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2014 The Gambia-Carey team
A proposal to obtain an interprofessional assessment of health, research and service need and collaborative opportunities for UMB in the Gambia
Led by Gregory B. Carey, PhD, School of Medicine
Students (school affiliation): Stefani Baca (social work), Kate Bulson (social work), Brian Chung (nursing)
Project and Interprofessional Outcomes:
The Gambia is challenged by limited resources and infrastructure. Any programmatic structure that offers knowledge exchange and the inflow of scarce resources is welcomed. On the Gambia side, we were highly impressed by how the Gambians leveraged resources to engage people and their communities to offer the best care that they can in a resource-challenged environment. For example the ratio of physicians and healthcare providers to the population is extremely low.
Culturally, people of the Gambia first seek advice from traditional healers and then act on the advice they receive from those healers. The government and healthcare system have worked hard to train community leaders and traditional healers to perform triage. The system has worked hard to legitimize at best, and to resist at worst, alienating the traditional healers. Trained community leaders and traditional healers feel empowered to pass patients on to the next level in the system (up to nurses then up to physicians as needed). This clever and culturally accepted mechanism ensures that resources are well-leveraged and utilized. Perhaps this model could be adopted in resource-challenged settings in the U.S.
We learned about the Gambia and its needs and how our resources could address those needs. We engaged in learning experiences, both cultural and academic with Gambian people whose experiences ranged from the gardeners taking care of the compound, to the hotel staff, bus drivers, college and university students and high ranking medical and academic officials. We were told by some that these were some of their first prolonged interactions with persons at the graduate and professor-levels across the health, medical, social work, nursing and law arenas.
Professor Carey has spoken about the project to UMB audiences to stimulate interest in conducting research in the Gambia. The team was able to make numerous professional contacts with faculty and practitioners on the ground in The Gambia and have set the stage for further collaboration in the future.
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