work with speech and language therapy students on how to promote training and capacity building in community settings, so that the students continue to focus on training of other workers as a key part of their role in Ghana once they begin practising.
    • Support speech and language therapy students to provide clinical services to children with communication disabilities in the community settings. Many of these children may not have previously had access to any form of speech and language therapy previously.

    We look forward to hearing from you shortly and hope that together we can make a long term sustainable difference to people with communication disability in Ghana.