Making a difference in Africa
By Tori Thomas - December 29, 2014
Havre native Dr. R. Scott Brown is making a difference in the African health care system.
Brown resides in Oregon where he is the medical director of the Oregon Anesthesia Group Pain Clinic. He is also an anesthesiologist at various surgical centers.
Brown is also the president and founder of the foundation Surg+Restore. This organization was established to set up the African country of Sierra Leone's first plastic surgery department which includes having trained plastic surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses and therapists.
"The whole purpose of our organization is to train and educate doctors and nurses in Sierra Leone," he said. "Our purpose is to send small teams there to train the local people how to do this because our goal is to make the country self-sufficient."
Brown said plastic surgery in Sierra Leone includes treating cleft lips and palates, burns, machete injuries, snake bites, broken limbs and congenital mouth formations.
"We're trying to get two Sierra Leone doctors trained as plastic surgeons because there are none in the country. And there's one anesthesiologist in the whole country and he's about 75, maybe 80," he added.
Brown also said it will take his team about 15 years to train the individuals for the Sierra Leone department.
"There are 23 to 24 surgeons in the whole country, and the country has (about) 7 million people," he added. "When you go to these other countries where there's no doctors, it makes a profound difference because if you weren't there - no one would be there."
Once Sierra Leone has a trained staff, Surg+Restore will travel to another location to train individuals in plastic surgery.
Brown also said his team works with their parent organization "ReSurge Africa," which is based in Scotland.
Brown said he has been on 25 or 26 international trips over the years to help various countries such as Ecuador and Vietnam improve their medical practices. His first international trip took place in 1995 where he traveled to Guatemala.
The last time Brown did work in Sierra Leone was last February.
"We were supposed to go back to Sierra Leone last month, but we had to cancel our trip because of the Ebola virus," he said.
Brown said his training program is important to the world because he believes people in impoverished nations should have access to health care and education.
"For example now, if Africa had the facilities, the education and the knowledge about how to treat Ebola, then Ebolda wouldn't have been spread," he said. "No one who has caught Ebola in the United States has died, and we've had about 10 or 12 instances. But the mortality (rate) in Sub-Saharan Africa is about 60 to 80 percent."
Brown said that his team will be headed back to Sierra Leone once the Ebola virus is contained.
Brown is also the music director and leader of the Afro-Latin Blues band "Ojos Feos," going by his stage name "Robbie Cree." He said the Native American community influences the songs his bands writes and plays.
"We do all original music - most of our stuff is about human rights," he said. "We have written a couple of songs about social injustice of Native Americans."
He is planning on hosting a fundraiser in Havre for his foundation sometime in 2015. He plans to have his band perform and get other bands involved. He also wants to incorporate the Native American communities in the Havre area, as well, by doing things such as displaying Native American artwork at the event. Some of the proceeds raised at this fundraiser will go toward these communities.
Brown said that growing up in Havre made him who he is today.
"We'd like to start giving back to the community in north-central Montana as well," he said.
For more information on Brown's foundation, visit http://surgandrestore.org.
To learn more about Brown's band, visit https://ojosfeos.com.