The Summer Institute Goes To Uganda!

Written by Maddy Bishop-Van Horn, EWH's Summer Institute Coordinator

Kelsey and Thomas walk to work at Uganda Heart InstituteThis year, EWH is running our first Summer Institute program in Uganda. The Uganda program builds on a strong partnership between Makerere University (a prestigious university in Uganda's capital, Kampala) and Duke University. Although the program still focuses on biomedical equipment support in hospitals, it has some key differences from our other programs.

First, English is widely spoken in Uganda, so there is no need for EWH participants to take language classes. Instead, they spend the extra class time designing equipment for low resource environments. The eight Duke students and four Makerere students have been divided into four teams, each with two Duke students and one Makerere student. Each team works on the usual Summer Institute tasks of repairing equipment and training staff on its use. Unique to the Uganda program is an additional task: each team must also develop a design project and present their prototype at the end of the program. We hope teams might continue their work on these designs after the program ends.

A second difference for the Uganda program is that the teams rotate through four different hospital placements in order to gain a broader sense of the Ugandan hospital system. All placements are within the city of Kampala, and the participants share a guesthouse for the entire two month program.

One of these placements is Katalemwa Cheshire Home, a rehabilitation center for children with disabilities. Staff at Katalemwa build unique assistive devices in a workshop on site. In collaboration with physical therapists on site, EWH participants have the opportunity to design and build devices to support patients' physical therapy. 

Praruj Kat and Lydia with the prototype of their design

Duke and and Makerere students have spent much of their time learning from each other. When Duke students first arrived, their Ugandan teammates taught the newcomers how to bargain at the market and cook local food, giving everyone the chance to get to know each other. Collaborating with Makerere staff and students has been very rewarding and we look forward to returning next year!

Lydia Akino BME student at Makerere University and participant in SI Uganda with a tool kit at Kabubbu Health Center

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