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CVM Students in Ghana, Africa
Journeying into the heart of West Africa, a team of second-year
veterinary students from the College of Veterinary Medicine, Texas
A&M University are helping to launch the Ghana Animal Welfare
Society (GHAWS) this summer in Accra, the capital city of
For six weeks, four students will assist local veterinarians in
setting up guidelines and standards that will ensure proper animal
care. They will educate the people of Ghana in developing a more
compassionate attitude toward animals and understanding the
important human health issues related to zoonotic diseases.
GHAWS began in January 2003 after Angela Williams, the principle
investigator for the project, spent three months in Ghana last
summer working with head veterinarian, Maj. Dr. Joseph Selorm
Tettey gaining valuable international experience and veterinary
While sharing her experience with others, Williams recruited her
co-investigators, Molly Jowell, Alexis Willingham and Krista Hardy.
Together this group will educate members of the Ghana community by
distributing materials that will serve to promote pertinent animal
"GHAWS is needed to end the cycle of animal abuse, neglect and
inadequate care in Ghana," Williams said. "As future veterinarians,
it is our obligation to address animal care issues and to begin
educating the public."
Ghana, located in West Africa, is primarily rural with more than
half of the 18.5 million inhabitants involved in agriculture. The
city of Accra is highly developed, yet lacks appropriate animal
care and control. Although the dominant language is English many
tribal dialects are spoken causing a significant barrier that GHAWS
"Developing effective ways to interact with the people of Ghana
will be the initial challenge for our team to overcome when we
arrive," Willingham said. "They will be unaware of what we are
doing but, hopefully once the word gets out in the city and
contacts are made with teachers and other veterinarians we will be
able to break the communication barrier."
In addition to educating the people of Ghana the team will also
lead the construction of an animal holding pen at the veterinary
hospital in Ghana and distribute donated veterinary supplies to
clinics in Accra. It is often very difficult for veterinarians in
Ghana to acquire basic supplies because of high cost and low
availability. GHAWS plans to collect veterinary supplies donated by
local veterinarians and distribute them to the clinics in
"Awareness of the issues facing Ghana is one of our major
goals," Jowell said. "In our studies we tend to focus on problems
pertinent to our country and as students we must realize that there
are veterinarians out there that need our help."
" Many professional veterinarians support the goals of GHAWS but
are unable to dedicate the time necessary to help set up the
organization," Williams commented. "It's amazing that a group of
students can go over there and make such a huge impact in such a
Assisting with the launch of the Ghana program, the Geraldine R.
Dodge Foundation awarded the team a Frontiers in Veterinary
Medicine fellowship in the amount of $6,500 because of the
project's potential to advance the humane treatment of animals.
Through their faculty mentor, Dr. Jeffrey MB Musser, Department of
Veterinary Pathobiology, the project is receiving financial support
from the USDA Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extensions
Service Challenge Grant, Global Veterinary Medicine and Foreign
Animal Diseases: Trade, Control, Careers.
The students are hopeful that the program will continue in the
future and that anyone interested in going abroad will have the
opportunity to go to Ghana.
"We are trying to build a framework for future work in Ghana,"
Hardy said. "Our efforts this summer with GHAWS will not end when
we leave, but will continue to help the society, the people, and
animals of Ghana."
Angela G. Clendenin
Director, Communications & Public Relations
Ofc - (979) 862-2675
Cell - (979) 739-5718
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