September 3, 2013

My Final Weeks in Uganda

Hilary Rogers, 2013 GHLI Fellow

After finishing the final version of the non-communicable diseases (NCDs) needs assessment tool, I joined the Ministry of Health on a road trip across the eastern and northern parts of Uganda to visit five regional referral hospitals (RRHs). We also stopped at several district hospitals (level below RRHs) and small clinics. I helped in the data collection, which included determining the demand and availability of NCDs drugs, equipment, and personnel. I also conducted interviews with staff that work with NCDs patients. These interviews brought more qualitative richness to the otherwise quantitative data, and their personal stories will allow a better understanding of the issues the health units face. I hope to use some of this data and the interviews for my MPH thesis.

I was really struck by the passion and determination of the physicians and nurses I met on the road trip. In particular, I was inspired by the diabetes nurses who worked extremely long hours, met with more than 50 patients a day by themselves, dealt with shortages of equipment or medicines, and still managed to keep an organized clinic with patient registrars and education materials. I hope to be as passionate a medical/public health professional in the future!

During my last few weeks, I also worked with the GHLI delegates in the planning of the integrated NCD clinic in Mulago National Referral Hospital. Soon they will have the program manager, clinic staff, and equipment to really start the project implementation. I am so grateful for the interesting projects and amount of responsibility I was given during my internship. I now feel so invested in these issues, and am excited to see the good work that comes out of the GHLI–Uganda partnership. I am also extremely thankful for the warmth and kindness I received in Uganda. I know I will make my way back there someday, not only for the delicious matoke and groundnut sauce, but also for my wonderful mentors and friends!

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