Ghana's First Respiratory Therapy Program Patterned After Weber State's
For the past 11 years, students from Weber State University’s respiratory therapy program have been visiting the West African country of Ghana to provide medical and community health education. But beginning this fall, professionals at the University of Ghana will begin teaching respiratory therapy courses to their own students.
“Ghana is a resource-poor country, and medical supplies and equipment are no exception,” said Lisa Trujillo, associate repiratory therapy professor and director of clinical education. “The Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Therapy is the first of its kind in Ghana and throughout Africa.”
In a country where asthma, emphysema and pulmonary disease are widespread, respiratory therapy training is badly needed. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the top two causes of death for Ghanaians are respiratory illnesses and malaria, each accounting for 9 percent of Ghanaian deaths.
Trujillo said her team has seen many patients and community members who are suffering from respiratory illnesses. “We have had many opportunities to intervene and provide support to patients by using the skills and devices that we bring with us,” she said. “Simply applying cool aerosol therapy to patients after removing their breathing tube has resulted in a significant decrease in the need to replace the breathing tubes in patients.”
Trujillo and Paul Eberle, respiratory therapy department chair, have worked with hospital and university staff in Ghana to develop a respiratory therapy curriculum that would best serve the country. The curriculum is heavily based on Weber State’s. Trujillo said she and her colleagues will continue to assist the program through mentoring and training, both in Ghana and at Weber State.