Drew students study healthcare in South Africa.

Drew students studied healthcare in South Africa this summer.
Drew students studied healthcare in South Africa this summer.

Well after most students headed home for the summer, eight Drew students interested in careers in medicine and science studied healthcare in Johannesburg, Pretoria and Cape Town for three weeks.

“It was eye opening,” said Michelle Mensah C’17, a psychology major. “I only knew the American health system. But in South Africa they’re going to great lengths to make sure everyone is getting taken care of.”

Mensah, who is involved in Drew’s Volunteer Resource Center and Ubuntu, the Pan-African Choir, compared ADHD treatment in South Africa and the United States. After graduating from Drew, she plans to earn a master’s degree in public health and work in drug treatment policy.

Led by Professor E. Obiri Addo, students learned about public health, multiple faith traditions and patient advocacy through coursework on the South African healthcare system and South African culture and history, as well as by speaking with doctors, clinic workers, medical students and professors. The program is organized by Drew’s Center for Global Education.

“You are immersing yourself in the culture, not in the classroom,” said Tyler Dorrity C’18, a biochemistry major who plans a career in pharmaceutical research.

Back on Drew’s campus, Dorrity is researching a possible treatment for HIV under the mentorship of biology professor Brianne Barker through the intensive Drew Summer Science Institute. In South Africa, he met with HIV researchers, as well as with professors, doctors and urban planners who are working to combat HIV.

He said he learned that many South Africans rely on faith or traditional healers instead of western-style doctors, which he said is critical to understanding the South African public health system.