A pair of EvergreenHealth Monroe Pharmacy interns have visited Ghana two summers in a row to help address chronic conditions prevalent among vulnerable communities.
What they found was startling. Marissa Norton said in 2016 she and Justin Fernando, along with nearly two dozen other University of Washington pharmacy students, saw about 900 patients in three days.
“From a health standpoint, high blood pressure really isn’t addressed,” she said. “These are in the lowest-income regions where they have little access to medical care at all because there aren’t even doctors in these regions.”
Inadequate access to services is coupled with the lack of resources that allow people experiencing an illness to travel to bigger communities, where the professionals are available, Norton said. It also explains why the students’ clinics were in such high demand, she said.
Norton said education was a key component of their efforts during both trips, but it became the main focus the second time around. The hope was to help create a self-sustaining system within the communities, Fernando said. This past summer intake was cut down to half as many as the year before, so students could spend more time with each patient.