OXFORD, Miss. – University of Mississippi pharmacy students are doing their part to help combat global malnutrition by raising funds for Vitamin Angels, a charitable organization that helps at-risk populations gain access to micronutrients.
The organization’s mission is to mobilize and deploy private resources to increase availability, access to and use of these micronutrients, particularly vitamin A.
Deborah I. Torres Ratliff, a second-year professional pharmacy student, or PY2, is vice president of operations for the Ole Miss chapter of the American Pharmacists Association Academy of Student Pharmacists, or APhA-ASP. As such, she planned, organized and implemented the Vitamin Angels fundraiser.
“As health care providers, we understand the severity of not receiving the essential vitamins we need for our everyday functioning, and we feel a responsibility to help in any way possible,” said Ratliff, an Ocean Springs native. “These children deserve a chance for a brighter future. Who would have realized that a quarter could have such an impact?”
According to the World Health Organization, around 250 million preschool children are vitamin A deficient. The WHO estimates that 250,000 to 500,000 of these vitamin A-deficient children become blind every year, and half of them die within 12 months of losing their sight.
The fundraiser began during pharmacy’s Student Body Week in October and continued online until late November.
APhA-ASP raised $1,126 for the initiative. As a result, more than 4,500 children will be helped and provided with vitamin A.
Another PY2 student, Carlile Phillips of Greenville, assisted with the fundraiser.
“Vitamin Angels is a wonderful fundraiser because of the impact it can make with just 25 cents,” Phillips said. “A quarter is enough money to provide vitamin A to one child for one year.”
It is vital for pharmacy students to participate in such fundraisers, Ratliff said.
“It is important to give back to the community,” she said. “Additionally, as pharmacists, we will have the ability to reach thousands of people and raise awareness of issues and opportunities that can change lives.”
For more information on Vitamin Angels, visit http://www.vitaminangels.org.