The International Outreach Program is a program run through the St Joseph’s healthcare system, which is designed to increase the capacity for health care delivery in developing nations. Most importantly, what it does right now is take selected trainees from countries in the developing world, including Haiti, Guyana and Uganda, and it brings them to Canada for focused training for a period between three months and a year.
We sat down recently with Dr. Charles Lugero from Uganda to chat about his training here in Hamilton. Joining us was Dr. Nicholas Valettas, doctor Lugero’s clinical supervisor. Here is the transcript of our interview.
Dr. Charles Lugero came to Hamilton, Ontario from Uganda in 2016 with the International Outreach Program of St. Joseph’s Health System. His 12-month Clinical Fellowship in cardiology at McMaster University and Hamilton General Hospital will give him the academic knowledge and clinical skills he needs to save lives back in Uganda. He will also teach medical students and doctors what he has learned.
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Dr. John Mundaka is visiting Niagara Health in St. Catharines, Ontario with the International Outreach Program for an elective in obstetrics and gynecology. On his return to Uganda, Dr. Mundaka will put into practice what he has learned, and pass on knowledge and clinical skills to fellow residents at Makerere University, Kampala. Women and children will benefit from the skills he learns at McMaster University and Niagara Health, thanks to the donors whose gifts brought Dr. Mundaka to Canada for medical training.
Dr. Joshua Ssebuliba, Ugandan OB GYN Resident, Niagara 2016 with International Outreach Program.
This is what donating a doctor looks like — a life saved. Doctor Anthony Batte, right, inserts a catheter so that a child can receive life-saving kidney dialysis.
This child, who is in critical condition, will live thanks to the training that Dr. Batte received in Hamilton, Canada, when he studied here with the International Outreach Program. Dr. Batte spent a year at McMaster University and area hospitals learning pediatric nephrology.
Now, back home in Kampala, Uganda, Dr. Batte is putting his academic knowledge and new clinical skills to work. saving the lives of children who have kidney failure. That’s the power of donating a doctor.
Why should you donate a doctor to a developing country? Here are 10 reasons.
- In many developing countries, there is only one doctor for every 100,000 people. That’s like the City of Hamilton having just five doctors.
- More than 400 million people worldwide lack access to a doctor. The majority of these people live in 57 of the poorest countries.
- Because of the doctor shortage in developing countries, millions of people die annually from medical conditions that are preventable and treatable. These include measles, tuberculosis and complications of pregnancy and childbirth.
- Training one doctor at McMaster University and area hospitals has an exponential effect on healthcare back home in their developing country. Graduates of our program train other doctors, who then train other doctors.
- Bringing a doctor to Hamilton or Niagara Region for training through the International Outreach Program gives them a unique experience. Other programs offer observerships only. Our program delivers complete, hands-on training.
- Donating a piece of medical equipment to a developing country is a fine gesture — until that equipment breaks. But donating a doctor makes an impact on health for multiple generations into the future.
- Doctors who graduate from our program return home with leadership, communication, negotiation and teaching skills that help them generate lasting change in their communities.
- Donating a doctor saves lives. One obstetrician who trained with us returned to Uganda and quickly changed the way high-risk mothers were monitored after they gave birth. Her initiative saved around 130 mothers lives in the first year, and has saved around 1,000 lives to date.
- Donating a doctor to a developing country gives them what they need. Not what we in so-called “developed countries” think they need, but what they tell us, year after year, they need.
- Donating a doctor gives you the largest return on your donated dollar. Your investment grows exponentially as your gift restores health and saves lives in families, then communities, then regions, then the entire country.