Theresa Ermer is a German medical student from FAU. This May she spent a month at ACCESS in Nakaseke, Uganda as part of her clinical electives.
“ACCESS in Uganda does not only provide health care but promotes community development through a broad spectrum of projects.
Drs. James, Richard and Alex guided me and three American students through this very diverse rotation. At Nakaseke District Hospital, we saw patients in the ART (antiretroviral therapy) and NCD (non-communicable diseases) clinic, and assisted with deliveries on the labor ward and in the operating theater. On the wards we encountered and discussed many conditions that are much less common in Germany, such as malaria, HIV, cryptococcal meningitis, hepatitis, sickle cell disease and malnutrition. During a training on viral hemorrhagic fevers such as Ebola, I even got to try on an Ebola protection suit.
Dr. James is the heart and soul of the Lifecare clinic at ACCESS. Through his extreme kindness and dedication towards his patients he really has become a role model for me. Through ACCESS we also got in contact with the village communities: we visited families whose children receive guidance and school materials through the OVC (orphans and vulnerable children) program, participated in a family planning outreach, helped to teach children in the preschool, and got to know the “Dream girls” – a group of HIV-negative girls in the villages who act as multiplicators in their communities. It was wonderful that we had had some lessons in the local language Luganda – even just saying a few words in my rudimentary Luganda really helped me connect with the people so much easier.
One of the most interesting parts of my time in Nakaseke, was being involved with teaching and training patients and community health workers in the context of a research project on NCDs funded by Else Kroener-Fresenius Stiftung. It was eye-opening to be faced with the concepts of disease inhabitants of rural Uganda have developed and it was sometimes challenging for me to find comprehensible answers to their questions. After this global health rotation in Uganda, I really understand the importance of epidemiological research on NCDs in developing countries as a basis to design treatment concepts adapted to the needs of the population.
I cannot thank the program and the people at ACCESS enough for all their kindness and dedication to the communities they serve and also to us visiting students. My time in Uganda did not only make a professional, but also a very personal impression on me. Weebale nnyo! – Thank you so much for teaching me and for opening up your hearts to let me be a part of the ACCESS family!”