Category Archives: Volunteer

Can traditional and western medicine co-exist?

By Madeleine Finney-Brown

I was recently given the opportunity to meet with a traditional healer in the village of Mukono. As a medical student, I was interested to hear about how he diagnosed his patients, and what treatments he used. I was also keen to find out about his opinion of western medicine, particularly (as relevant to the work of CTPH) regarding contraception.

the Traditional Healer

Upon arriving at the traditional healer’s home, we were warmly welcomed and shown to a building where he sees his patients and keeps his medicines. I was surprised to learn that many of his examination and diagnostic techniques were not so different from my own! giving an immunisation to an infant in the Batwa village

Although I didn’t recognize most of the plants he showed us, I wondered if many were infact ingredients in the medicines we use, as I know many western medications contain natural products. My concern with the traditional healer’s herbs is not their effectiveness, but their potency (amount required to produce an effect of given intensity), as quantities are much more difficult to regulate.

 

When asked about contraceptive, the old man replied that he had two traditional methods, but that these days he more commonly recommended conventional contraceptives- referring women to his wife (who is, in-fact, a CTPH CCHV), and speaking with the men himself.

MPH students Stella and Cait with Stephen in the lab

All-in-all, it was a very interesting visit, and I certainly feel there is a role for traditional healers. I feel that traditional and western medicine should be collaborative, and I certainly will carry this idea forth into my future practice as a doctor.

 

 

 

 

Joseph asking the survey questions to a woman from Kishanda in Bujengwe parish

 

A scientific study on a fact finding mission on what CTPH does on the ground by Makerere University students

Makerere University is a leading Institution of higher learning in Uganda. Students doing Masters in IDM and their lecturers came for a two day scientific study on a fact finding mission on what CTPH does on the ground. The students and lecturers were joined by among others from CTPH, Stephen Rubanga a founder and Program Officer, Animal Health Technical, David Matsiko Field Office Manager and Alex Ngabirano PHE Field Assistant. The Makerere University Lecturers were Dr. Sam Mujalija, Dr. Kazoora Herbert Brian and seven students.

Mzee Gongo on the water source

Stephen gave a presentation and over view of CTPH activities and stated the mission and Vision of CTPH. In Stephen’s presentation, he talked about why and when CTPH was founded singling out Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka who was working as a veterinary doctor before she founded CTPH as a hard working and visionary person.
The team had a visit to the park offices. Olivia Biira (Warden Community Bwindi Impenetrable National Park) gave a presentation to the team.

Olivia Biira explaining how CTPH works with UWA

In her presentation she talked about CTPH partnership with Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and how CTPH addresses the problem of disease transmission between people wildlife and livestock, creates awareness among the people living around the park and how it is controlling population pressure by practicing family planning around the park. She thanked CTPH for collecting and analyzing gorilla feacal samples and training rangers on sample collection. She also thanked CTPH for giving out livestock to the volunteers which is improving community livelihoods. The students were very happy to hear this.
The team visited Bahati Daudi. Bahati Daudi demonstrate using a flip chart

Bahati is a Community Conservation Health Volunteer from Kanyashande village in Mukono parish. Bahati demonstrated using CTPH flip charts how he teaches the community. He used the model of the bad and good family. In addition, Bahati demonstrates how he teaches people to put on condoms by using the carved mode
The team went to Bujengwe parish.

Hope Matsiko giving out an injection to the client

We first visited the home of Hope Matsiko where she demonstrated to the team how she administers family planning methods using Depo-Provera and how she refers those with side effects and those who want long term and permanent methods. The visiting team was very happy for this visit.

Stephen Rubanga explain how the livestock project for the volunteers started and its importance

Volunteering at CTPH has been one of the most rewarding and exciting experiences

I began working with CTPH in September 2011, as a marketing and development volunteer through the American Jewish World Service Volunteer Corps program. Before moving to Uganda I worked in international development in the US for about 2 years before finally making it to the African continent, and being here has by far surpassed my expectations. Volunteering at CTPH has been one of the most rewarding and exciting experiences I’ve ever had, and has made me more likely than ever to want to continue working on international issues.

1Gorilla research clinic new site

The work I’ve done for CTPH has been both interesting and dynamic. I was fortunate enough to come at a time when CTPH was considering its long-term strategic goals, and was able to support staff in their process of deciding where the organization wants to be in a year, three years, five years, and so on. Since then I’ve run a grant-writing workshop for CTPH staff, worked to improve our online presence by creating a Flickr and Twitter account, drafted brochures and newsletters, assisted in writing grants, worked on content for our new website (which we will be launching soon!), and helped out with the annual report and other donor-documents. I’ve been able to sit in on a number of meetings with partner organizations and stakeholders, as well as contribute some ideas on how to improve operations and grow CTPH’s model. I feel so fortunate to have been able to participate in such a meaningful way.

One of the most unusual and exciting aspects of CTPH is its ability to integrate numerous programs and approaches across sectors: whether working to achieve biodiversity conservation in some of Africa’s most beautiful protected areas through improving public health for some of the poorest people on the content; improving people’s livelihoods to decrease their dependency on tourism; or working to blend nonprofit-type philanthropy with innovative business practices, CTPH does a little bit of almost everything without diffusing its overall goals.

Daniela and Sam, a community conservation health volunteer at the village aquaponics projec

The village aquaponics project

Part of what drew me to accept a placement at CTPH was its unique mission: control the spread of diseases between humans, wildlife and livestock, thus conserving natural resources and biodiversity while simultaneously improving health for very poor, rural communities. In November I was fortunate enough to visit both Queen Elizabeth National Park and Bwindi Impenetrable National Forest, two of the areas where we work, to observe a family-planning training for our network of community health volunteers. Although I was already impressed by CTPH’s integrated health and conservation model, seeing their program in action gave me whole new insights into the success of their programs. I got to observe two days of training for community conservation health volunteers in Buhoma District near Bwindi, and it was both impressive and moving to see this large network of people working together to improve conditions for their communities.

On my trip, I also got to visit our gorilla health research clinic, the village Aquaponics project and the site for our new Gorilla Conservation Camp and Gorilla Health Center.

Working with the dedicated CTPH staff has also been an amazing experience. Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka is an inspiring mentor and leader, and it’s clear she has been head of the pack when it comes to combining conservation and development. I’m also continually impressed by the high quality of work that my colleagues and co-worker produce and have gained an enormous amount of knowledge from them both about the institutional structures in Uganda and about the sectors of conservation and public health specifically.

Community Conservation Health volunteer training on family planning in Kisoro districtKisoro volunteers receiving training on family planning

Beyond the enormous professional and intellectual opportunities accorded me in my time at CTPH, I feel a profound gratitude at having had a chance to live in this beautiful country and interact with its amazing people. I will miss Uganda and CTPH and hope that they are able to continue their impressive work for years to come!