Anyway ... after a fantastic introduction to the city of Kampala yesterday, today we focused on health and public health in Uganda. Our first order of business was a meeting on personal health and safety issues to keep in mind during our visit (i.e. how not to get malaria, Ebola, bilharzia, or avian flu). The bottom line: use common sense, take your malaria medicine, don't touch dead bodies or people who are bleeding from the eyes (the way you get Ebola), and don't swim in fresh water lakes. We then proceeded to the Makerere University School of Public Health for a tour and a meeting with the Dean, Dr. William Bazeyo, followed by a tour of Mulago Public Hospital.
View of the suburbs of Kampala from Kololo Hill.
The School of Public Health sits on the Makerere University Health Sciences campus which also houses the medical school, nursing school, infectious disease research unit, and Mulago Hospital.
View of Kampala from the School of Public Health.
At Mulago Hospital we received a comprehensive tour from Senior Nurse Christine Namukasa who as worked there for over 30 years. This is a public hospital that serves as a referral point for several district health centers. Anything that a local health center cannot treat is referred here - this includes obstetric complications, cancer treatments, and surgeries. The facility also has an emergency unit where trauma victims are bought. No patients are turned away - in certain wards hospital beds filled the hallways. On another note, this is where they filmed the hospital scenes from The Last King of Scotland.
Here we are with Nurse Christine. She is absolutely fantastic and spared nothing as she took us around the hospital - we even went right up to the labor suite where 70 babies are born each day. She asked us if we "feared blood" before she led us into the emergency room, luckily we weren't faced with any.
|Photo courtesy of Leigh Bernstein|
From the hospital we proceeded to the School of Public Health's Kasangati Annex on the outskirts of Kampala.
The annex is adjacent to the District 4 Health Center where local residents receive primary care including family planning, routine pediatrics, and non-complicated obstetric cases. The center is theoretically equipped with an ambulance in case any patients need to be transported to Mulago Hospital, but the vehicle was currently at another center.
Following our tour guide Simon to the maternity ward at the District 4 Health Center.
I was surprised by this sign at the maternity ward, but Elizabeth told me that new research shows if the mother is receiving antiretroviral therapy, the nutritional benefits of breast feeding outweigh the risk of mother-to-child transmission of HIV.
It was truly a fantastic day that gave us a great look at the health system in and around Kampala. Tomorrow we head to Jinja!