Building a Sustainable Model for Healthcare Systems in Rural Africa

Israeli Medicine on the Equator – IME. The program has been operating since 2005 in the Kiboga district, one of the poorest districts in Uganda, located 120 km northwest of the capital city Kampala. IME is based on voluntary medical teams, typically a group of three to four doctors and nurses who have undergone training and are volunteering for approximately three months or more. During their time in Uganda, they work with the local medical personnel to provide medical care across the district, implementing the non-communicable diseases (NCDs) project to achieve the pre-determined development goals. The project collaborates with the Kiboga district health authorities, e.g. the District Health Officer (DHO), the Kiboga District Hospital, and clinical officers at community health centers. Over the years, more than two hundred Israeli and international medical personnel have volunteered in the project, improving healthcare delivery and standards in rural Uganda. 

It is a unique project in the Israeli development landscape for its emphasis on sustainable capacity building of local communities that have been taking place for over 15 years. 

“Israeli Medicine on the Equator” strives to develop a healthy and knowledgeable society equipped with the tools to reduce the burden of typical tropical diseases, advance preventable NCDs, and improve treatment and quality of life for people living with NCDs. We are on a mission to enhance health, medical performance, and sustainability in the Kiboga regional and other rural areas in Uganda and elsewhere in Africa. Thus by introducing a replicable model based on Israeli knowledge and expertise. 

The ‘Kiboga’ Model
The “Kiboga” model has been developed by “Israel Medicine on the Equator” based on the substantial field experience and comprehensive understanding of the primary healthcare challenges in Rural Uganda. The local public health system of Kiboga district serves a population of over 400,000 from Kiboga and the nearby communities.

The system includes one hospital with 120 admission beds, one large health center, and 18 smaller centers around the district. Only six doctors are currently employed in these facilities (all working part-time), and the community health centers are run by nurses and clinical officers with basic training. This region’s public system lacks resources and trained personnel and is characterized by rural inaccessibility to primary healthcare facilities.

NCDs, which have become highly prevalent in rural Africa, present multiple challenges,
as the equipment and medication required for their treatment are scarce. Within this context, together with the common infectious diseases, chronic NCDs overload the local healthcare system. Local staff lack training, which could result in patients not receiving correct information regarding their conditions. Hence, we work with local medical staff to raise the population’s awareness to NCDs to improve the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of diseases such as diabetes, cancer, hypertension, and heart diseases.

The “Kiboga” model emphasizes our local partners’ empowerment and capacity building in the medical sector, i.e. eight regional health centres and the Kiboga District Hospital. The
voluntary medical teams engage in community outreach in remote villages across Kiboga, training staff and building long-term capacities among local teams. In conjunction with conducting extensive clinical activities, our volunteers also implement advanced medical technologies, e.g. telemedicine, for better treatment outcomes.

Since 2017, our voluntary medical teams have been paving the way by improving and facilitating access to healthcare throughout the district and healthcare outcomes through patient education and awareness. In 2017, we opened a unique diabetes clinic in Kiboga’s hospital with branches in other health centers across the district. This clinic is the first of its kind in the Ugandan public health system with its multidisciplinary approach and emphasis on rural accessibility.
Following the success of this clinic, we are now expanding into tackling hypertension, malnutrition, and cervical cancer. The “Kiboga” model can be replicated in other Ugandan districts and elsewhere in Africa, focusing on regional healthcare systems. From providing perinatal care to treating HIV, cancer, malnutrition and other NCDs, the Israeli volunteers are saving lives, contributing to a better healthcare system in rural Uganda, and advocating the diplomatic relations between Israel and Uganda. 

  1. A set of MoUs have been agreed upon between the Ugandan government, other Ugandan Medical associations and Platforms and IME and Israeli Medical Associations. Among other issues, these agreements incorporate placements of Ugandan doctors in Israeli hospitals for experience and training.
  2. The Interdisciplinary Diabetes Clinic was opened in an official ceremony in which the Ugandan Minister of Health and the Israeli Ambassador to Uganda participated. The clinic has treated more than 2000 patients in over 10,000 visits and is expanding with government support far beyond this substantial diplomatic achievement.
  3. Medical criteria were adapted for measurement, evaluation and replication of the model to other Ugandan districts and locations in Africa.
  4. With the cooperation of Israeli medical start-ups, we introduced innovative telemedicine technologies in rural Uganda.
  5. A delegation of chief Israeli physicians and health systems managers was hosted in Uganda to encourage further collaboration.
  6. Official negotiations have been initiated with the Ugandan Health Ministry to sign a MoU to further promote the expansion of our activities to achieve our long-term goals.
  7. A training internship for the chief nurse at the children’s department, Kiboga District Hospital, was sponsored by Sheba Hospital and Mashav.
  8. An ongoing supply of medical protective items has been supplied to the hospital and to our teams on the ground since March 2020.

