16 September 2015: My week has been productive with lot of very interesting meetings. Today I’ll talk about my Monday meetings. In the morning I had a chance to sit down and talk with one of the Pharmacists at the Infectious Diseases Institute, Eva Laker, to learn more about their mission and her day-to-day work. We had met briefly during my visit a year ago, but this time I wanted to really figure out if IDI would be a place that my Wilkes Pharmacy Students could rotate through when we come in April 2016.
IDI serves as a referral center for difficult to treat patients with HIV/AIDS. Most regular HIV care can be managed by basic government health care centers of level 3 and above or any private hospital. The HIV drugs are free to patients at all centers. Some centers provide more services than others such as The Aids Support Organization (TASO), which my students and I have worked with ever since I started the Global Health Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience Rotation. Basically it seems like patients can choose to get their care wherever they prefer, but many will choose the facility where they first get their screening and diagnosis. IDI is a high-level research center and this is one of their primary focuses but they also provide clinical care for complicated patients. These would be those who are failing first-line therapy or those with co-existing kidney or liver problems or other diseases that affect the management of HIV.
One of the things that is important to me when I’m figuring out new partners to work with is that we create a mutually beneficial relationship. If Eva and her partners at IDI are willing to work with my pharmacy students and teach them about HIV and the challenges of healthcare, then I want my students to provide something of benefit to them. Many times this is done in the form of presentations to help with their professional development or some small project. Together, Eva and I came up with the perfect idea. As I mentioned, they see patients with kidney and liver problems so my students and I will present a talk on how to manage the common HIV treatment regimens for patients with these conditions and then we will also do a small medical chart review to identify whether there has been a problem with the dosing of medications in any of their patients. If so, we will try to work with Eva to figure out a process to get the Pharmacist involved to help with drug dosing on these patients when they come to the clinic for follow-up visits. After my talk with Eva, another pharmacist, Mohammed Lamorde, who specifically researches the Pharmacokinetics of HIV drugs, joined us. This is the field of pharmacy that investigates drug concentrations in the body and whether or not other drugs the patient is taking can affect these levels. Anyway, we had a great conversation and he listened to some of the research ideas I have had to study processes that could help improve the treatment of Malaria and bacterial infectious diseases in Uganda. He gave me lots of good ideas and I hope that perhaps one day we can collaborate on one of these proposals.
Later Monday afternoon, I got a chance to meet and talk with the new Principle Pharmacist at Mulago National Referral Hospital, Martha. Ever since I’ve been coming to Uganda, there has been an Interim Principle Pharmacist, so I am thrilled that the position has been filled with an extremely competent woman. I was impressed with her desire and plans to improve the pharmacy processes and to work towards implementation of more Pharmaceutical Care activities on the wards so that patients can truly benefit from the Pharmacist being involved in their care.