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Published: June 11th 2019
Things are starting to get busier for your friendly neighbourhood, U of S student healthcare team! We spent the last week in Rugazi village with the U of S medical students (2), as well as a family physician from Ile-a-la-Crosse. We lived at and spent our mornings working in the level IV health center there (one step down from a hospital). We would either round on the inpatients on male/female medical, pediatric, and maternity wards, or spend the morning in an outpatient clinic (ART or general outpatient). I learned so much about malaria and sickle cell anemia, both of which are infinitely more common here than back in Canada. I also found it useful to spend time working on the maternity ward reviewing my obstetric knowledge. The women here are so stoic compared to North American women when it comes to labour. Not only are analgesics not culturally appropriate in labour here, they simply aren't available. The lack of resources (human, physical, and medical) was definitely something I needed to adjust to.
We made fast friends with the two Ugandan students who joined us, Kenneth and Resty. Both were invaluable members of our team. Kenneth is a medical student and
Resty is a lab science student. Not only was Kenneth essential to rounds because of his seemingly unending knowledge of tropical medicine, he was also our translator, speaking English, Lugandan, and Runyankole. The locals speak Runyankole in Rugazi and in Mbarara, but in Mbarara almost everyone also speaks English. In the villages, this was not the case. Having a language barrier between between myself and my patients proved to be challenging, frustrating, and humbling at every turn.
We spent our afternoons in Rugazi getting to know the community through the Village Health Team (VHT) leader by visiting local homes, meeting with elders, politicians, and community businesses and organizations, as well as attending the large local market, where we tried banana pancakes, fried tilapia, local brew made from bananas, jackfruity, and sugar cane. The scenery in Rugazi was incredible; the clouds surrounded us in wisps, floating around the mountain range where the village is nestled. Our walks around the village were the most scenic of the trip so far.
We are now back in Mbarara for a week of leadership training before heading back out to Rugazi to continue working at the health center as well as start a
community project with an interdisciplinary team of Ugandan students. I'm excited to start a (hopefully) sustainable and lasting community project for the village I have come to love so much!
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