PHILADELPHIA (February 26, 2014)—This month, Drexel University College of Computing & Informatics (CCI) assistant professors Deborah Turner and Michelle Rogers traveled to Uganda’s Rotary Club of Kampala North in Kampala, Uganda to join a vocational training team (VTT) of medical experts in the field of obstetrics & gynecology, pediatrics & neonatology, informatics, nursing, midwifery, public health, human trafficking, and global health from Drexel University as part of the Maternal and Child Health Care Education Project.
The VTT also included Drexel University College of Medicine researchers Dr. Owen Montgomery, Dr. Gregg Alleyne, Laniece Coleman, Betsy Batejan, Dr. Yanick Vibert, and Drexel College of Nursing and Health Professions’ Donna Sabella.
The Maternal and Child Health Care Education Project was originally designed to provide vocational training teams—traveling to Kampala, Uganda and Philadelphia, Pa.—to establish a network between community health centers and Makerere University, and to foster a professional linkage between Makarere University and Drexel University. CCI researchers extended the project to consider information issues involved in health education.
The team—visiting from January 26 to February 14, 2014—was able to assess how best to share their knowledge and expertise with their Ugandan counterparts from Makerere University, Mulago Hospital, and selected rural health centers to promote the training of health workers at community level, in part by using information and communication technology (ICT) for distance learning, all in support of the survival of mothers and newborns (neonates).
"I believe we, as information scientists, proved a worthy addition to an interdisciplinary team of health care professionals in finding ways to reduce the maternal mortality rate in Uganda,” says Turner. “During our Rotary International and Drexel University funded trip to the capital city Kampala, Jinga (the source of the Nile River), and adjacent villages our initial assessments revealed that a number of interventions can be introduced to facilitate a more effective flow of information—for both medical records and patient education—needed to improve overall maternal and child health country-wide.”
CCI researchers met with representatives from the National Library of Uganda, the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA), the Uganda Community Library Association (UgCLA, with its 106 member libraries), and the U.S. Embassy in Uganda to begin exploring how to ensure this three-year project would result in sustained change. “We were able to identify that there is synergy between CCI and the Makerere University College of Computing and Information Sciences. Recently they have undergone a merger with their School of Library and Information Science,” says Rogers. “We also discussed the potential for future research collaborations including with existing health projects and their information technology faculty.”
Vocational training teams (VTT) are groups of professionals who travel to another country either to learn more about their profession or to teach local professionals about a particular field. VTTs take the Global Study Exchange concept of enabling young professionals to observe their profession in another country a step further by offering participants the opportunity to use their skills to help others.
In total, the visiting team constituted nine technical/medical experts and researchers led by Rotarian Ronald Smith as the team leader (a former Drexel adjunct faculty member). A return visit to Drexel University by the Ugandan team of technical/medical experts led by Rotarian Deo Sekimpi is scheduled for May 2014.
As part of this project, the VTT team has held 4 medical camps at Namalemba Health Centre II, Namungalwe Health Centre III, Kasangati Health Centre IV, and Komamboga Health Centre III where over two thousand clients have been attended to for cervix and/or breast cancer screenings; counselling for and provision of family planning services; HIV screening; high blood pressure and diabetes screening; pediatric care, growth monitoring and immunization of children; and general out-patient medical care. Moreover, Drexel team members helped identify potential collaboration and research opportunities in Africa related to maternal and child health and other areas of focus.
This mission is supported by the Rotary Club of Kampala North (being the local host), the Rotary Club of Blue Bell in Philadelphia, Drexel University, Rotary Districts D9211 (Formerly 9200), D7430, D7450, D7500 and The Rotary Foundation. The Project Value is $80,300 of which $38,500 is contributed by the Rotary Foundation.
The Rotary Club Kampala North has previously partnered with other Rotary Clubs to provide humanitarian services, such as the Maternal and Child Health Care Education Project, to communities in Uganda. For the last 3 years in a row, the Club has sponsored “The Gift of Life Project” intended to equip the Uganda Heart Institute at Mulago with technical capacity to conduct open heart surgeries for Ugandan children. Under this project sponsored by Rotary Club of Kampala North with Rotary Club of Greenfield (USA), Rotary Club of Kampala North, Rotary Club of Makindye and Rotary Club of Ntinda, teams of heart surgeons have conducted open heart surgeries and trained staff at UHI in December 2011, 2012 and 2013.
About Drexel University's College of Computing & Informatics
Drexel’s new College of Computing & Informatics (CCI), founded in 2013, serves as a hub for multi-disciplinary computing and informatics activities by uniting the faculty, professional staff, and students from Drexel’s former College of Information Science and Technology (the iSchool), the Department of Computer Science in the College of Engineering and the Department of Computing and Security Technology in Goodwin College of Professional Studies. CCI comprises 80 faculty members, including 11 recipients of prestigious CAREER awards from the National Science Foundation, and approximately 2,200 students in graduate and undergraduate programs. U.S.News & World Report’s 2014 edition of “America’s Best Graduate Schools” ranked Drexel No. 1 in health librarianship, No. 3 in information systems, and No. 6 in digital librarianship. The College is the home to the National Science Foundation’s Center for Visual and Decision Informatics, and is the only NSF center focused on big data analytics. For more information, please visit http://www.drexel.edu/cci.
About Makerere University
Makerere University is the key non-Rotary partner in Uganda, targeting health worker training in support of community service for maternal and neonatal health. It is one of the top (4th ranked) universities in Africa; with its College of Health Sciences contributing substantially to scientific research and community service.
About Rotary International and the Rotary Club of Kampala North
Rotary International is a volunteer organization made up of over 1.2 million business and professional leaders in 34,000 clubs in more than 200 countries worldwide, who provide humanitarian service and help to build goodwill and peace in the world. Rotary is involved in a number of humanitarian activities, health being one of the key interventions supported. Rotary Club of Kampala North is one of the leading Rotary Clubs in Rotary District 9211, having been involved in a number of successful projects targeting the neediest communities in Uganda.