WSU Helps Ghana Breathe Easier
On a fellowship visit, Audrey Forson will spend a week on campus with faculty and students learning practical applications she can take back to her home country and administer in daily practice at the hospital.
WSU graduate Robby Phelps instructs Forson
on using a portable, battery-operated nebulizer
during a 2012 trip to Ghana.
In addition to gaining knowledge in critical care procedures performed by respiratory therapists in the U.S., Forson will learn creative, non-invasive procedures that don’t require expensive medical equipment. “We’ll teach her breathing exercises and patient-positioning and airway-clearance techniques she can share with her staff,” said Lisa Trujillo, assistant professor of respiratory therapy. “The resources in Ghana are very limited, so we need to teach respiratory care on a basic level that includes public health outreach, such as showing mothers that cooking meals over solid fuel sources inside a closed hut is causing major damage to their lungs as well as their children’s.”
“Forson may not have access to resources like state-of-the-art respiratory equipment and ventilators, but she’ll learn how to cross train her nurses and community health workers in basic prevention and treatment including diet, exercise and environmental risks,” Trujillo said. “These are really bright people in a resource-poor country who know how to be inventive with what they have.”
“I’ve met 20-year-old men who have never smoked in their life, fighting to catch a breath,” Trujillo said. “Young children are at risk for chronic lung disease because they breathe in the toxic fumes of plastic when they burn computer wire to get to the valuable copper.”
“I hope my visit will encourage respiratory therapists in the U.S. to receive some of their training abroad,” Forson said. “They will learn how one can manage and educate patients with breathing difficulties in resource-poor settings.”
“Change takes a long time in Ghana,” Trujillo said. “The processes are slow, but education is the first step. Forson is a champion in her country and her visit will be one step closer to the people of Ghana taking cleaner, deeper breaths.”