An interdisciplinary team from the USC School of Pharmacy and the USC Institute for Global Health led a week long public health, leadership and soccer camp in Uganda for more than 1,000 young people in August.
The camp was presented in partnership with the nonprofit Ray United FC, which combines the power of education and soccer to enhance the health of kids and communities. Through community development programs and in partnership with local schools, Ray United FC brings kids together to promote healthy behaviors and strengthen global citizenship.
USC PharmD and Masters of Public Health students also visited four schools in Uganda’s northern Oyam district in collaboration with students from Makerere University. Together, they worked with elementary and high school children on infectious disease prevention, leadership, nutrition and gender equality.
“The impact has been more than amazing,” says Kim Ngan Tran, a third-year PharmD student. “Our daily soccer camps were a huge success. It helped build a level of trust and added to our success in educating these children.”
A Global Impact
Kim Ngan Tran, PharmD 2019 and Godfred Marfo, PharmD 2020 worked with Ruth Awosika, PharmD 2012, and Lily Fu, senior research and project manager in the Titus Family Department of Clinical Pharmacy, to raise $5,000 for the public health trip. Chipping in were School of Pharmacy faculty and students. “We’ve been able to donate school and soccer supplies, clean water, food and medication with the support of the USC family,” Fu says.
For Marfo, this was an opportunity to give back to the nation that fostered his passion for public health. “Growing up in Ghana, I witnessed cases of malaria, tuberculosis, diarrhea and HIV/AIDS, among many other diseases that are still prevalent in Africa today,” he says.
His experience includes working as a high school teacher with students from underserved communities and migrant homes who were blind to the conditions disproportionately affecting them. “This collaboration between USC School of Pharmacy and USC Institute of Global Health opened my eyes to the vast void in primary and preventative health care services that can be filled by pharmacists.”
Students were exposed to the public health system of Uganda through visits to the Infectious Diseases Institute and Uganda Cancer Institute. They also toured health clinics and met with the Ministry of Health.
The experience increased students’ knowledge about the significant health challenges facing Uganda, including HIV rates, infectious diseases, diabetes and hypertension in a region with only one pharmacist per 100,000 people.
“It’s important for our future pharmacists to get a taste of a different health system,” Fu says. “It shapes their outlook on the diseases that plague the world at large and increases their cultural competence.”
For more information about the program and upcoming camps, visit https://globalhealth.usc.edu/ugandaimmersion.