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Published on July 18, 2014

Dean Physician Helps Establish Public Health Program in Ghana

Internal Medicine provider Dr. Philip Bain returns to Ghana to help establish a public health program in rural areas

MADISON -- If anyone asks Dean Clinic East Internal Medicine provider Dr. Philip Bain how he spent part of his summer, he might say he helped plant the seeds for improved health in one of the most impoverished parts of the world.

Dr. Bain has provided medical care in the West African nation of Ghana for the past three years.

“Over the three years, it has become very apparent that a much larger impact can be made by looking at the bigger picture,” he said.

So he partnered with student interns at Global Brigades, the world’s largest student-led global health and sustainable development organization. Since 2004, Global Brigades has mobilized thousands of volunteer university students and professionals through skill-based community programs. The organization’s Public Health Brigade effort concentrates on preventing common illnesses, training community leaders and providing health education.
“Public Health Brigades focus on upstream social determinants of health such as safe water, sanitation and good hand washing,” Dr. Bain said. “Also, rather than just treating the symptoms, such as recurrent back pain in pineapple growers, it is far better to find out what is causing the back pain and educate the farmers regarding how to prevent future back pain.”
Dr. Bain visited two very rural communities and got to know the residents well.
“By having in-depth conversations with village members, we were able to better understand cultural barriers to safe water, improved sanitation and optimal nutrition.”
The end result of the internship program will be to establish ongoing Public Health Brigades throughout Ghana, visiting a wide variety of communities.

To learn more about Global Brigades, visit their website.

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