In June, 12 students and four faculty members from NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine and NYIT School of Health Professions traveled to Osiem, Ghana for medical outreach and service learning. NYITCOM student Justin Morris documented the experience throughout their time in Ghana. In addition to taking dozens of photographs, he produced the following video to show how the experience impacted him. Watch the video and read more about the trip below.
This is the sixth year the trip to Ghana has been offered by the Center for Global Health and the fifth year the team has worked with Hawa Memorial Saviour Hospital, where the group was based. The students worked with Ghanaian health professionals and met with more than 500 patients in various communities served by the hospital. The team also donated medical supplies to the hospital and the various community clinics, all the while learning how medicine is practiced in low resource communities. “We worked alongside their healthcare workers including doctors, physician assistants, nurses, and midwives who do incredible work with limited resources,” said Lillian Niwagaba, Ph.D., assistant professor and director of the Center for Global Health. This year’s trip included visits to more communities than ever before, including Subriso, Bonwire, and Kumasi.
During their day-to-day activities, the NYIT students conducted health screenings, including testing for high blood sugar and blood pressure, and took part in morning rounds with Ghanaian doctors, observing surgeries and deliveries. They even got to see the malaria parasite through a microscope and learned how to read an x-ray by holding it up to the sunlight. In addition to working with patients, the students taught school-age children about handwashing and other techniques to prevent disease.
Each community the group visited provided unique opportunities to learn about cultural, social, and economic determinants of health in Ghana. “This trip was a fantastic learning experience,” said NYITCOM student Hannah Delfavero. “I feel much more comfortable interacting with patients than I did before the trip, and I gained invaluable medical knowledge. I loved the daily interactions with the medical professionals at the clinics and hospitals. Their skill and teaching ability consistently amazed me. While the trip had its challenges, I have no doubt this experience will make me a better physician.”
In addition to the annual Ghana trip, the Center for Global Health offers programs in Haiti and Costa Rica, among a host of other countries. Students can also apply to travel to 25 additional countries through a collaboration with the Institute for International Medicine. Led by faculty members William Blazey, D.O. and Brookshield Laurent, D.O., this year's Haiti team conducted health screenings and exams at an orphanage, held community clinics, and served patients at the Haitian Christian Outreach hospital in Peredo. In Costa Rica, a student worked with the center's partners to combine his observation mission with an immersion in medical Spanish; another student interviewed local El Salvadoran immigrants about their health-seeking practices. The center also co-sponsored faculty member Reem Abu-Sbaih's, D.O., trip to Jordan to work with Syrian Refugees as a volunteer with Atlantic Humanitarian Relief (AHR). And Niwagaba notes that the center focuses on issues near and far. "The center encourages students to look at global health not only in underserved communities abroad but also at home, too," she says. "Global health is local health."