A Trip to the Uganda Cancer Institute

This morning we got up early to meet with the Pharmacist of the Uganda Cancer Institute (UGI), Benjamin at 8am.  We were a little late because we had a hard time finding the center amidst all of the buildings of the Mulago Hospital Complex.  By the way, we do a lot of walking here. It is a 30min walk between Makerere Pharmacy School and Mulago Hospital and if we are going towards our guest house on the Mulago campus, then we are going uphill.  The UCI is at the upper end of the campus way on top of the hill and has a great view of the city of Kampala.  Benjamin is fully of energy and excitement and so much fun to talk to about the UCI.  He has worked tirelessly to improve pharmacy services at the center and his passion for helping the patients and assuring safe and effective chemotherapy use is clearly evident.  His chemotherapy mixing pharmacy was small but well organized, clean, and had up to date equipment- see the photos (the extra guy on the left is a pharmacy student from Univ of British Columbia).  In the morning we were invited to attend the morning conference where a woman who has been studying the history of the UCI since 2009 gave a presentation. It was really interesting to hear about how much progress has been made in the care of cancer patients over the years.  Dr. Burkitt, the name sake of Burkitt’s Lymphoma, a common childhood cancer in Uganda that is caused by the HPV8 virus, practiced here.  Dr. Ziegler brought the first chemotherapy here to treat it and found that if caught early, the response to drugs was remarkable. The healthcare providers of the UCI have overcome many obstacles over the years but their dedication to fighting cancer through research and patient care has persisted and has made a difference in many lives.

Fun Stuff:  A visit to a the Garden City Mall seemed a lot like the U.S.- there was a food court and lots of shops.  But, when you go to eat at the food court, you don’t go to the counters to order.  Instead, you sit at a table and representatives from each food vendor pounce on your table and hand you about 7 different menus. They hover until you decide what you want then take your order.  If you look like you are looking a kabobs on one menu, a different restaurant rep will point out the kabobs on her menu trying to get your business.  There was an athletic shoe store with all the national brands we have in the U.S. and with similar price tags (or even more expensive)- but they look a lot worse. A pair of Nike’s was priced at 450,000 Uganda Schillings (about $180). I wonder who can buy these….

About kbohan

Professor and Founding Chair, Department of Pharmacy Practice Binghamton University School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences Binghamton, NY USA
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