Exposure to ways of living, working, and providing healthcare in a setting different from that in one’s own society can aid health professionals in ensuring quality of life for their global patients. As a global player in health professional training, Makerere University College of Health Sciences (MakCHS) has embraced the global health concept as a way of improving health and achieving health equity for all people worldwide.
Founded in 1924, Makerere University Medical School, as it was known at the time, is a renowned institution for quality medical training, research and service delivery. The Medical School became a College of Health Sciences in 2008 consisting of four schools: the School of Medicine (12 Departments), the School of Health Sciences (4 Departments), the School of Public Health (4 Departments) and the School of Biomedical Sciences (7 Departments). Together, the schools offer an array of thirteen undergraduate and twenty-eight graduate training programs comparable to those of our many partner institutions worldwide. The academic faculty includes permanent, contract, honorary, visiting and probation faculty categories that provide teaching, supervision and guidance. The college uses a hybrid teaching approach that combines lecture-based training with student centered problem-based learning and community-based training approach (COBERS). This multidimensional strategy positively influences students’ attitudes
towards working in rural areas.
During my visit to the Western Connecticut Health Network partner institutions, I saw state of the art facilities, organizational arrangements and innovations that we need to improve our training processes here at the College of Health Sciences. The placement of our students and faculty at those institutions has helped build the capacity of specialists who have returned home to make great contributions in their various fields of expertise. My only regret is that they are still very few.
Our vision of global health entails strengthening staff and student exchange as well as research collaborations. These efforts are managed by the International Coordination Office (ICO) that coordinates placement opportunities, homestay hosting/accommodation, social /cultural activities and transportation of global health students from partner institutions. The ICO has overseen the placement of thousands of students over the last five years to Mulago Hospital and other teaching facilities that provide rich learning experiences to multiple health disciplines at various levels.
Our hope is to provide adjunct appointment to faculty from our partner institutions to MakCHS as well as to strengthen supervision for students on global health electives. Weekly notes addressing student-raised issues will be recorded and disseminated as feedback for improvement. The homestay model of accommodation will be expanded to give students a better understanding of not only how we live in the Global South but also an appreciation of the cultural dynamics of our society including language, diet, and political and social ways of life that impact health and medical practice.