International Health Senior Conducts Research in Ghana

OCTOBER 7, 2013 - As part of the Department of International Health’s practical experience abroad program, senior Thomas Brooke (NHS’14) is currently conducting research in Ghana at the Navrongo Health Research Centre.

“I am loving my semester in Ghana,” says the senior.  “I have never met a more friendly and genuinely kind people as the Ghanaians. In addition to the culture, the opportunities I have to join projects on the cutting edge of public health have truly impressed me.”

Since arriving, Brooke has worked on several center projects related to malaria treatment, maternal health, and the census.

HIV/AIDS Project

In addition to these efforts, Brooke is launching his own research study on reproductive health and HIV/AIDS.

“I will conduct a survey of high school students to assess the effect of in-school reproductive health lessons on students’ knowledge, attitudes, and practices about HIV/AIDS and reproductive health in general,” he says.  “I am hoping to show the effectiveness of in-school health lessons on improving reproductive health.”

Working in Communities

Brooke says the experience has afforded him the opportunity to meet community leaders in different locations, including the town of Paga.

“In joining the research staff, I have traveled with them to greet village chiefs and elders,” he says.  “In this ceremony, we explained our new malaria project and sought their permission to conduct our research in their area.”

Strong Preparation

International health majors complete this experience during the fall semester of their senior year at various sites around the globe.  Brooke says his education has given him a strong foundation for his work in Ghana.

“My international health major has prepared me extremely well for my experience abroad,” he says.  “While nothing can fully prepare you for the challenges of field research, my research methods course gave me the tools to successfully complete an institutional review board proposal in a few short weeks.”

He also cites courses on maternal health and demographics and the training he has received to do in-depth literature reviews on health topics.

“All of these have been invaluable preparations for Navrongo,” he says.

Active Student

Though nearly 5,000 miles away from Georgetown’s campus this semester, Brooke says he appreciates life back on the Hilltop.

He has been a tutor for human biology, a peer advisor, a GAAP weekend ambassador, and a pre-medical society mentor.  He has served on the school’s Academic Council and with GERMS since his freshman year.  He was also initiated into Phi Beta Kappa.

“My time at Georgetown cannot be compared to any other time in my life,” he says.  “The capstone of this has been to conduct my very own research project in Ghana – an experience usually privileged only to graduate students.  The internships and cultural capacities of Washington have far exceeded even my optimistic expectations. In a word, Georgetown has been fantastic.”

By Bill Cessato