In addition to medical and nursing work, IME volunteers and the Topaz Association regularly raise medical
equipment (provided as donations), provide equipment and medicines, provide humanitarian assistance and
support for particularly poor patients, including purchasing food for basic subsistence, children’s clothing,
and more. During the sixteen years that the project has existed, tens of thousands of patients have been
treated by the Israeli teams, and many of them owe their lives to these volunteers’ professional and
dedicated activities.

The project is considered Israel’s flagship in community medical care in a poor rural area and a public
hospital that is regarded as extremely poor in infrastructure and professional resources. The humanitarian
program is supported by Solel Boneh International (SBI) and the Center for International Cooperation in
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MASHAV) and partnerships with the Israel Medical Association, the
Ugandan Ministry of Health, and other bodies. Private donations mainly fund the project even though the
COVID19 epidemic has significantly reduced its contributions to the venture, with a planned budget for
2022 of $ 110,000.

For further information, don't hesitate to get in touch with our board members:

Dr. Efraim Halperin – Senior consultant – IME , efyh@zahav.net.il

Prof. Efrat Broide – Strategic planning
and support – IME, efibroide@yahoo.com

Dr. Reut Harel – Board member IME, harel.reut@gmail.com

Ms. Limor Karvonen – Board member IME, limor.kt@gmail.com

Dr. Bana Awad – Board member IME,
bana.awwad@gmail.com

Dr. Monem Jeries – Board member IME, monem.jeries@gmail.com

Dr. Liron Ezra – Board member IME, Lironezra13@gmail.com

Mr. Shmuel Sorek – Chairperson Topaz International, shmuel@topaz.org.il

Dr. Mike Naftali – Founder and President Topaz International, michael.naftali@gmail.com

Ms. Maria Radinsky – Chairperson Brit Olam, radmaria1@gmail.com

Ms. Sharon Zohar – Executive Director Brit Olam , Sharon-britolam@topaz.org.il, +972-52-3269269

[expand title=”The project in numbers” tag=”h4″]

 

  • Over 100 medical personnel delegations to Kiboga.
  • Over 35 Ugandan medical personnel trained in various medical centres.
  • 18,000 patients were treated in the regional hospital and 4,560 were treated in community outreach.
  • A 25% decrease in morbidity, and 55% fewer referrals due to inadequate local resources.
  • Since the opening of the Interdisciplinary Diabetes Clinic, we witnessed a 70% decrease in hospitalization due to diabetic foot and no deaths from DKA & HHS were reported.

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[expand title=”The Main Achievements 2017-2019:” tag=”h4″]

 

  • A historic MoU between the Ugandan and Israeli Medical Associations, which incorporates placements of Ugandan doctors in Israeli hospitals for experience and training.
  • The Interdisciplinary Diabetes Clinic was opened in an official ceremony in which the Ugandan Minister of Health and the Israeli Ambassador to Uganda participated. Far beyond this substantial diplomatic achievement, the clinic has treated more than 560 patients in over 2,000 visits and is expanding with government support.  
  • Medical criteria were adapted for measurement, evaluation and replication of the model to other Ugandan districts and locations in Africa.
  • With the cooperation of Israeli medical start-ups, we introduced innovative telemedicine technologies in rural Uganda.
  • A delegation of chief Israeli physicians and health systems managers was hosted in Uganda to encourage further collaboration.
  • Official negotiations have been initiated with the Ugandan Health Ministry to sign a MoU to further promote the expansion of our activities to achieve our long-term goals.
  • A training internship for the chief nurse at the children’s department, Kiboga District Hospital, was sponsored by Sheba Hospital and Mashav.

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[expand title=”The project’s Goals” tag=”h4″]

 

  • Improving the population’s access to healthcare and medical performance through clinical assistance and capacity building.
  • Empowering and educating local medical staff with an emphasis on independence and sustainability.
  • Building strategic partnerships with the government, academia, civil society and corporates in and outside Uganda, in order to achieve sustainable models for the development of rural medicine in Uganda.
  • Promoting the scientific, medical, economic and diplomatic relations between Israel and Africa by creating a replicable model for comprehensive medical interventions to advocate a bilateral cooperation in these areas.

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[expand title=”On The News” tag=”h4″]

Inauguration of Medical Consultancy – HHRMC / IME / MFA –

In an international conference in India in partnership with the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs with over 200 professional seminar participants with leading medical staff.

PML Daily– Govt lauds Israel Embassy, SBI over diabetic clinic initiative

 

Ynet- Traveled as part of Med-School studies- and learned about patience and about us too (Hebrew)

 

Yad Sarah– Bringing information about the ability to help others with disabilities to… Uganda (Hebrew)

 

N-12– Saving lifes in impossible terms (Hebrew)

 

Youtube have a look at our team 

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