A new program from the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University is taking aim at the global healthcare system, epidemics, environmental issues, and inequities in the U.S. healthcare system. In short, it’s an ambitious agenda, one that the college is tackling through a new exchange program between FAMU students and students from the West African nation of Ghana.

This experience, which sees 11 students from Ghana coming to the FAMU campus and 3 FAMU students traveling to Ghana, will hopefully offer students from both sides the chance to get a better understanding of the best practices and systems that are in place in both nations, allowing them to bring back new ideas. 

“I want to learn as much as possible to be able to contribute to the health of every single person we have back at home,” Obed Amponsh, a Ghanaian exchange student, said in an interview with ABC affiliate 27 WTXL.

A fellow exchange student added, “Being here creates a lot of opportunities for us, to also be able to implement certain healthcare systems we see here in our county because there are a lot of things that we are struggling with.”

The exchange program is the first advanced pharmacy experience being offered by the college. The FAMU students will spend a month in Africa studying the differences in global healthcare systems. 

While many Americans still view Africa as behind the times in terms of health care, especially in the shadow of the most recent Ebola outbreak, there have been marked changes across much of the continent in recent decades.

Malaria infections, for instance, have been reduced by half since 2000, according to a study in the journal Nature that was co-authured by researchers from the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine at Tulane University.

Pharmacy, in particular, has been an important issue for many, lead by the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana. In a 2016 press release, a PSGH representatives said, “the role of pharmacists globally kept expanding, resulting in the improved health of many communities, adding that apart from pharmaceutical care, pharmacists showed daily care in providing the best health information, best medicine and took care of the medication needs of patients, amongst others.”

While there can be no doubt that the United States is a leader in the pharmaceutical industry — the U.S. employed 397,430 pharmacy technicians alone in 2015, FAMU students are just as excited about what they might learn on their travels.

Jasmin Godding, an FAMU Pharmacy student, said to WCTV, “It opens up your eyes to seeing the world in a different view. Also you can bring different ideas and different elements back to your hometown. Just communicate with other people differently and say, this is what I learned in the U.S. and this is what I learned in Ghana.”