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Ms. Lawrencia Aggrey-Bluwey is a trained nurse whose desire has always been to impact more lives other than being a clinical bedside nurse. It was for this reason that she decided to upgrade herself academically and go into Conventional and Alternative Medicine. It is an area of medicine which seems at the infant stage in the country. Therefore, driven by the passion to change the narrative, Ms. Lawrencia Aggrey-Bluwey is already making inroads in the health policy sector as she wants the nursing profession in the country to be at par with others internationally and to reassure the public that there are still good nurses in Ghana who can be trusted for their services.

At age 30, Ms. Aggrey-Bluwey had already practiced as a professional nurse for almost 10 years in the public and private sectors and has climbed the academic ladder. She is the youngest person pursuing Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Health Policy and Management at the University of Ghana Business School. According to her “the only way to build a formidable health system is to fully equip the incoming generation of healthcare professionals with the necessary knowledge, skills and attitude to function effectively both within and outside the clinical setting.” As an academic and researcher, she has interests in Health Policy (Conventional and Alternative Healthcare), Healthcare Governance, Nursing Advocacy, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Health Education.

Ms. Aggrey-Bluwey who is on the verge of bagging a Doctorate Degree (PhD) told The Mirror that health policy for both Conventional and Alternative Medicine was the discipline which set the foundation for providing the best level of healthcare. Throwing more light on her speciality, she said complementary and alternative medicine was a branch of medicine and healthcare delivery (other than conventional medicine) which made use of relatively natural therapies in promoting and maintaining health, and also in curing diseases.

“These therapies primarily aim at boosting the body’s natural defences from a holistic point of view: the biological, psychological and social components of the body’s defences: in an attempt to prevent the disease from occurring in the first place.”

Inspiration
Touching on her inspiration she said she was inspired to go into complementary and alternative medicine because she had come to like that branch of medicine which was being highly underutilized, especially within the formal sector of healthcare. In other jurisdictions such as China, India and even in the United States, complementary and alternative medicine is highly regulated, highly standardized, and utilized within the appropriate parameters, and due to that better patient health outcomes are realized.”

Citing an example, she said with COVID-19, for instance, countries such as China and India better managed the pandemic due to the integrative nature of their health system where conventional and alternative medicine is utilized on the same scale as conventional medicine. “In Ghana, our conventional medicine industry is highly under-regulated. Government’s attempts to integrate certain aspects of conventional medicine into our formal healthcare sector have yielded less than optimal results.” Apart from herbal medicine, other components of complementary and alternative medicine such as Naturopathy, Yoga, Acupuncture and Aryuvedic have no major accredited institution which is training such professionals using scientific methods: not until the Nyarkotey College of Holistic Medicine, which is in the process of receiving national accreditation was instituted. However, you’ll realize that a large majority of Ghanaians resort to complementary and alternative methods of healthcare from practitioners who have received little or no formal training,” she stated.

She said even though traditional medicine practitioners had some form of relationship with the Traditional Medicine Council, a lot of them were trained through the apprenticeship system, which has little or no scientific basis. “Investing in complementary and alternative medicine will serve as a huge avenue for medical tourism in Ghana, and this can serve as a source of revenue, since complementary and alternative medicine is receiving worldwide attention from major stakeholders such as the World Naturopathic Federation and even the World Health Organization.”

Lecturing
The health policy advocate who is also an Assistant Lecturer at the University of Education, Winneba, said there were numerous inconsistencies, especially with the implementation stages of our health policies in our part of the world hence her passion to delve into the policy circles and make a significant impact. “I have always wanted to help health workers acquire top-notch clinical and administrative skills so that they could deliver excellent healthcare and eventually, make Ghana’s health system a formidable one,” she said.

For this reason, she took up and completed Postgraduate Diploma in Education at the University of Education, Winneba in 2015 and went ahead to obtain a Master of Philosophy Degree (MPhil) in Health Services Management at the University of Ghana Business School in 2017.

Ms. Aggrey-Bluwey began her tutoring journey at the Wisconsin International University College at Haatso, Accra, where she handled Health Management courses at the School of Nursing and supervised both nursing and midwifery students. As an Assistant Lecturer at the University of Education, Winneba, she teaches Health Administrators and Educators, and has additional skills in classroom and curriculum management, teaching, supervision, data collection and data analysis.

Nursing
After successfully passing the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE), she gained admission to pursue a Bachelor of Science Degree (BSc) in Nursing at the University of Ghana Nursing School. The decision to pursue nursing, according to her, was driven by “the passion to help people in pain and the need to impact the lives of many who need help within the healthcare setting.” After certification as a Registered General Nurse (RGN), she began her career as a Rotation Nurse at the Achimota Hospital in Accra. She also served at other facilities, including the Police Hospital, C&J Medicare Hospital at Sakumono, and the Shai-Osudoku District Hospital at Dodowa, where she spent the greater part of her working years in Clinical Nursing practice.

Background
Ms. Aggrey-Bluwey comes from Kpando Gadza in the Volta Region. She was born to two Civil Servants; Dr Francis Aggrey-Bluwey (deceased) and Superintendent Cecilia Aggrey-Bluwey. She had her primary and secondary education at Asuofia D/A Junior High School, Kumasi, in the Ashanti Region, Archbishop Porter Girls’ Secondary School (APGSS) at Fijai, near Takoradi, in the Western Region. She studied General Science.In spite of the challenges of juggling professional and family roles, she believes that it is “important for women to develop their intellectual and professional capacity in order to improve the society in which we live.”

She said social barriers should not limit young girls from achieving their dreams, and that they should identify a mentor, be ready to learn, imbibe the word of God and have the determination to succeed in all endeavours.

Credit: Hadiza Quansah

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