Korle-Bu Neuroscience Foundation (KBNF)

The Korle-Bu Neuroscience Foundation (KBNF) is a registered charity with a global reach focused on providing medical support for neurological injuries and disease to the people of Ghana and West Africa. Started in 2000, KBNF is a volunteer-based organization that has earned the support and respect of medical professionals, government officials and caring people from all over the world. KBNF has a strong focus on assisting the people of West Africa for the long-term through the development of a world-class hospital, performing neurological research and providing medical and specialist training to the doctors, nurses, biomedical engineers, etc. that will be working at the hospital.

Neurosurgeons, affiliated faculty and allied health professionals of the UBC Division of Neurosurgery have been instrumental in the inception and continued advancement of KBNF as showcased below. We hope that you will become a member of our thoughtful group of people – and help us change the world.

With the support of the Foundation for International Education in Neurological Surgery (FIENS), Dr. David Fairholm, a former member of the Division, was instrumental in obtaining a one year neurosurgical fellowship in 1999-2000 for Dr Thomas Dakurah, the first Ghanaian trained graduate of the Neurosurgery training program (1992) at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH). He promoted the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Vancouver General Hospital and KBTH, which occurred in 2001.

Then Head of the Division, Dr. Durity traveled to Ghana with members of the newly formed non profit Foundation in 2003, and again in 2004, providing training in intracranial and trans-sphenoidal pituitary gland surgery, with a final visit in 2010 with a joint team from the University of Toronto. He was a founding member of the Board of Directors of KBNF and vice-president of KBNF (2003-2010). As the first Chair of the KBNF Education Committee, recognizing the paucity of neurologists practising in Ghana, he unsuccessfully lobbied UBC, the Ministry of Education and the UBC Neurology program to get support for training of Ghanaian medical graduates. (International trainees would have to pay prohibitively expensive tuition fees for residency training). However he was successful in obtaining Neuropathology training (as an observership) for a Ghanaian pathologist at Vancouver General Hospital in 2011. That same year, he also secured the donation of a neurosurgical operating room table (bed) to the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital with the assistance of the BC Rotary Club. Over the years, he has provided many surgical tools and neurosurgical texts and tapes to the KBTH neurosurgeons. As a founding director of the Canada Revenue Agency registered charity “Excellence in Africa Neuroscience and Health-Canada”, he also presided over KBNF’s operating charity (2005-2009).

Dr. Redekop, traveled to Ghana with Dr Durity in October 2008, on a one week fact finding mission. They were particularly interested in exploring the possibility of having UBC medical students and residents doing electives in Ghana, as shown by the interest expressed by individuals visiting the KBNF website. He donated a complete set of pituitary gland surgical instruments to KBTH in 2011.

Dr. Woodhurst, a former member of the Division, using his woodworking skills, personally crated three operating microscopes for shipment to the KBTH neurosurgeons in 2009. Made operational by Vancouver Coastal Health biomechanical engineer Anders Engstrom, these microscopes started being used during the KBNF November 2009 Medical Mission.

Dr. Honey participated as a lecturer in August 2012 in the second KBNF Annual Neuroscience Days at KBTH and in the Second Medical Fiesta conference of the Ghana College of P+S, introducing Ghanaian and West  African physicians to functional neurosurgery in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease, movement disorders and intractable depression. He will be a member of the surgical team during the upcoming Medical Mission to Tapitta, Liberia, with other neurosurgeons from the Johns Hopkins Hospital (Baltimore, USA) and the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (Nigeria) in early April 2014.

Marjorie Ratel, RN BSN is presently the President KBNF / KBF, Project Chair and Chair Volunteer and Promotions. A neuroscience staff nurse at Vancouver General Hospital (VGH) since 1978, Marjorie Ratel is a strong advocate for access to quality health care in developing countries and is spearheading a project to help improve health care in West Africa. She possesses a tenacious drive to improve the lives of others and a natural aptitude for inspiring key figures and organizations to support her vision.

Ms. Ratel founded the Korle-Bu Neuroscience Project in 2000. By the following year, she and nursing colleagues, along with members of the Ghanaian community, began organizing the shipment of good-quality used medical equipment together with new medical supplies to Korle Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH). Over the past 14 years, 22 containers of
medical supplies, worth approximately $6 million, have been shipped to Ghana and Nigeria.

Ms. Ratel is currently leading an international volunteer team of devoted experts and consultants as they support infrastructure, education and research developments at the regional teaching hospital, KBTH, and the University of Ghana's College of Health Sciences in Accra, Ghana. The primary goal is to establish the regional Centre of Excellence in Neurosurgery and Clinical Neurosciences that will provide North American standard neuroscience health care, education and training, and research for West Africa. The establishment of a neuro rehabilitation center for central Ghana to serve the West African region is in concept development phase. Neurosurgery partnership with the University of Benin Teaching Hospital in Nigeria is fully engaged for over 5 years, and establishment of a neurosurgery service Liberia, in partnership with UBTH Neurosurgery Service is awaiting funding.

In Vancouver, she and her team established the non-profit Korle-Bu Neuroscience Foundation (KBNF) in 2003, followed by two accompanying Canadian fundraising charities in 2004 and 2005. A sister board in Ghana was also launched in 2002 inspired by her leadership. Since then, she has led innovative team expansion and partnerships across Canada and the U.S., to promote the project's vision, encourage members to join and fundraise. She has inspired key North American university faculties to become involved in the work of KBNF and provide their expertise. Ms. Ratel has been a driving force in turning these aspirations into sustainable results while developing the core foundation family. She also avidly supports the Ghana Prison Ministry and Shiashie Faith Presbyterian Church & School projects in East Legon, Ghana.

In 2006, Ms. Ratel was presented with the Ghanaian-Canadian Achievement Award for her efforts in improving
health care delivery to Ghanaians and is a permanent honorary member of the Ghana Canada Association of B.C. A graduate of Vancouver General Hospital and University of British Columbia nursing schools, much of Ms. Ratel's career has been spent providing clinical expertise and education, while devising and upgrading nursing policy, standards of care, and clinical pathway development. She is respected as an expert nurse in geriatric care as well as neuroscience, is a compassionate caregiver, and a highly capable administrator. Ms. Ratel is the 2009 recipient of the Norma Canlas Diamond Award for her dedication and excellence in life, leadership and core values. A coach for the UBC Global Student Speaker's Bureau, Ms. Ratel mentored international students for several years. In 2007, UBC Alumni honoured Ms. Ratel with the Global Citizenship Award. In 2013, the Governor General of Canada, David Johnston, honored Ms. Ratel for her leadership role in enhancing neurosurgery development in Ghana and West Africa.

Other local neurosurgeons who have supported KBNF financially or in kind include Dr Michael C. Boyd, Dr Peter A. GooderhamDr Charles S. Haw, Dr Richard C-W Chan (RCH) and Dr D. Douglas Cochrane (C&W HC), Dr. Thomas ZwimpferDr. Ryojo AkagamiDr. Ian Turnbull, DCornelius Matwijecky and  Dr Winston Gittens.