Educating the WNY refugee community on medication safety

Published November 22, 2016

Gina Prescott, clinical associate professor, pharmacy practice, has been working with UB School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences (SPPS) students to train the Western New York refugee community on medication use and safety.

The initiative, entitled Development of a Sustainable Medication Literacy Program in the Refugee Community, was chosen for funding by the University at Buffalo President's Circle, which supports university endeavors that align with key institutional priorities.

SPPS students conducted a needs assessment survey targeting WNY community pharmacists serving refugee populations. The results of the survey, indicating a strong need for refugee education, were presented and discussed at UB’s third annual Refugee Health Summit in April. The summit, created three years ago, helps identify barriers and explore solutions to culturally engaged health care for refugee populations in Buffalo.

Prescott and her students also met with education staff and case workers at the International Institute of Buffalo, the initiative's community parter, to discuss commonly seen concerns that the refugees had. From there, a collection of culturally-sensitive tools for the refugee population was developed, including a presentation and brochure that explain how to read prescription labels and the importance of taking medications as prescribed.

Medication label

Medication training sessions have taken place at the International Institute of Buffalo and Erie 1 BOCES on Buffalo’s West Side. To date, over 75 refugees from nearly 20 countries in Africa and the Middle East have received instruction.

The future of this project is promising—Prescott hopes to expand to other refugee resettlement sites and include community pharmacies in the effort.