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UAB contributes veterinary medical supplies to Ghanaian university struggling with supply chain issues

A donation of much-needed veterinary medical supplies, provided by the University of Alabama at Birmingham, has been shared with a Ghanaian university as part of a UAB graduate’s Fulbright U.S. Scholar service project.

Dr. David McKenzie is on the faculty of Tuskegee University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, where he is a professor in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences and an adjunct professor of health education in the Department of Graduate Public Health. He earned a master’s degree in epidemiology and international health in 2004 and a Ph.D. in health education in 2012, now offered as the Ph.D. in health behavior, both from the UAB School of Public Health.

In 2010, McKenzie was invited to accompany a team to visit Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) School of Veterinary Medicine in Kumasi, Ghana, to evaluate its veterinary infrastructure and look for ways to collaborate. KNUST faculty visited the United States in 2011. KNUST and Tuskegee have collaborated ever since, exchanging faculty and staff and hosting graduate students.

Nearly 10 years later with KNUST in mind, McKenzie applied to the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program to teach. In November 2021, he was able to visit its campus as a Fulbright U.S. Scholar. His specialty is large animal internal medicine, including horses, cows, sheep, goats and pigs, encompassing all aspects of their medical well-being. He taught diagnostic and treatment techniques to students and some junior faculty.

While he was working in Ghana, his wife, Veronica McKenzie, reached out to UAB President Ray Watts’ office asking whether UAB could donate suture materials. KNUST needed current or expired suture materials for animal surgeries. COVID-19, plus the war in Ukraine, has affected the university’s supply lines. It usually receives supplies through European companies, and with the unfortunate events of the past few years, especially this year, those supplies have been drastically reduced. The veterinary college was looking for alternative sources of supplies, McKenzie said.

bigger ghana supplies
From left, Dr. Esther Amemor, head of the Department of Clinical Studies; Dr. Rejoice Nyarku, lecturer; Veronica McKenzie; Catherine McKenzie; Joseph Atawalna, vice dean of KNUST-SVM; Vitus Burimuah, head of the KNUST Department of Pathobiology; David McKenzie, Fulbright U. S. Scholar; and Raphael Folitse, foundational dean of the KNUST-SVM. (UAB)

Watts’ office connected with the UAB Office of Research, which was able to facilitate the donation. Watts gave kudos to “our wonderful folks” in the Animal Resources Program for collecting and packaging the supplies and facilitating the donation.

“Mrs. McKenzie was thrilled with how much we were able to share and said they would be extremely helpful for Dr. McKenzie and his colleagues in Kumasi,” Watts said. She and their daughter, Catherine, brought the supplies to Ghana in May.

UAB provided suture materials and basic surgical equipment for treatment and teaching, which was put to immediate use.

“These supplies were a great help,” McKenzie said. “We got supplies from other sources, including Tuskegee University. We had textbooks and other vet supplies from UAB, which were very much needed. We are so happy to have made this partnership with UAB, and I am hopeful we will be able to continue in some fashion.”

Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology is one of the leading universities in West Africa, teaching subjects from human and veterinary medicine to nursing, education and engineering to about 30,000 students. It is an important center for training scientists and technologists not only for Ghana, but for other African countries and parts of the world.

This story originally appeared on the UAB News website.