Medical students from the John A. Burns School of Medicine traveled more than 2,500 miles to help fight tuberculosis (TB) in Ebeye, the most populated island of Kwajalein Atoll, and one of three “hotspots” for tuberculosis in the Pacific region identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The massive TB screening program was launched last year with registration and record collection. After the data was collected, the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa medical students spent three weeks screening some 5,600 residents of Ebeye—the Marshall Islands’ largest-ever effort ever to eradicate the disease. TB is a bacterial infection that can be fatal. It most often attacks the lungs and can be spread through coughs, but it can also harm other organs.
Medical students Nash Witten and Yusuke Kobayashi were joined by their faculty advisor, Seiji Yamada of the JABSOM Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, along with teams of RMI health workers, regional Pacific TB staff, international volunteers and representatives from the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization.
“The members of our team, like us, were volunteers. They were from Australia, India, Palau, RMI and the states of Nevada, Tennessee, Arkansas and Washington,” said Witten, who graduated from medical school this month. “The team consisted of four physicians, one TB nurse, two TB program coordinators, an x-ray technician from Lanakila Health Center, and the two of us University of Hawaiʻi students.”
Funding for the John A. Burns School of Medicine students’ travel to the Marshall Islands came from the medical school’s Hawaiʻi Pacific Basin Area Health Education Center, which supports efforts to train future healthcare workers for Hawaiʻi and the Pacific.
For more, read the full story on the John A. Burns School of Medicine website.