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.
MissionThe 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
Now that we arrived home safely, I did want to explain to those following us why we could not be more outspoken and communicative and why we could not send more pictures until now...Well the story begins months ago when we were forced to change our travel dates to avoid an always controversial Presidential Election. This finally occurred in February and so our trip was rescheduled to commenced in April. Of course, the world became aware of all of the neighboring countries, particularly those in the Arab World, who were undergoing revolutionary change in their governments. If one looks at a map of Uganda, you can see ALL the neighboring countries in conflict. Thus for the safety of our team, we kept our travel dates secret and posts/broadcasts quiet. We arrived in Uganda with news of local and limited protests and conflicts in the capital, Kampala. Our US Embassy kept our team informed by sending email alerts and in speaking to us nearly daily throughout stay.
April 14, 2011
Opposition Walk-to-Work Protest Turns Violent
Opposition party-led demonstrations over rising costs of living reportedly are turning violent. Witnesses indicate that police are firing into the air and using tear gas to disperse the crowds. Injuries have been reported. American citizens are advised to exercise caution and avoid any large gatherings. Areas currently affected include Gayaza Road, Jinja Road, Kalerwe, and Bwayise (all in greater Kampala).
U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive the latest security information. You should keep all of your information in STEP up-to-date, including your current phone number and a current email address where you can be reached in case of an emergency.
U.S. citizens should also consult the Country Specific Information Sheet for Uganda and the Worldwide Caution, both located on the Department of State’s web site. Up-to-date information on safety and security is available toll-free at 1-888-407-4747 from within the United States and Canada, or at regular toll rates at 1-202-501-4444 for callers from outside the United States and Canada, from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
Our friends and partners at Samaritan's Purse had a network of individuals on the ground throughout the country with their ears to the ground sharing real time information with us. SP provided us with multiple local phones that were essential in communicating as we had GREAT difficulty in using our Sprint or Blackberry phones in country. It took a week to establish voice communications though we were severely limited in text and data services. We could receive but not send text messages. Our friends in Uganda and back home had other important information and daily updates for us (THANKS SUE B). We felt quiet safe and secure in the country, though we had daily security updates and discussions with the team while creating a series of contigency plans "just in case." As it turns out,we ended up being in the middle of escalating protests which turned violent. One summary of the conflicts lead by President's opposition leader, Dr Besigye (the former physician of President Museveni) is described below.
Mulago Hospital, where we were working, received many patients who suffered from a variety of injuries including gunshot wounds and the ill effects of tear gas. We saw innocent babies and children in the Peds Acute who were caught up in the protests. Sadly, on the day we left, we read that a 2 year old was shot in the head and chest and killed, reportedly by the police supressing protests. This year, unlike years in past, there was a constant wailing of the sirens of ambulances, day and night. While receiving a security update from Samaritan's Purse, I saw a protestor being chased by numerous policemen in camaflouge and carrying machine guns through the edge of the hospital complex into town. The police presence throughout Kampala was obvious and dense. We were stopped by a policeman as we departed the city, who detained us briefly because he saw us take a picture of him and he wanted to be certain we were not foreign journalists. It was unclear what his intentions were, though he did state that he could arrest us for taking the photo. Our internet access was severely limited this year. It was unclear if this was intentional stemming from the protests or from fiscal constraints that shut down access from the ISP's. We were able to obtain a satellite modem that allowed us to send and receive email, though pictures could not be sent. News reports over the TV and in print varied widely, though apparently none reached major news outlets like CNN. This was good from our vantage point as we wished not to distress our family and friends. We all cheered as we landed in Atlanta and went through US Customs and Boarder Patrol where we were greeted by the kind officers "WELCOME HOME!" This year these two words were even more salient and comforting. We are so blessed and privileged....