Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine residents head to Ghana

A group from this region is traveling half way around the world to help those in need while also learning. Ten people from the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute are heading to Ghana, Africa on Wednesday.

It's a program that began in 2010 and a group makes the trip twice a year. "So many things have stuck with me about that place," said Dr. Jessica Top, a pediatric resident at Carilion Clinic. Dr. Top will make her second trip to Ghana this week.

The hardest part she says is seeing how sick people are. "What you see are people who have been sick for long periods of time and usually who have not been seen by a physician," Dr. Top said.

"I'm really looking foward to experiencing health care in Africa," said another pediatric resident, Dr. Daniel Cannone. He's been to El Salvador, but this will be his first trip to Ghana.

"There's a lot of attention givern to health care in the states the current state of health care in America," Dr. Cannone said. "It really makes you appreciate what we have here because you're going somewhere where they have nothing."

The students will help the sick at a rural site in Kasei, Ghana. That work will in turn help them learn about diseases they may not see often in the U.S. such as measles and malaria, but diseases they may one day have to treat.

"These diseases are a plane ride away," said Dr. Colleen Kraft, a Professor of Pediatrics at Virginia Tech Carilion Medical School. "Someone who's traveled from a place where measles is endemic can expose a child who has not been immunized and you can have outbreaks and we're seeing lot of that in places like California and Washington State."

The group also helps the people there as they work to improve their care.

The team from Roanoke is also conducting research as well.  V-T-C has a research agreement with the University of Cape Coast, according to Dr. Kraft.  A researcher from the VTC Research Institute is going on the trip to work with researchers in Ghana.