26 October, 2007
Global Citizenship Award: Marjorie Ratel
A Neuroscience staff nurse at Vancouver General Hospital (VGH) since 1978, Ms
Marjorie Ratel is a strong advocate for access to quality healthcare in developing
countries and is spearheading a project to help improve healthcare in West Africa.
She possesses a tenacious drive to improve the lot of others, and a natural aptitude
for inspiring key figures and organizations to support her vision.
For the past seven years, she has been working with colleagues in Vancouver
and at the University of Ghana's College of Health Sciences in Accra to improve
the skill base of the local Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital's (KBTH) neurosurgery
unit. The ultimate goal is to establish a Centre of Excellence in Neurosurgery
and Clinical Neurosciences that will provide high quality health service and
conduct contextually relevant teaching and research. Ms Ratel has been a driving
force in turning these ambitious aspirations into results and opening up
channels for a fruitful exchange of expertise between KBTH and VGH.
Collaboration with Ghana began when Ms Ratel met Dr. Thomas Dakurah, a young
neurosurgeon from Ghana taking advanced training at VGH. She learned of severe
shortages in medical and educational resources in his country, and became deeply
committed to assisting her Ghanaian counterparts. She founded the Korle-Bu Neuroscience
Project in 2000, and by the following year she and colleagues began organizing
the shipment of good-quality used medical equipment together with new medical
supplies to KBTH. Over the past six years, 11 containers have been shipped to
Ghana with an estimated value of more than $5 million.
In Vancouver, she established (and chairs) the non-profit Korle-Bu Neuroscience
Foundation, and two accompanying fundraising charities. A sister Board in Ghana
was also launched in 2002 under her leadership. Since then, she has been instrumental
in establishing teams in Los Angeles, New York and across Canada to help promote
the project and raise funds. The first phase of the neuro-hospital building
project will focus on the Ambulatory Care Center, an international house for
visiting professionals and a Nursing / Paramedical residence for local personnel
of the neuro-hospital.
The project has attracted the interest and support of key players including
the Vice President of Ghana, the Ministry of Health, the University of Ghana,
KBTH itself, the Canadian High Commission, academic bodies and major corporate
bodies. In 2003, Ms Ratel headed a team of Canadians and Ghanaians that met with
Ghana's Vice President, winning his support and gaining the project high profile
attention. A sisterhood Memorandum of Understanding has been signed by The Ghana
High Commissioner for Canada, the Consul General for Ghana and VGH.
Much of Ms Ratel's career has been spent providing clinical education to
other nurses, devising nursing policy, and developing standards of care. She is
respected as an expert nurse (in Geriatric care as well as Neuroscience),
compassionate caregiver and highly capable administrator. She has inspired key
UBC faculty to become involved in the work of the Foundation and in the exchange
of expertise. The university hosted and assisted a group of Ghanaian nurses who
traveled to Canada to receive specialized training at VGH in the care of
critically ill neurosurgery patients. These nurses returned home and are
transferring their acquired skills to colleagues in Ghana. Ms Ratel still finds
time to mentor students at UBC and to inspire in them a global perspective on
health. Since 2005, she has been a coach on the UBC Global Student Speakers'
Last year in Toronto, Ms Ratel, was presented with the Ghanaian-Canadian Achievement
Award for her efforts in improving the health care delivery to Ghanaians. She
gives much credit to her colleagues and partners who have rallied behind her
vision and mission to advocate for Africa.
Posted by: The Ghana Canada Association of BC at