Hi all, Well I have arrived safely in Kampala and now have been here over 1 week. We spent a couple days orienting t the Global Health Fellowship Program in Washington D.C. before we left to Kampala (this was my first time to D.C.,so I was impressed. As I have stated before - I am thrilled for the opportunity with GHFP and am looking forward to learnig tons.
I have now worked 5 days at Mengo Clinic- in Kampala. I am truly impressed with the work they are doing. The clinic serves over 5,000 HIV positive patients and sees approximately 200 patients a day. They do counseling.testing and ARV administration and management of symptoms of people on treatment. They do an excellent job with counseling HIV positive patients and working with the patients to make sure they adhere to treatment. There is much ongoing education and support groups for the patients, so they can maintain thier treatment. Many patients still suffer from stigma, poverty and lack of support. The people who work at the clinic are outgoing, positive and very supportive of their patients and welcoming to me- a newcomer.... am sure I will learn tons from them.
In Uganda, people must wait until their CD4 count is below 250 (which is quite low) before they can go on treatment- this is because of funding... There simply is not enough funding to treat all of the HIV + patients, so they let the CD4 count drop quite low before putting patients on treatment. Much of the funding comes from Pepfar grants supplied by the U.S.
I am learning to navigate the taxi system here in Kampala... It is difficult,crowded and dirty- traffic is as bad as in India- with 6 rows of cars jammed up -trying to drive in 2 lanes of road and every one beeping their horns, yelling and running over pedestrians,with motorcycles and bicycles trying to pass between vehicles that are too close together. To find your combi (the 16 paseenger vehicle in which they pack 18-20) you must risk your life dodging between cars and trying to squeeze between combis that are backing up or moving forward-with no regards to people walking between at all. On top of trying to navigate in an area in which you dont speak Lugandan, and people are yelling "muzungu!!!"-which means white person..and trying to overcharge you for the fare..... Ahhhh welcome back to Africa- This taxi rank is much more difficult,conjested and dirty than any have been in in South Africa or Lesotho!!!