Personal Stories & Perspectives from the Field
Dr. David Meya is one of the promising young Africans who completed Accordia’s Infectious Diseases Fellowship Program at the Infectious Diseases Institute in Uganda. Accordia began this program in 2003 to provide an opportunity for young African doctors to specialize in infectious diseases, a critical area where training was lacking. As part of this exciting program, David practiced medicine in the area of infectious diseases and learned how to carry out clinical research aimed at improving the lives of his fellow Africans.
Mitterrand Kiirya began to dream of working in medicine when he was six years old. “I saw people hurting and I wanted to stop pain, to alleviate pain. That was my concern,” he recalls. Today, as an RN and medical counselor at IDI, Mitterrand is living that dream.
Mitterrand manages a National Institutes of Health-sponsored research study that compares the effects of anti-retroviral drug regimens that are designed to treat HIV-related Kaposi’s Sarcoma. Caused by a virus, Kaposi’s Sarcoma is one of the most common types of cancer among people living with HIV. The clinical trial, which began in May 2007, has seen positive results thus far in treating the cancer.
“Compassion and kindness,” she said. Three simple words softly spoken. Yet, powerful and clear. It wasn’t a statement necessarily about herself, but a response to the question:“What does it take to be an effective health care worker in the HIV community in Africa?” Brilliance, to understand an incredibly complex and debilitating disease with equally challenging drug regimens? Mental toughness, to endure the heartbreaking stories undoubtedly communicated on a daily basis by patients? Optimism? No…compassion and kindness… The response itself spoke volumes about Dr. Olivia Kharono, a clinical officer at the Joint Clinical Research Center (JCRC) in Mubende who recently completed training in advanced HIV/AIDS care and prevention at the Infections Diseases Institute in Kampala.
“Joining Accordia was a way for me to align my business experience in providing public health solutions and services to the developing world with my personal passion for enhancing human health.”
Donald A. Holzworth is enhancing human health around the world every day. He has spent his over 30 year career designing public health programs in developing countries. He is the former Founder, Chairman, and Chief Executive Officer of Constella Group, a leading global provider of health consulting services. Today, Don is the Chairman of Futures Group International and a leading member of the Accordia Board of Directors, where he is furthering his commitment to fighting infectious diseases in Africa.
Dr. Sabrina Bakeera-Kitaka could have joined the thousands of medical professionals who leave Africa every year. Through an innovative Accordia program, however, she received the financial support, mentorship, and opportunity to make a difference at home. Following a highly competitive process, Dr. Kitaka became an Infectious Disease Fellow in 2003, and then became one of an elite group enrolled in Accordia’s Nelson Sewankambo Clinical Scholars Program. As a Sewankambo Scholar, she trained and conducted research at the world-class Infectious Diseases Institute. The program, funded in large part by a grant from the Gilead Foundation, provides ongoing mentorship by internationally recognized leaders in the field.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, 12 million women live with HIV/AIDS. Already challenged by poverty, these women face the stigma of the disease and often have few resources to seek medical attention. A few years ago, Rose Kaweesi, a 40 year old woman living in Kampala, Uganda, thought she was about to die. She lost her husband to AIDS in 1994 and by 1999 she too was sick. “I was getting weaker and weaker. I had a lot of complications – fever, headaches, sores, and so on. Even travelling 20 kilometres in a taxi would make me feel worn out,” she recalls.
While rivaling militias continue to ravage the war-torn region in the northeast of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the people of DRC are rebuilding their communities. Millions of lives have been lost through starvation and disease, exacerbated by years of war, and resulting in the isolation of the very people most in need of international support. From this crestfallen region, Accordia encountered a symbol of hope: Dr. Mike Upio.
One of the most important ways Accordia Global Health Foundation pursues its mission to overcome the burden of infectious disease in Africa is by nurturing a new generation of specialists to address existing and future global health challenges. Dr. Stephan Schrantz of the University of Chicago was selected in 2006 to participate in the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) International Exchange Fellowship. This program sends North American and European doctors to spend 6 months conducting research at the Infectious Diseases Institute (IDI) in Uganda, promoting the development of an international medical education.