“A Chinese proverb by Lao Tzu says, ‘A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.’ My four-year academic journey started in August 2014 at the Catholic University College of Ghana, Fiapre. The journey was both inspiring and challenging. My initial interest was to study nursing because of the nursing exposure my novitiate ministry offered”, says Sister Comfort Arthur.
The nursing program did not begin that year, so I enrolled in public health and little did I know that God was opening my eyes to see health care from a different and broader lens. My passion has always been to serve the people of God through health care ministry. My four-year studies equipped me to live out my passion to provide holistic health care to the people of God both within the walls of the hospital and through outreach in rural communities.
Public health is about taking health care to the doorsteps of the people, offering them primary health care services in terms of lifestyle practices, education and awareness to help people take charge of their own health. In my major as a health promotion education officer, I educate the general public on preventing illness or disease – at the outpatient department of the hospital, school health programs, outreach programs in rural areas, and talks on radio and television.
As a public health officer, we are the first contact or the gateway to health care for our patients . At the primary level, education and awareness about the importance of prevention will keep people out of the hospital, saving time and money.
Health care delivery is tackled at the grassroots level because you go to the people instead of waiting for them to become sick and come to your office. Holistic care looks at all the dimensions of health care. It is more than just mere physical health, exercise or nutrition – it is full integration of physical, mental and spiritual well-being.
I enjoyed being a woman religious – and a serious student – on campus: I was able to reach out to many people by sharing and listening to their stories. I joined in singing with the school choir, proclaimed as a lector, shared Christ’s body as a eucharistic minister, served on the Affiliated Fair Scientific Review Committee as a secretary, and was a member of the school’s Catholic Charismatic Renewal group.
The journey has not been easy. A balance of prayer, self-determination, planning and support from my Holy Cross sisters, family and friends brought me this far. It was challenging combining prayer, community programs and congregational responsibilities with school work, assignments, meetings and extra-curricular activities. My hard work paid off and I graduated first in my class (magna cum laude) and was honoured by the university to read the valedictory speech at the 2018 graduation.
The future is bright for all of us. We are put on good soil to grow, though sometimes our fears might deter us from achieving what we have set for ourselves. By the grace of God, I have realized my goals. May my experience prove to others that this is possible for them as well.