About UNC Project-Uganda

In 2004, a group of UNC physicians established the Amal Murarka International Pediatric Health Foundation in memory of their colleague, Dr. Amal Murarka, who died unexpectedly in 2003. The foundation sent a medical team to Kampala to establish the country's first pediatric intensive care unit at Mulago Hospital, Makerere University, where Dr. Murarka had previously conducted research. Subsequent work in 2007 and 2008 focused on pediatric cardiac surgery. The foundation not only built a cardiac ICU, but also performed a total of 21 life-saving pediatric cardiac surgeries.

In 2008 the foundation partnered with the Institute for Global Health and Infectious Diseases to establish UNC Project-Uganda.


The UNC Project-Uganda was established to support sustainable delivery of compassionate and competent health care to infants, children, and adolescents in Uganda; to improve the medical knowledge of the Ugandan health care workforce through in-country training and a physician exchange program; and to provide advanced medical equipment, medications, and services necessary for the delivery of compassionate and competent pediatric care in Uganda.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Benny Joyner, MD, MPH

My name is Benny Joyner and I am a 3rd year pediatric critical care fellow at UNC. I, like others on this mission, have always held a deep desire to reach out beyond our geographic and national borders to help children in need. In fact, my entire professional career has been focused on children-starting out as a high school teacher, until circumstances dictated that I change tack. As a result, a pediatrician was born.

After attending obtaining both my medical degree and my master's in public health degree from UNC Chapel Hill, I left the comforts of home and went to the bright lights of New York City where I completed my internship, residency and Chief Residency at the Children's Hospital at Montefiore in the Bronx. While I have always had a love of international travel for recreational purposes, it was during my chief year that I first got a taste of international travel with an altruistic aim. Working with the cardiac surgeon at Montefiore I was invited to accompany his team to El Salvador to participate in the care of post operative cardiac surgery patients. While this trip was by far the most exhausting experience of my life, it was also one of the top 5 experiences of my life and, quite honestly, the most rewarding experience of my professional career.

Seeing the impact that I could have on the lives of the children for whom I cared was a gift but, by far, the biggest gift that I received was the renewal of my spirit and belief in my decision to go into medicine. In a time of increasing responsibilities and pressures of trainees in the US medical system, the opportunity to go abroad and apply what I have learned thus far, to realize just truly how blessed I am to have the life I have, to work in the US medical system and to have the opportunity to support and partner with other medical staff around the globe could not have come at a more perfect time. I returned from that trip physically exhausted but more alive spiritually and emotionally and ready to tackle my fellowship.

How fortunate that this opportunity to work abroad-supporting others as they build their programs and to make the difference in another child's life half a world away-comes at a time as I make my next transition from fellow to attending. It is for these reasons that, when asked if I was interested, I leaped at the opportunity to go. I look forward to working with all of the staff in Uganda and acquiring experiences and memories that will last a lifetime.

1 comment:

Jose Alberto said...

They are blessed to have a compassionate and hilarious fellow such as yourself on their team. Best of luck to you and your colleagues! You will be in our prayers!