Week 4 – Immunizations, Projects, and Good Thoughts of Home!

Week 4 was filled with field work and rich experiences. We spent Monday and Tuesday at Namatala health center and Wednesday, Thursday, Friday at Bukasakya health center. The busy week continued through the weekend as we each worked on a project proposal. My project proposal specifically is the Knowledge, Attitudes, Practices, and Uses of Pesticides Among Farmers in Mbale District, Uganda. Although this is the project I’ll be focusing on and developing, the other students and I will all be working together through all the projects.  We will be out in the field together, which is great for maximizing our learning. The other projects focus on medical waste management, retention and adherence among HIV+ patients who are pregnant, and retention and adherence among HIV+ patients who are adolescents.

We had the opportunity to help with HPV immunizations for girls at the local schools with the Namatala health center. We went with the nurse from Namatala to different schools and met with the headmaster or headmistress, who helped connect us with the girls for immunizations. I learned that immunizations are mandatory in Uganda and do not require parental consent. Furthermore, it appeared convenient to conduct immunizations at schools, surpassing barriers that families may face in trying to vaccinate their children, such as time, transportation, etc. We recorded information for each child in a logbook, then the nurse vaccinated them. I was surprised by how eager and willing most of the kids were to get a shot. But of course, there were always one or two who weren’t thrilled to get a shot. 

The rest of the week was spent at Bukasakya health center where we learned about different programs they had going on, especially with the community. We had an opportunity to help a local community work on their barhole (water source). Although I’d say our help was minimal compared to everything they did. Everyone, including community members, village health teams (VHTs), and health workers all joined hands to complete the barhole – the community is so close knit! We concluded week 4 with learning about house-to-house health inspections by attending them with VHTs, who emphasized the importance of beginning with positive accomplishments of community members, such as the achievement of building a latrine, then following up improvements for it.

When not in the field, I’ve been working on my proposal for the pesticide project which everyone has been super helpful with, including the Environmental Health faculty all the way back in San Diego! I am so thankful for all the help I’m receiving locally. But it was also so nice to be reminded of the support from home when my adviser, department chair, and other professors all stepped in to work with me on the project.

Looking forward to starting the pesticide project and participating in the others’ projects in the coming weeks. 

-Laila

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