Articles and Case Studies

Unforgettable Experience in Uganda

11 Dec 2018

uganda teammed

TeamMED is a student-led organisation that partners with local and international initiatives to contribute to health care on a global scale.

Photo: The team setting up the pathology laboratory before a busy day at the clinic.

The Uganda initiative has been running for six years in partnership with Help Us Grow (a non-profit organisation in Australia) and the Suubi Community Centre in Uganda.

In January 2018, we travelled to Uganda in a team of five medical students as part of the yearly Monash University TeamMED Uganda trip. During our month-long trip, we helped run clinics in the Suubi Centre as well as dental hygiene workshops for local children.

After several busy months of fundraising and sourcing medical supplies, our team left for Uganda on New Year’s Eve 2017. We spent the first few days of our trip on safari and immersing ourselves in the Ugandan culture – taking in local sights, markets, and enjoying local foods. We then travelled for most of a day to Lubanda, a small village in the Lwengo district to the southwest of Uganda. The Suubi Centre has been providing medical care to the local community for about ten years, and this was where we were to start our trip.

The Suubi Centre

The Suubi Community Centre provides general care, family planning, and obstetric care. For the duration of the TeamMED visit, the clinic can also run community health clinic days. During these yearly TeamMED clinics, patients receive a blood pressure check, medical consultation, pathology testing and medications. Our team’s fundraising covers the cost of these clinics, so patients are not required to pay for treatment. This is especially beneficial for the local community as it encourages members to be actively engaged in their health care.

After a warm welcome from the wonderful staff at Suubi, we almost immediately got to work unpacking and organising 70+ kg of medical supplies we had brought from Australia. There were also boxes and boxes of medications to organise in preparation for the 2018 clinic opening the following day. Needless to say, it was a very busy and rewarding first day.

Clinical work

We ran four clinic days at Suubi and two outreach clinics. The outreach days were a special highlight – the entire clinic was mobilised, and we set up in even more remote villages to run clinics for those who were unable to travel to the Suubi Centre. On average, we found ourselves seeing, testing and treating around 40 patients a day, working alongside the excellent staff at Suubi.

The team assisted local staff by:

  • helping enrol the patients and taking blood pressures – we quickly learned common phrases in Lugandan, the local dialect (and then relearned them with the proper pronunciation!)
  • dispensing medications and explaining to patients how and when to take them (also in Lugandan)
  • taking blood and performing pathology tests in the ‘laboratory’ (which was really the largest available room with all the lab equipment).

After two weeks, we said our goodbyes to the Suubi Centre.

uganda suubi centre

Photo: TeamMED and Suubi Centre staff on the last day of clinic. 

We then headed to Kampala to work with the Centre for Youth Driven Development Initiatives (CFYDDI), a grassroots organisation that runs community initiatives in Uganda such as public libraries and health promotion. With the enthusiastic CFYDDI team, we travelled to different communities each day to run dental hygiene sessions. We found that the most effective way to promote dental health was through singing and playing games. In the end, the team had just as much fun as the local children!

uganda dental kids

Photo: Children at the CFYDDI gathered to learn about dental hygiene.

A rewarding learning experience

Throughout the trip, we saw medical situations we had not experienced in Australia. While many health issues facing Ugandans are like those in Australia, such as hypertension and diabetes, we also came across preventable diseases like typhoid and malaria on a regular basis. Furthermore, lack of access to health care affects the burden of disease in these rural communities, leading to patients presenting with significant disease far later than they might in Australia. We found our work highly rewarding as we were able to make a tangible difference to the health of these communities, but there were times which were confronting and incredibly sad.

Ultimately, we had an unforgettable experience. As a team, we learned invaluable lessons and skills that will stay with us for many years to come. We were welcomed into a culture different to our own and forged strong relationships with inspirational staff in Uganda.  

We thank MDA National for supporting our mission to improve health outcomes around the globe.

sarah mundayMs Sarah Munday (MDA National Member)
Year 4 MBBS, Monash University

amy yangMs Amy Yang (MDA National Member)
Year 5 MBBS, Monash University

Are you planning to participate in a fundraising activity in support of a medical or healthcare related cause?

If yes, just send an email to MDA National’s Corporate Social Responsibility team at we can consider sponsoring you.

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