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"If We Don't Do It Then Who?"

African Voices: Richard Adanu, MBChB, MPH '05

Richard Adanu, MBChB, MPH '05

Obstetrician/gynecologist; Gates Scholar; and lecturer, University of Ghana Medical School and School of Public Health

Accra, Ghana

Photographed on January 24, 2006

While working at St. Dominic's Catholic Hospital in Ghana's rural Kwaebibrem district in 1999, Richard Adanu treated dozens of women for pelvic-floor dysfunction (PFD). The condition, which is frequently related to childbirth, can cause the uterus to protrude into the vagina and can lead to difficulty controlling urination and other problems. Adanu treated the women's symptoms, but he wanted to do more.

“The typical clinical response would be... "Let me fix the ones I see." My public health training says, "Let me go out and find out how much is there and what can we do to prevent this from happening because it doesn't have to happen."

There must be a number of women who have some residual damage but who are living out in the community and have probably been made to accept their situation as normal. [The attitude is], "It happens at childbirth. You're not leaking urine, you're not dead so you must be happy with what you are ending up with."

In the PFD study we're planning, we will go out there and find these women that nobody is really talking about and find out what we can do to make their reproductive health better. One of the most valuable things I learned in the Hopkins MPH program was the training in research methods. Before a person can begin to change the situation, one needs to go out and study it properly, come out with the right answers and then implement interventions.”

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