July 9, 2013

NCDs in Uganda

Hilary Rogers, 2013 GHLI Fellow

Two weeks ago, I arrived in Uganda to assist with their efforts to improve the management of non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Our main objectives are to create a model for integrated care of NCDs in a clinic in Mulago National Referral Hospital, train health workers in NCD prevention and control, and promote research and advocacy of NCDs.

There are complex issues that hinder Ugandans from receiving good health care. The capacity of the hospital, including space and number of doctors and nurses, cannot meet the needs of the people and their illnesses. Doctors can see 50 patients in a day, and family members are often the caretakers of the patients, feeding them and changing the bed sheets. Another obstacle is the fact that Uganda’s health care has been based on fighting infectious disease, while NCDs have different methods of prevention and control. I have been working on our project narrative, the resources we have and do not have, and how we will achieve all of these objectives in specific steps and action tasks. I am excited by the freshness and potential of this project. We are setting the foundation for what could be an excellent framework for the prevention and control of NCDs in Uganda, one that could cascade from the capital city and country’s biggest hospital, to rural areas and smaller district hospitals and clinics.

I have felt extremely welcome and cared for in Uganda. I even have a Ugandan name – Nambalirwa! Errinya lyange nze Nambalirwa (Luganda for “My name is Nambalirwa”). It comes from the Buganda clan, and is the word for a certain type of plant. On my hunt for this plant, I’ve gotten to see a lot of Kampala, and have been able to spend time with the friends and family of the Ugandan delegates, as well the surprisingly large Yale community that is here.

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