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Date: 05th February 2024

The Wellness Centre at Cocoa Clinic is on a sound trajectory to transform lives through healthy lifestyle choices. With preventable diseases such as hypertension and diabetes coming up in recent studies as some of the commonest health challenges of staff at Ghana Cocoa Board, its subsidiaries and divisions, Management set up a Wellness Centre at the Cocoa Clinic to improve Health and Wellbeing.

Since its establishment in 2019, the Wellness Centre has been at the forefront of promoting fitness, healthy eating habits and other good lifestyle choices as a preventive measure for various ailments.

Medical Manager at the Wellness Clinic, Dr. Riches Esiape says the establishment of the Wellness Centre has helped reduce patient traffic at the main clinic, giving patients quick access to urgent and various healthcare services. Recording average visits of fifteen (15) patients daily, medical staff at the Centre cater to the needs of staff and other walk-in clients from across the country.

Dr. Esiape says the Wellness Centre is open to everyone. However, it is ideal for all clients to go through the Records Office first, explain their reason for visiting the clinic so that, they can be appropriately registered and referred to the Centre.

The Centre screens for non-communicable diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and high cholesterol. Common cancers like breast, cervical and prostate cancers are also screened. Others include communicable diseases such as Tuberculosis, Hepatitis B & C, and HIV.

The following are some of the services at the Wellness Centre;

• Comprehensive Medical Examination: Pre-employment, Exit (post-employment), Annual medical examinations.

• Blood Sugar Test: This simple blood test measures your blood glucose level. It may be done before or after food but, preferably, in the morning, before food.

• Cholesterol test: Too much bad cholesterol, which is a type of fat present in the blood, could lead to heart disease or stroke. It is preferable to check it in the morning, before food.

• Blood pressure: High blood pressure is a risk factor for heart disease. This should be done at least once in a year or more frequently, as suggested by a Physician.

• Mammogram: Mammograms are X-rays that check for changes in the breasts that suggest the development of cancer. They are generally recommended for women above 40 years. In October every year, the Wellness Centre also offers free physical screening to the public for the detection of breast abnormalities.

• Cervical cancer screening: This is a physical exam done to check the cervix (entrance of the womb) for signs of disease. It is advised for all women between 21 and 64.

• Prostate Test: This is a blood screening test to check for early signs of prostate cancer. It is generally advised for men over 50 years. 

• HIV Test: The Centre runs an HIV Clinic in collaboration with the Kaneshie Polyclinic. The Wellness Centre counsels appropriately anyone who requires this test, conducts the test and liaises with Kaneshie Polyclinic for confirmation and treatment.

• Other tests include Kidney function, liver function, and thyroid function tests. Screening for colon cancer can also be done at the Wellness Centre.

Dr. Esiape says, the Centre’s focus on preventive healthcare, through education and screening, is critical, as it helps to lower overall healthcare cost. He advises that ‘an annual medical check should be on the calendar of every adult and calls on all COCOBOD staff to take advantage of the Wellness Centre to know their numbers, referring to blood pressure, sugar level, weight etc.

“For COCOBOD staff for instance, what we advise is a scheduled group annual medical examination. The biggest advantage we get from this is that we get a good and holistic picture of what their medical situation is; so we can do an analysis, give a report and help manage the medical conditions we may detect.”

Dr. Esiape says the objective of the Wellness Centre is to create an avenue to ensure that staff and the public can easily and quickly access the clinic to screen for such ailments to know their status; for early intervention is critical and saves lives. He further said, if persons are found to have these diseases, the centre offers counselling and refers them to the main clinic, either to General Physicians or Specialists, depending on the nature of the illness.

“For example, if high blood pressure or diabetes is detected, you will be referred to the General Physicians for management. If prostate issues are detected, you will be referred to the urologist. If we notice cervical changes, you will be referred to the gynaecologist. Even if you feel disturbed, stressed, unhappy and so on, to the extent that, it affects your work, you can come to the Wellness Centre. We have experienced professionals you can talk to but, if it requires specialist treatment, you will be referred to see the Mental Health Specialist.” 

According to the Deputy Nurse Manager, and Nurse-In-Charge at the Centre, Mrs. Felicia Ofosu-Dankyi, weekly educational programmes are scheduled at the Out-Patient Department of the Clinic to educate and counsel visitors on preventive healthcare. Such topics include Diabetes, Hypertension, Cervical Cancer, Lifestyles Changes etc.

“Our educational programmes are yielding encouraging results. For example, we do cervical screening in February, Breast Cancer screening in October and we get many women coming in. The educational programmes are bringing them in and they are taking their health more seriously,” Mrs Ofosu-Dankyi said.

On a monthly basis, the centre records about four (4) new cases of HIV, who are then referred to the Kaneshie Polyclinic for further management.

Mrs. Ofosu Dankyi disclosed that while infected persons receive their anti-retroviral medication from the Polyclinic, the Wellness Centre offers further support, especially, in frequent engagement through phone calls and counselling.

She said fear of stigmatization has made it difficult for many infected persons to seek regular health care but at the Wellness Centre, HIV patients are taken through counselling and supported to boost their confidence to seek regular health care.

“HIV infections are prevalent but educational programmes on preventive measures have gone down due to budget cuts from most of the funding organizations that used to offer support. Here at the Wellness Centre, we still continue with the education and guide infected persons to live a healthy physical and emotional lifestyle’’, he disclosed.

The Centre currently collaborates with the Kaneshie Polyclinic for some of its services but this is about to change. An expansion plan for services is underway.

The planned extension of services also includes common vaccines for travellers such as Measles and Yellow Fever, as well as, an Antiretroviral Therapy Clinic which is in the works to enable the Clinic to care for HIV patients fully.

The Centre recently started operating a Child Welfare Clinic in partnership with the Ghana Health Service through the Kaneshie Polyclinic.

The Wellness Centre is considered one of the successes of Cocoa Clinic as it celebrates its golden jubilee anniversary this year. 

The Ghana Cocoa Board on 24th October 1973 established the Cocoa Clinic to cater to the healthcare needs of staff and cocoa farmers across the country.

Over the years, the clinic has grown beyond its initial target and now offers essential services to the public through its six branches across the country. 

***Mrs. Felicia Ofosu-Dankyi has retired from active service since the interview was conducted. COCOBOD News wishes her a blissful retirement.***

Article by Rhoda Onyinah,
Public Affairs Department.

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