An Amazing First Day in Naggalama

Written by Dr. Kira MacDougall, American University College of Medicine Class of 2018


I have had the most incredible first few days here. I am grateful I decided on this elective and could not be happier with my experience thus far. On Tuesday, Gloria and I joined Shaleen on the palliative outreach trip to small villages around Naggalama. Here, palliative care is not just offered to patients with terminal diseases, but also to those with chronic conditions. We went to see our first patient who had what I believe was Burkitt's lymphoma.

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Learning from Commonalities and Differences

Written by Dr. Rafael Khalitov, Global Health Scholar from Russia


The differences among healthcare systems around the world is a common topic for observation and research. Several studies have compared the healthcare system in Russia with those in Western countries. Though traditionally ascribed to varying access to resources and technology, differences in healthcare systems are heavily impacted by culture that can define many aspects of health, including disease manifestation, illness perception, treatment receptivity, and level of social support that is often vital for recovery.

Challenging Moments in Global Health: Invitations

Written by Jamidah Nakato, Assistant Lecturer at Makerere University


Challenging moments are an inherent component of global health electives, and can be ascribed to an array of sources including insufficient orientation, unrealistic expectations, unfamiliarity with the culture and way of life, or mismatch between participant and elective. “Challenging Moments in Global Health” aims to address these issues by featuring real cases that have been written by global health coordinators, directors, and leaders over the years. We hope that readers share their responses, thoughts, and personal experiences so that we as a community can learn from each others’ insights.
A participant invited a group of Ugandan doctors out for dinner, but the night took an unexpected turn when he could not settle the humongous bill.

Just a Medical Rotation? Think again! – Part II

Written by Jamidah Nakato, Assistant Lecturer at Makerere University


The Global Health Office once hosted a participant who had difficulty attending the first few clinical and cultural activities because of a physical disability. In the middle of the first week, the office scheduled a cultural excursion to a local witch doctor. Participants were given a background of witch doctors, including how they are perceived, why their services are sought, and what their contribution is to traditional medicine.

Graduation: Part IV

Written by Dr. Judith Lewis, Director of the Psychiatry Residency Training Program at the University of Vermont Larner College of Medicine


The residents were another bright spot to my visit. I met with a dozen of them, and their chatter reminded me of the camaraderie of our own resident group. We had an hour-long discussion about the similarities and differences between our two healthcare systems, them agape at the autonomy and legal rights of our patients to refuse treatment and me agape at their high patient volumes and moonlighting hours needed to “find money” to support themselves.

Graduation: Part III

Written by Dr. Judith Lewis, Director of the Psychiatry Residency Training Program at the University of Vermont Larner College of Medicine


What was reassuringly anchoring for me in this unfamiliar place were the patients. I was riveted by the experience of sitting in clinic and hearing their stories. Although the explanations for symptoms took a cultural twist, the primary diagnoses were identical to those in the United States. Patients had the same presentations of psychotic, mood, anxiety, addictive, and traumatic illnesses. They also had epilepsy, a stigmatized illness treated mostly by psychiatrists in Uganda.

Looking Back While Moving Forward

Written by Tendai Machingaidze, Associate Site Director for University of Zimbabwe


The field of global health has indeed come a long way. During Family Medicine Grand Rounds on October 29, 2018, Dr. Pierce Gardner took us on a journey from the indistinct beginnings of global health to where it is today. In his presentation on “Academia and Global Health: Benefits and Ethics,” Dr. Gardner highlighted how the driving force for global health work has changed across the decades. Be it out of humanitarian concerns, self-interest, economics, or scientific advancement, men and women across history have sought to cross the geographical and cultural divides that separate us, in order to bring healing to those most in need of it.

Ethical Dilemmas in Global Health: Cases That Challenge Ethical Beliefs

Written by Dr. Sahand Arfaie, Critical Care Specialist and Co-Director of the Critical Care Unit at Essential Health-Fargo in North Dakota


Unfortunately, the Intensive Care Unit population here happens to be that of young lives in their twenties going about their day-to-day until they face motor vehicle accidents with little to no personal protection, resulting in severe injuries. Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is the bread and butter here in Mulago Hospital.

Just a Medical Rotation? Think again!: Part I

Written by Jamidah Nakato, Assistant Lecturer at Makerere University


Usually when I go home, tired and worn out after a long day, I sit on the living room sofa and switch on the television. At that moment, I feel entitled to watch a movie because it is guaranteed to take my mind off the usual things and onto something else. This particular night, the movie playing was “Eat, Pray, Love” in which a woman, played by Julia Roberts, leaves her comfortable life in America after a divorce in an effort to rediscover herself. She travels to India, Italy, and Bali, where she tries to get involved in a number of cultural activities. Midway through the movie, I had a feeling of deja vu! Where had I seen something like this? I realized this situation was reminiscent of many student experiences in global health programs. 

Frameworks for the Future

Written by Tendai Machingaidze, Associate Site Director for University of Zimbabwe


The world is becoming smaller and smaller every day. A clichéd saying perhaps, but acutely true when it comes to healthcare. Countries, cultures, and communities are increasingly intertwined via travel and migration. The burden of disease in one country can, in a matter of hours, become the burden of disease in a country on the opposite side of the world. As such, developing sustainable local medical practices around the world is ever more critical as we seek to promote healthy lives for all people.