This past summer, Dr. Munch and several students had the opportunity to go on a study abroad trip to Ghana to take Biology 344. Along with this being a class, it was an experience for these students. They were able to help search for the sources of several diseases that have been affecting the people’s health drastically. The three main objectives to going on this trip were to improve Healthcare, economic wealth-fare, and the educational infrastructure.
During Wednesday’s class, we discussed the difficulties that millions of Ghanaians deal with on a daily basis and the perspectives that people have regarding Medical Voluntourism. Dr. Munch and Professor Kennison came in to serve as a source for our curiosity and interest in these topics.
From the group discussion that my group had with Dr. Munch, I learned that children are drinking unfiltered and contaminated water because water distribution pipes are either overdue for sanitary purposes or because they are residing near a body of water where everyone utilizes it to defecate, urinate, bathe and so forth. I’ve also learned that these issues lead to children having cognitive mental delays which affect their capacity of receiving the education that they need to move forward in life in order to become successful. The children are also only going to school until 11, which is about 5th or 6th grade in the U.S. There are diseases that haven’t been cured or treated for because medical researchers have yet to find out where the disease is coming from.
The list goes on about the issues that exist in Ghana and other developing countries. What carved our interest as a class was, the solutions to these life-threatening issues, especially in regard to medical voluntourism. What is the true purpose to students going to Ghana? (Vacation, the course, to actually help or to add something onto their resumes for medical school) If millions of people are dying of underlying diseases and suffering due to their economic instability, educational system, and their environment, what are a group of college students doing for those people?
Well, we received most answers. Dr. Munch was very understanding and served as a great source because regardless of what the question was, she has about 8-14 years of experience of doing things like this. So she knows that people have different perspectives on medical voluntourism. Her answers were that many students do it for helping as much as they can alongside with it looking impressive on their resume. “Many students come back a changed person because they begin to appreciate what they have in the U.S. and end up engaging in opportunities like these in the future.” (Dr. Munch)
The solutions that come from the SUNY Geneseo Ghana trip, Biology 344 were, doing research for diseases by collecting urine samples, donating to impoverished communities, feeding children, and communicating with those who have authority over villages that are suffering from life-threatening diseases; students aided many people in Ghana, especially the children.
So in a way, regardless of this being something just to impress someone in the admission’s office at a pretentious medical school or not, the students still did the work in order to help with the resources and knowledge that they have.