Samaritan’s Feet has partnered with Sanford Health, a health system dedicated to transforming the health care experience, in part by providing shoes in order to increase the quality of life for those in need. The two organizations began their efforts together in Africa by sending a container of 15,000 pairs of shoes to Ghana.
“We partnered with Samaritan’s Feet with the goal of giving kids shoes so they don’t have the parasitic infections or foot borne diseases. That’s a really good thing, but we know we can do more on top of that because I see this is an execution strategy, too. Teachers also validated that and said more people show up to school when they know they will get shoes,” said David Pearce, PhD, President, Innovation, Research, and Sanford World Clinic, Sanford Health.
Dr. Pearce oversees research for Sanford Health, including preparing and studying potential therapies and clinical trials. He also manages the World Clinic program, which was initially established in different countries to learn about how health care was delivered, but to also make a contribution to those communities’ unmet needs. In Ghana, in particular, Sanford Health opened up specific World Clinics for sickle cell anemia, type 1 diabetes, and infectious diseases.
“About 5% of children in Ghana are experiencing parasitic infections of the gastrointestinal tract. So, we partnered with Samaritan’s Feet to demonstrate that before you get a pair of shoes, you can also get a deworming medication,” said Dr. Pearce.
In November of 2021, Samaritan’s Feet and Sanford Health did their first shoe distribution in Prampram, Ghana where deworming medication was also given out. That day, around 1,600 students were walked to the Ghana Health Services building class-by-class from their schools nearby. Their first stop was the hand-washing station, where they carefully cleaned and washed their hands before moving on to the deworming station.
The students arrived at that station to receive a deworming pill, one that will help a child’s body absorb nutrients while also helping expel worms from the stomach and prevent any sort of infection. After taking the pill, they got a bag of water to wash it down. Next, it was time for new shoes where community and Sanford Health volunteers sat in front of the students ready to serve them individually. They gently washed and cleaned the students’ feet and then placed a pair of properly-fitting shoes on them. These shoes were special—they were World Shoes—which contain an anti-microbial to help prevent infections in the feet.
Teachers in Prampram noted that more kids show up to school when they are getting new shoes, plus the obvious benefit that the 5% of the kids with parasitic infections will be healed by the deworming pill.