Israeli Medicine on the Equator

Building a Sustainable Model for Healthcare Systems in Rural Africa

“Israeli Medicine on the Equator” project has been operating in Uganda by Brit Olam-Topaz and its partners since 2005. The project operates in the Kiboga district, one of the poorest districts in Uganda, located 120 km northwest of the capital city Kampala. Most teams include two doctors or a doctor and nurse.

For more information see the program’s website

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The project is generously supported by SBI International Holdings AG (Uganda)

The project is based on voluntary medical teams, typically a group of 2-3 doctors and nurses who had undergone training and are volunteering for a period of approximately 3 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 runs in collaboration with the Kiboga district health authorities, e.g. the District Health Officer (DHO), the Kiboga District Hospital and clinical officers at community health centres, who are encouraged and empowered to determine goals to be achieved. Over the years, more than 100 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 has been taking place for over 11 years.

COVID-19

Even remotely, with closed borders, we are aiding medical development in Uganda.
In an effort to help during COVID-19 and its consequences, shipment of medical equipment arrived at Kibuga Hospital. The equipment that arrived, with the assistance of MASHAV and Israel in Kenya, is intended to assist the hospital in dealing with the corona virus and also to continue to maintain the clinics established through the Israeli staffs. We also thank Solel Boneh Uganda for its ongoing support of activities even in times of emergency.


Want to take part in an experience that will accompany you for a lifetime?
join us!!

We are looking for specialized and senior doctors to volunteer (mostly from the pediatric, family and boarding schools, but also those from other fields who still remember general medicine). Activities include work in clinics across the county, in the adult and pediatric wards at the hospital and in the diabetes clinic. Departure is for a minimum of 6 weeks under certain conditions with priority given to departures for 3 months. Funding will be provided to physicians subject to the capabilities and needs of the project.
You can contact email: med_africa@britolam.org with a resume and an indication of the period in which you are interested in volunteering. Thank you!


The Main Achievements 2017-2019:

  • 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.

The project in numbers

  • 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.

Our vision

“Israeli Medicine on the Equator” develops a healthy and knowledgeable society equipped with the tools to reduce the burden of
preventable NCDs and improves treatment and quality of life for the people living with NCDs.
We are on a mission to enhance health, medical performance and sustainability in the regional, rural settings of Kiboga, Uganda
and elsewhere in Africa, by introducing a replicable model based on Israeli knowledge and expertise.

 

The project’s Goals

  • 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.



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 main 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 districts. The system includes one hospital with 120 admission beds, one large health center (level IV) and 18 smaller centers around the district (6 level III and 12 level II). Only 6 doctors are currently employed in these facilities (all working part-time) and the community health centres (levels III and II) are run by nurses and clinical officers with basic training. The public system in this region lacks resources, trained personnel and is characterized by rural inaccessibility to basic healthcare facilities.

Within this context, together with the common infectious diseases, chronic Non-communicable diseases (NCD) overload the local healthcare system. More specifically, NCDs, which have become highly prevalent in rural Africa, present multiple challenges, as the equipment and medication required for their treatment are scarce. 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 awareness of the population to NCDs, in order to improve the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of diseases such as diabetes, cancer, hypertension and heart diseases.

The “Kiboga” model emphasizes the empowerment and capacity building of our local partners in the medical sector, i.e. eight regional health center 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 are paving the way by improving and ameliorating access to healthcare throughout the district, as well as 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.  Focused on regional healthcare systems, the “Kiboga” model can be replicated in other Ugandan districts and elsewhere in Africa.

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.  

Kiboga district in Uganda:

A number of parameters reflect the depressed health conditions in Kiboga compared to other districts:

  • The mortality rate in Kiboga is ranked sixth lowest, at 46.7 years – 12.3 years below the national average.
  • Infant mortality is 128 per 1,000 live births compared to 83 on average nationally. 
  • The maternal death rate is 650 per 100,000 live births.
  • Childhood mortality under age 5 is 109 per 1,000 children, 12% caused by malnutrition.
  • More than 9% of the population in this district have AIDS and live too far from a health facility for treatment.

The District Hospital in Kiboga

Kiboga district hospital is located in a rural area 120km northwest of the capital city of Kampala, in one of the poorest districts in Uganda. The hospital has 120 beds and four wards – gynecology (primarily maternity), pediatrics, women, and men (each comparable to a combination of internal medicine and general surgery).    The hospital does not provide bedding or food to the patients, and patients sometimes leave the hospital in severe condition because they have no money to buy food. The hospital has not had running water for 8 years, and even for operations, the surgical team washes with water from a jerry can (with mud on the bottom). Electric outages are frequent and entire weeks can go by without electricity.

Overall, to Support the Development of Rural Medicine in Uganda:

  • A financial support of the Israeli voluntary medical team – travel expenses, per diem, international health insurance

To date, the budget of “Israeli Medicine on the Equator” allows the delegation of only one Israeli doctor to Uganda per term. With financial assistance, the organisation will be able to invest in growing its voluntary medical teams per term, which in turn will comprise of an attending physician, medical intern/resident and a specialised nurse. By supporting and expanding our voluntary teams, we will be able to train more Ugandan medical staff to diagnose and treat NCDs and in essence, to further scale our impact in Uganda.

  • Projects to strengthen the medical capabilities of the Ugandan medical teams; on the agenda: hypertension, malnutrition and cervical cancer

The strategic plan incorporates opening specialised clinics, with local partners, in order to develop local knowledge to improve the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of NCDs for better long-term outcomes. Together with our partners, we have identified the most stressing medical conditions in Kiboga and developed a work plan to reach our targets.

Following the successful establishment of our Interdisciplinary Diabetes Clinic, we are now looking to expand our projects to improve local education, diagnosis and treatment of hypertension, malnutrition and cervical cancer. These projects require medical training run by the local hospital and volunteers to raise awareness within the community and to enhance medical outcomes. These training projects involve payment of tuition fees (customary among public health systems) and to increase the community outreach programs in remote health centers.

  • Infrastructure improvement, renovation and installation of the Israeli volunteers’ accommodation

This assistance will serve to improve the voluntary experience and medical care, which are vital for the growth of our project. The existing accommodation facilities for Israeli volunteers are very limited, i.e. lacking running hot water, living conveniences and continuous internet connection required for basic communication. As the project continues to grow and expand in new areas, we would like to provide the senior medical professionals in residence with a more appropriate living arrangements, equivalent to those of local medical staff.

  • Improve the hospital’s remote treatment capabilities by investing in basic diagnostics medical equipment

Sample medical equipment includes: a mobile laboratory, a device for evaluating the effectiveness of treatment among patients with diabetes (Hba1C) and test kits.

On the News

PML DailyGovt 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 SarahBringing information about the ability to help others with disabilities to… Uganda (Hebrew)

N-12Saving lifes in impossible terms (Hebrew)

Youtube have a look at our team 

If you want to know more and help us, please feel free to Contact us or Donat us.