Dr. Ghada El Khoury Receives a ‘Knowledge is Power’ Research Grant Award

April 7, 2016

Clinical Assistant Professor at the LAU School of Pharmacy, Dr. Ghada El Khoury, PharmD, BCACP, has been awarded through the American University of Beirut a ‘Knowledge is Power’ (KIP) academic grant for her theory-driven knowledge-generating research project on “knowledge, attitudes and practices towards family planning: a national survey in the Lebanese community.” The award is made possible through a generous federal assistance from the U.S. Department of State. The proposed study is of relevance to civil society and policy makers working on gender and sexuality in Lebanon.

Equipped with the necessary education and training, and being accessible to patients and the community, pharmacists play a significant role in supporting public health efforts by providing individual and population-based health and wellness interventions. Pharmacists communicate on health literacy; promote health education and early intervention; advocate public policy on wellness, disease prevention and management; provide medication therapy management plans; deliver health awareness campaigns; and engage in population-based research. These will ultimately improve population health outcomes and decrease healthcare costs.

How has your training and practice influenced your research?

My training and practice overlap and revolve around advancing patients’ and population health and well-being. After receiving the Doctor of Pharmacy degree from LAU, I completed an Ambulatory Care Pharmacy Practice residency at Florida Hospital, which was focused on preventive medicine and community health. Later, I earned specialty board certification in ambulatory care pharmacy from the Board of Pharmacy Specialties. In 2014, I was selected along with 30 other international candidates to participate in the Global Health Delivery Intensive Program at Harvard School of Public Health, from which I graduated with a certificate in Global Health Delivery. In 2015, I was delighted to get accepted as a part-time Master’s of Public Health candidate at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. 

In collaborating with faculty and students of the LAU health science schools (Pharmacy, Medicine, Nursing) to provide care to underprivileged population and war refugees in Lebanon, I have come to realize the need for and the importance of public health interventions, which has also made it my research focus. For instance, interventions like immunization, smoking cessation, and the education of illiterate people on various health topics, can contribute to the prevention of disease. The treatment of patients (especially the more vulnerable) at earlier stages of their illnesses can avoid healthcare-driven poverty, which would benefit patients and society.

What anticipated outcomes from your research do you want others to know about?

I would like to first define family planning since it is the topic of my research grant. Family planning “allows individuals to anticipate and attain their desired number of children and the spacing and timing of their births. It is achieved through use of contraceptive methods and the treatment of involuntary infertility”. It directly impacts women’s health and well-being, and the outcome of their pregnancies. Benefits may include reducing infant mortality, preventing pregnancy-related health risks, empowering women, enhancing women’s education, and sustaining population growth.

In a recently published report by the World Health Organization, a specific sustainable target goal is to ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive healthcare services by 2030. This includes the education and integration of family planning into national strategies and programs. In Lebanon, accessing family planning services are difficult. Therefore, my proposed research aims at measuring the Lebanese national rate of family planning methods uptake among women of reproductive age, and assessing barriers for potential unmet needs.

How do pharmacists in Lebanon play an important role in community health?

The Lebanese private tertiary care sector is flourishing while primary care services have considerably fallen behind. Additionally, the Lebanese health system heavily relies on out-of-pocket payments, which makes access to primary care providers challenging, especially for the underprivileged population. Pharmacists can therefore be seen as important, easily accessible, front-line healthcare providers who are well trained to advance community health within their scope of practice.

What is the part of your professional work that mostly excites you?

I very much enjoy giving back to the community. This stems from my personal life history of living within different cultures and groups of diverse people, and realizing the importance of the multidimensional aspects of health, be it physical, mental, and social. I am humbled to be given this opportunity at the LAU School of Pharmacy where the values of “serving society in a most caring, professional, and ethical conduct” are richly fostered and engrained in the school’s mission, vision, values, and educational goals.