Two recent pharmacy graduates of Philadelphia College of Pharmacy at University of the Sciences had the opportunity to travel abroad and share their expertise with health professionals in Kenya – an area where medical and pharmaceutical services are limited.
Alumnus Cornelius (Neil) D. Pitts P’73, PharmD’04, frequently travels to Kenya to help his peers overseas develop and provide medical and pharmaceutical services in underserved areas. Recent graduates Laney Jones PharmD'14 and Carl Gerdine PharmD'14 joined Dr. Pitts and alumnus Leo Ross PharmD'73, as they traveled to Nairobi during their off-rotation period in the spring to work with other pharmacists at St. Mary's Missionary Hospital and Kenyatta University.
Dr. Pitts said they went into the trip with three objectives in mind: Learn about Kenya’s healthcare system, perform volunteer service at medical camps, and connect with pharmacy students at Kenyatta University. All three objectives were met, he said.
“The dedication of Laney and Carl to careers of service, demonstrates the diverse interests of pharmacy students in exploring careers beyond traditional pharmacy practice,” Dr. Pitts said.
The combination of service and learning opportunities were coordinated through a joint effort by Dr. Pitts and Dr. Titus Kahiga, professor and chief of pharmacology at Kenyatta University. Through this partnership, Jones and Gerdine were able to visit several Kenyan agencies, including the Kenyan Medical Supply Agency, Pharmaceutical Society of Kenya (APhA equivalent), Kenyan Pharmacy and Poisons Board (FDA equivalent), and the Kenya Medical Research Institute.
During their time in Kenya, alumni and recent grads had the opportunity to:
- Hold a medical clinic for more than 280 children at Huruma Children’s Home in Ngong Hills, Kenya
- Visit GlaxoSmithKline to tour the facilities and chat with the director of medical and regulatory affairs
- Provide healthcare services to underserved individuals at hospitals and orphanages
While visiting GlaxoSmithKline, the USciences team learned about drug distribution and research in Kenya, as well as counterfeit medications in developing countries. They also sat in on patient clinic visits and surgeries at St. Mary's, and participated in clinical rounds to help meet the needs of the underserved population. Lastly, the team delivered hands-on healthcare to children at the orphanage through pediatric blood pressure screenings, direct administration of medications, and deworming - a routine treatment made necessary by the ingestion of unclean water.
"Although many orphanages are served by mission organizations and other volunteer groups, seldom do pharmacists accompany these teams," said Dr. Pitts. "The outreach of this Philadelphia connection, played an essential role by managing and dispensing medication while others diagnosed and prescribed."
Dr. Jones will be attending Columbia University School of Public Health this fall, and Dr. Gerdine recently began a clinical pharmacy residency at Paoli Hospital (Mainline Health).