A DOCTOR has told of his harrowing experience of poverty in Ghana during a recent visit.

Liam Barrett, 25, from Darwen, said that families in the country lacked basic water supplies, while they had poor access to doctors and few toilets.

He has spoken out after he travelled to Edumfa, where he was involved in setting up mobile medical clinics, and Immuna, where he took part in a water project.

Mr Barrett, a junior doctor at Royal Blackburn and Burnley General hospitals who went on the trip with fellow doctors and nurses from East Lancashire Hospitals Trust, said: “We visited to try and break the poverty cycle and the water, public health and medical needs.

“Most people will have a supply to water but a lot don’t have in-house water.

“So it’s not local and you’ve got school children walking long distances for water in lakes and ponds.

“It’s quite harrowing to see people in the 21st century drinking out of lakes and ponds.

“Then there are public health issues with toilets. There is one toilet for a community of 600 people.

“The roads are also terrible and most people live in mud huts.”

Mr Barrett said the mobile medical clinics were set-up to help people with problems ranging from skin conditions to diarrhoea, malaria and dehydration.

He said: “We’d take the details of the people and then do standard checks such as blood pressure, heart and respiratory rates and then we handed these to a doctor.

“A lot of the conditions these people had were avoidable or easily treatable but they had no or limited access to doctors. Many had never seen one before, as there just isn’t a primary care system.

“There is a brain freeze when it comes to doctors in these rural communities.

Dr Barrett made the visit as part of the student-led movement for global health charity, Global Brigades’ project.

He is the director of the UK branch of Global Brigades charity, alongside almost finishing his first year as a junior doctor which has seen him work in the A&E, Gastroenterology and the breast service.

He was also a medical student at University of Birmingham, as well as doing BSc in emergency care where he worked at Salford Royal Hospital.

Dr Barrett has attended many brigades during his time as a medical student, including to Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama and his latest was the first ever UK healthcare professional brigade to Ghana.

As well as setting up mobile medical clinics, the team were involved with community health worker training and launched a Global Brigades water project in Immuna with their partners Lions Clubs International, a service club organisation that support a range of good causes and projects locally and globally.

He added: “At Global Brigades, we welcome people from all backgrounds to volunteer, fundraise and donate, so long as their drive meets the needs of the communities we work with.

“It’s such a rewarding project to be involved in.”

To find out more about Global Brigades, email liam.barrett@globalbrigades.org or visit the website https://www.globalbrigades.org/