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6th Aug


Ophthalmology Medical Elective, Uganda, James Sterrey

Attn; Nepean Medical Association.

With assistance of the Nepean Medical Association I was able to travel to Kampala, Uganda, to complete a medical elective within the Department of Ophthalmology at Mulago Hospital. This portion of my elective term afforded many ‘firsts’ for me; my first time to Africa, my first time observing an array of Neglected Tropical Diseases of the eye and for the first time I felt like a genuinely useful member of the team due to appropriate responsibilities allocated to me in the eye clinic. Most of the news that comes out of Africa is bad to a lay person, considering that I endeavoured to attain a holistic glimpse of Uganda’s health care situation to better understand the complex nature of health care delivery in developing nations. All of the pathology I observed was much advanced upon what I have seen in Australia and this seemed to reflect a cultural attitude of some Ugandan’s to solicit the assistance of traditional therapies prior to hospital/clinic based care and a bleaker financial situation which precluded some patients from receiving peri-operative medications and therapies that would have preserved sight. However, given the trying circumstances of a community subtly suspicious of traditional Western health care, coupled to pan-resource challenges the staff of the ophthalomology department demonstrated a creative tenacity towards solving problems and delivering the best care available for each patient setting. I greatly admired this attribute of my supervisors and wondered whether such ingenuity is a fading talent in the skillset of doctors trained in developed nations. I look forward to completing my medical education and junior doctor years with such elective experience under my belt, I feel that I’ll be more appreciative of our health care system’s resources and better able to creatively solve problems when they manifest. I also look forward to returning to East Africa with an advanced skillset in the future. Thanks again to the NMA for helping facilitate this experience, I’d also like to express my gratitude to my Ugandan supervisors and those in Australia who have encouraged me.

James Sterrey

First day at Mulago, prehistoric ophthalmology equipment on the bench.

James Sterrey

A weekend on safari, Eastern Grey rhino pictured in background.

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