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.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

What a rude awakening!

I am a Ugandan born and raised in the "Pearl of Africa". The green grass, juicy fruits, beautiful clouds, raw nature, cloud formations and animals will take your breath away. I have always gone back to visit family and had good times at the beaches, resorts and parks. But nothing prepared me for a professional experience that I just had.

This was a different kind of Visit. One that made me hold my breath. Just never thought that the kind of experience I  had would be from a country I grew up in.

When I signed up for the mission, it was a lifetime opportunity. It never occurred to me that I would walk away feeling helpless, defeated, angry, and more appreciative of the life I have in the United States.

How could I be so helpless just like the children and parents I met at Mulago Hospital? After all, I was there to help!
Its amazing what happens when you are stuck in a situation where you have to work with what you are given. Unfortunately, the poor parents, children and health care providers are not just in a moments situation. It is their way of life.

With healthcare providers at Mulago Peds, Triage,  Rresuscitation, Acute and PICU stretched thin, lots of desperate children awaiting care could hardly get any services. When it came to respiratory distressed patients, limitations were endless, such as;
  • All Peds areas used two pulse oximeters with the same probe moved from one patient to another
  •  Masks and nasal cannulas were re-used
  • No infection control between patients and providers whatsoever
  • Could not determine how much oxygen was delivered later on liter flow per minute since a water bottle was attached to a flow meter on an H-cylinder and various needles and IV tubing were used to connect nasal cannulas.
  • Masks were re-used for breathing treatments, Non-re breather masks had been used for God knows how long
  • Resuscitation was more harmful than useful. Basic CPR skills were not practiced
  • Parents were not part of their children's care and were actually afraid of their sick children
  • Use of BiPAP was the most we attempted to non-invasively Ventilate. And the list is endless.
With that said,  the minimal impact we made, doctors, nurses and technicians were all eager to learn and were very gratefull for the education we provided. Parents were also grateful for our presence and some attributed survival of their children to our presence there. And as much frustrated as I felt during my experience at Mulago, the connection I made with the people I met was rewarding. Visits by relatives at the guest House were a great distraction from a day's frustration.  Palm sunday with Donna, Kristi and Sue was a distraction as well.  And with much more needed work, there is a light at the end of the tunnel which requires a lot more than mere words can say.

Judith Phillips.

The pretty green and clouds

A refreshing moment with a healthy child

A refreshing moment with a healthy child

Palm Sunday at Lubaga Cathedral

Judith with Prima at the Guest House yard .
 Prima is in desperate need for surgical removal of
her enlarged tonsils and adenoids.

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