Monday, February 21st
I spoke with Hon. Sylvia Ssinabulya regarding the role of William Nabangi, Clinical Officer and Coordinator of the Village Health Teams (VHTs) in the recruitment of additional community health workers (CHWs) to complete the necessary number of VHTs. This will require an additional six men, ultimately resulting in a more balanced gender ratio of 22 men to 28 women (forming 25 VHTs). Additionally, I asked Hon. Sylvia Ssinabulya to confirm through William Nabangi that the recruited CHWs are all able, at the very least, to send an SMS text message to one another. Though at a later date they would be additionally screened, sending an SMS is a minimum requirement to be considered for training in the use of mobile health (mHealth) technology.
Later that afternoon, I had a meeting with Herbert Zake, Head of Corporate Affairs at Standard Chartered Bank, regarding potential sponsorship with Life for Mothers (LfM.) I explained the scope and nature of the pilot project and also gave him the informational DVD. Mr. Zake recommended a meeting with Annie Katuregye and Deus Turyatemba at 5pm, that day, regarding a potential alliance. At the meeting with Annie and Deus I listened to the extremely emotional story of her life. She is truly an amazing person: she is HIV-positive and her husband died of AIDS 20 years ago. She is also the mother of 3 HIV-negative children. She does extensive community work to sensitize people to the realities of those living with HIV/AIDS. She also works to combat stigma, discrimination and denial and urges women and men to get tested so, if they test positive, they can be treated as soon as possible. During her talks she frequently mentioned “HIV is not a death sentence,” a sentiment that I endorse. I introduced her to LfM’s pilot project and we are pursuing options as to whether the bank will support her efforts in working with LfM.
If you would like to read her story, click here: (link to follow)
Tuesday, February 22nd
Tuesday morning, I met with Dr. Francis Runumi, the Commissioner for Health Planning of the Ministry of Health. I gave him the letter he had requested the previous week regarding increasing drugs, supplies and equipment to Mwera Health Center IV (HC). The reason for this increase is that the pilot project would trigger increased demand for medical supplies beginning March 1st. He requested additional information regarding the project proposal and its budget.
Later that morning, I had a two-hour meeting at MTN’s headquarters in Kampala. This was my initial meeting with the person responsible for MTN’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), Ms. Rukh-Shana Namuyimba. I briefed her regarding the nature and scope of the pilot project and also showed her the informational DVD which we began to watch together when the MTN CEO, Mr. Themba Khumalo, came and greeted us. Firstly, he assured us that he is completely behind the project in principal, however he expressed concerns regarding potential interaction between our software applications and their phones. Therefore he asked Brian Kataka (our software designer) and myself to meet with MTN’s IT people. After he left, I continued to talk to Ms. Namuyimba regarding our project. Subsequently, a meeting was tentatively scheduled for Thursday, the 24th, for 10:30 am because Wednesday was a public holiday (mayoral races would be happening throughout the country, including in Kampala). She promised to confirm the meeting that afternoon or Thursday morning.
In the afternoon, I met with the newly re-elected Hon. Sylvia Ssinabulya, who assured me (now that the elections were over) that she would devote much more time to ensuring the pilot project’s success. She also promised to arrange a meeting with the respective 25 Village Chairpersons as well, again with the assistance of William Nabangi.
After my meeting with Sylvia, I met with Simon Kaggwa whom I met on previous trips to Uganda. Mr. Kaggwa is the host of a daily political show on Radio One, the premier Ugandan radio station. After I briefed him about Life for Mothers, he was very moved by the project and its significance, and recommended I meet Jaime Byarunhanga, the host of a weekly health show called Health Net, which airs Saturdays on Radio One. He set up a meeting for the two of us in order to discuss the possibility of my appearance on Mr. Byarunhanga’s show.
Wednesday, February 23rd
Despite the public holiday (mayoral races throughout the country), I was able to do some work, including interviewing Benjamin Byarugaba for the position of Program Manager. I then met with Dr. Hugh Cameron, Visiting Professor, Networks and Software Innovations, at Makerere University, regarding the software development and the timeline of the project. That same day, I also met with Brian Kitaka, the software designer who works with Dr. Cameron. Brian demonstrated the software prototype that will be used to screen CHWs for their mobile phone competency. He was also able to upload the prototype software onto my Motorola phone and I was able to access the form on my own.
Finally, I connected with Ms. Namuyimba who told me that since it was a public holiday she could not confirm the meeting and that she’d do so the following morning.
Thursday, February 24th
Thursday morning Ms. Rukh-Shana confirmed the meeting would take place at MTN headquarters at 10:30 am. Brian Tataka and myself arrived there and I gave a presentation regarding LfM’s pilot project and its specific requirements regarding the telecom aspect of the project. Brian described how the software application would be used and the IT people requested specifications for the server and the phone sets. We promised to supply them later that afternoon. I sent them to Rukh-Shana and she was able to confirm receipt later that day. However, she stated she was required to brief Mr. Khumalo regarding the pilot project, but since he was out of the country she would have to wait for his return.
Friday, February 25th
I had a 7 am meeting with Dr. Olive Sentumbwe-Mugisa, Family Health and Population Advisor from World Health Organization (WHO) Uganda, whom I met numerous times in the past. I informed her of the status of the pilot project and also gave her the informational DVD. She stated she would be able to conduct a 2-day workshop on maternal/reproductive health with the VHTs and Health Staff at the HC IV in Mwera. I also mentioned our need to recruit a Medical Officer and a midwife; Dr. Olive said she would assist in their recruitment.
Late in the afternoon, I had an extensive meeting with Jaime Byarunhanga, Managing Director of Mystic Multimedia and the host of Health Net on Radio One. We went through the informational DVD and the objectives of the pilot project. He agreed to host me on the next show on Saturday, March 5th, in advance of national and global events surrounding International Women’s Day on March 8th.
Today, Saturday, February 26th
I went over to Mulago Hospital (have not visited in a year or two) and had my blood pressure checked. It was normal!