During last night’s Associated Students Finance Board meeting, the campus chapter of the Global Medical Brigades requested $4625.02 from the board’s unallocated funds for medication to be distributed during the group’s first trip to Ghana.
The Global Medical Brigades is a transnational organization that promotes access to basic health needs in rural communities in Honduras, Panama and now Ghana. Each brigade disperses medical supplies to a village until replaced by the next brigade the following month.
This year’s UCSB dispatch will take place June 17 to 27 and focus on two different communities in Ghana’s Abuakwa region.
UCSB GMB Treasurer Paola Cardenas, a fourth-year biology major, said $2,000 of the student funds would supply malaria medication and the rest would finance other medication including painkillers, antibiotics and vitamins, while participants would personally cover all other travel costs.
“Everything comes out of our own pockets including airfare … this is a complete volunteer trip,” Cardenas said. “It’s not just a group of kids going on a vacation … It’s a group of kids going to help people [and] to make lives better.”
The 10-day trip includes medication distribution, patient consultation, door-to-door greetings and a public health day educating local communities about water filtration systems and the importance of sanitation.
GMB Vice President of Fundraising Steven Tilem, a fourth-year microbiology major, said the local chapter is being given the honor of representing the U.S. as one of the first groups involved in the new Ghana program.
“UCSB is one of the lucky few United States programs that has the opportunity to be a foundation for this new community,” Tilem said. “It is a great opportunity, and it is all based on the fact that we have a great reputation not only with excellent funding and support from our school and community, but because of the dedication of students and UCSB in general.”
GMB President Jamie Miller, a fourth-year biology major, said the club ultimately seeks to better the living standards in the Ghanaian communities.
“Our primary goal is to go to these communities that do not have adequate access to health care,” Miller said. “In Ghana, we will organize medications to distribute and go door-to-door to identify problems so that we can [ultimately] prevent them.”
The board fully funded the group in the amount of $4,625 with the stipulation that it host an A.S. awareness event.
According to Cardenas, all students can apply to participate in UCSB’s Global Medical Brigades. Last fall, 40 students were selected to go on the Ghana trip.
In addition, 15 local healthcare professionals traveled to Ghana, including UCSB faculty member and alumnus Dr. Jason Prystowsky.