August 6, 2013

Uganda NCDs Assessment

Hilary Rogers, 2013 GHLI Fellow

Someone told me watches in Uganda only have two options: sunrise and sunset. This, he said, leads to “Ugandan time,” the phenomenon of things happening late and running slowly. I have two reasons to argue his point: (1) my time here has flown by, and (2) our team has been able to get a considerable amount done since the conference.

My main project this month has been to develop a non-communicable disease needs assessment tool for the Ministry of Health (MoH). The MoH will use this tool in the regional referral hospitals, district hospitals and health centers. The information they gain from the tool will be integral to assess how to fill the gaps in NCDs personnel, provider skills, equipment, medicine, and more. While writing the needs assessment tool, I learned that equipment and medicine, even if deemed “essential” by the World Health Organization, may not work or may not even be available here. The MoH held a meeting about the tool with regional referral hospital managers and expert specialty physicians, and it was exciting to see these successful and intelligent people evaluate my work. Some of my other projects included confirming work on the start of the five-year plan of the delegation, shadowing doctors on NCD wards, and visiting another district for Uganda’s celebration of Sickle Cell Day (photo).

While discussing the assessment tool, one of my mentors commented that most of the research in Uganda focuses too much on the country’s problems and disease prevalence. Although this information is important, there should be more positive projects and innovations that have successfully worked. I am confident that this delegation’s work will fill this role, and their initiative will serve as model NCDs management for years to come.

With only two weeks left, I traded in my watch for a Ugandan watch, hoping to slow down and fully enjoy my time in this beautiful country.

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