Canadian Physicians Bring Global Health Insights Home

Drs. Mahli Brindamour and Ryan Meili, two Saskatoon-based physicians, spent six months volunteering in Lesotho with Partners in Health. Their experience treating tuberculosis patients in challenging conditions offered valuable lessons for their work in northern Saskatchewan.

Dr. Meili in Lesotho. Credit: Mahli Brindamour and Ryan Meili

When Dr. Ryan Meili found himself conducting a medical checkup on horseback in the mountains of Lesotho, he knew this was far from his usual rounds in Saskatoon.

This improvised clinic, born of necessity when a patient couldn’t make the 40-kilometer journey to the hospital, exemplifies the innovative spirit that Meili and his wife, Dr. Mahli Brindamour, embraced during their six-month volunteer stint in southern Africa. Their experience with Partners in Health, treating tuberculosis patients in challenging conditions, would prove to be more than just an adventure – it became a masterclass in adaptive healthcare that they’re now bringing back to their practice in Saskatchewan.

Drs. Brindamour and Meili with their children in 2018. Credit: Emma Love

The couple, along with their two children, immersed themselves in the challenges of providing healthcare in a resource-limited setting. Their time in Lesotho was marked by creative approaches to patient care, often requiring them to think outside the box of traditional medical practice.

Drs. Brindamour and Meili discovered that successful tuberculosis treatment extends far beyond medication. They witnessed firsthand the profound impact of addressing factors such as nutrition, housing, and support systems on patient outcomes. This holistic approach resonated deeply with their experiences treating tuberculosis in northern Saskatchewan, where similar social determinants of health play a crucial role.

Dr. Brindamour has a long history of advocating for underserved populations in Saskatoon. She has been instrumental in establishing health clinics for refugees, particularly those fleeing the Syrian civil war. Her work extends beyond individual patient care to systemic advocacy, pushing for better housing and support for marginalized communities. Dr. Brindamour has also been involved with Sanctum 1.5, a supported living home for pregnant women and new mothers with substance abuse issues and HIV risks.

Dr. Brindamour treating a baby in Lesotho. Credit: Mahli Brindamour and Ryan Meili

Dr. Meili, prior to his political career in Saskatchewan, was deeply involved in community health initiatives. He founded the Student Wellness Initiative Toward Community Health (SWITCH) and the University of Saskatchewan’s Making the Links program, which provided medical students with experience in inner-city Saskatoon, Northern Saskatchewan, and Mozambique. Dr. Meili also established the Upstream think tank, focusing on social determinants of health in policy-making. His work has consistently emphasized the connection between social conditions and health outcomes.

“It’s not just about drugs and medicine, but also those upstream factors of trying to make sure people have decent nutrition, they have the supports they need, they have a safe place to stay, so that they can take care of their health and do so in a way that’s going to actually work for them,” Dr. Meili said in an interview with CBC News.

The experience left a lasting impression on both doctors, emphasizing the value of cultural exchange and mutual learning in global health initiatives. Their story serves as a reminder of the interconnectedness of global health challenges and the potential for innovative solutions to emerge from unexpected places.

Read more

Sask. doctor makes unusual house call while volunteering in southern Africa, by Jason Warick for CBC News, July 10, 2024

Partners in Health in Lesotho

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About Angels in Medicine

Angels in Medicine is a volunteer site dedicated to the humanitarians, heroes, angels, and bodhisattvas of medicine. The site features physicians, nurses, physician assistants and other healthcare workers and volunteers who reach people without the resources or opportunities for quality care, such as teens, the poor, the incarcerated, the elderly, or those living in poor or war-torn regions. Read their stories at

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