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Cardiology Electives in Uganda

Filed under: GEMx Regional Exchanges, GEMx Student Reflections

Lindokuhle DIamini

Post by Lindokuhle Dlamini MBChB 5 student UKZN Nelson Mandela School of Medicine, South Africa

Preparations and Travelling to Uganda

During the time I was preparing for my trip to Uganda for my Cardiology electives for three weeks. I was not sure whether it was going to be possible for me to go to Uganda or not due to the fact that this was my first time traveling to a place that is outside of my own country. Immediately after my online application through GEMx, everything was easy for me because I received the help I needed on time and hence it was easy to get Immunizations, Visa, and other useful information about the place I was traveling to on time. Many people intervened and assisted a lot, Prof. Mergan Naidoo who is the GEMx Manager at UKZN, Professor Ncoza Dlova the dean of clinical medicine at UKZN medical school, Faith Nawagi from GEMx and Sunga Chumia helped me a lot with the whole process.

During the day of my trip to Uganda, I missed my flight from South Africa to Entebbe in Uganda, and this was due to the fact that there was a very long immigration cue at the airport and very few consultants, this was the only challenge I faced, but I did rebook the flight and the following morning I then traveled to Uganda, it was a good experience indeed.

Arrival and General Impression about Uganda

I arrived at Entebbe, and I checked in in the country after that I went to the Mugalo Hospital guest house where I was staying for my electives, I met many people in Uganda, but the common thing I noticed about every individual I met is that they were so welcoming and respecting as well, even though sometime I would not feel well because I did not fully understand their culture during the few days of my arrival in Uganda, and my fear was that maybe I will do or say something that means something bad or rude according to their culture, but their respect always kept me feeling at home. Uganda is a very good country but very expensive. I went to Shoprite just to get a few items at Acacia Mall and while comparing prices with the South African Shoprite, it was a lot more expensive. Staying at Mulago Hospital guest house was very good I met few Medical students from other countries and it was very nice to meet them, listen, and observe them as well I learned a lot from them both academically and socially.

Lindokuhle posing for the camera

My first day of Cardiology at Uganda Heart Institute, as I was still battling with the one hour difference between South Africa and Uganda, one of the Medical Students from the College of Health Sciences was sent to come and give us a tour around the Mulago Hospital, it was so useful because from then I did not struggle with directions around the entire hospital. On my first day, I met Dr. Isaac Ssinabuyla who is the manager of the GEMx at Makerere University, who is also a Cardiologist at Uganda Heart Institute, I also met Phionah Kinwa who is the Associate Coordinator for International Programs at Makerere College of Health Sciences. Dr. Isaac Ssinabulya took us and we went to the Heart Institute, we arrived the ward round had already started and he introduced us to the team. The Cardiologist who was in charge was Dr. Lugero Charles.  I learned a lot, most of the patients we saw were mixed valvular disease patients. The team I was with at the Uganda Heart Institute were so keen to teach, I learned a lot from them, not only academics but even the conduct of a Medical Doctor, being part of the team equipped me, to such an extent that I now consider Cardiology my first choice specialty. On Tuesdays, I attended major ward rounds where I met Dr. Batambuze an old Cardiologist who received his training in the United States. He taught me Cardiology, most patients presented with the mixed Valvular disease, coronary artery disease, Aortic dissection mostly caused by hypertension, and congestive Cardiac failure.

Lindokuhle and his colleagues

I clerked and presented patients to the doctors during ward rounds, and the most important thing Dr. Batambuze use to emphasize was the issue of being able to pick up clinical signs and being able to interpret them, as well as the importance of demonstrating how you elicited the clinical signs you mention. My Cardiology clinical attachment helped me a lot; it taught me to work with other people. Dr. Batambuze organized tutorials, and he uses to give both us medical students and MMed students tutorials, it is quite good to be involved in a clinical setting with many medical doctors, because you get different views and approaches as well which broadens your horizons. After the ward round, I used to study a lot, to try and cover as much work as possible. It was much discouraging to learn that Doctors are underpaid after so much hard work of their training, and the type of care they give to patients. It was also sad to see some of the patients in beds because nothing can be done but only palliation and some of them cannot afford to pay for the surgery procedures more especially the Type A Aortic dissection patients, because of limited resources at Uganda Heart Institute, and patients have to be transported to Kenya for such procedures only to find out that patients cannot afford, but I was glad because even though most patients could not afford, Doctors use to continue with medical treatment learned that there is a lot of communication in medicine, and to be a good doctor does not only require excellent academic record but it requires a lot of passion, patience, and commitment. I also learned to approach patients as a whole, not only to treat the disease but also to focus on other aspects of life, because they might be the precipitants and the cause of the disease. And now that I am at home I will make sure that I help other fellow students, and furnish them with all the information I received at Uganda Heart Institute. I really appreciate the experience I had at the Uganda Heart Institution.

Lindokuhle in his medical cap and stethoscope

Acknowledgments

I would like to thank GEMx for offering this exchange program, which made everything easy on my side as far as applications and other important information is concerned, thanking SAMA Scholarship for offering me funding. Prof Mergan Naidoo who is the manager of GEMx at the University of KwaZulu Natal(UKZN), Prof Ncoza Dlova who is the dean and head of the school of clinical medicine at UKZN who encouraged me to apply and further assisted me with finances where they were loopholes, Miss Sunga Chumia who assisted me with logistics. I would also like to thank Dr. Isaac Ssinabuyla who is the manager of GEMx at Makerere University in Uganda for the help and for hosting us as well as Phionah Kinwa.

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