Voices of MEPI Junior Faculty fellows: Dr Patience A Muwanguzi
March / April 2021 | Volume 20 Number 2
Photo courtesy of Racheal Nabunya
Dr. Patience A. Muwanguzi
Emergency and trauma nurse, head of nursing
Makerere University, Uganda
As told to Susan Scutti
In Uganda there is a high prevalence of HIV - every family is affected - so we offer HIV testing to everyone who comes into the ER. The women usually accept but men typically say “no.” For my
Medical Education Partnership Initiative Junior Faculty Research Training (MEPI-Jr) project, I thought, what if we brought the HIV test to men at work?
In one district we found that most who came to be tested were at the lower levels of the hierarchy, maybe janitors or security guards, while the managers did not participate. One recommendation was that we bring a variety of tests, such as blood pressure, blood glucose, cancer screening and also HIV self-test kits. This worked well. Some people had never had a blood pressure test, while others discovered they might have diabetes. Overall, this was a very good strategy so that men would not be stigmatized when taking an HIV test. We did find HIV positive cases and linked them to care and treatment, which is the most important outcome.
This fellowship was the best two years of my life! I learned and practiced both advanced statistics and writing skills; I have submitted eight manuscripts and applied for 10 grants of which four have been successful. My research project opened doors to international networks and also at Uganda’s health ministry, where I am now invited to contribute because I have data from research and evidence that can influence policy.
Because I was able to interact with people at the policy level, it’s quite exciting to see some of the things I wrote about in my research will now be implemented in the country. It’s amazing to develop personally in my career, and advance the profession and influence policy. As a result of this experience, I joined the editorial board of the JANAC journal and received a Fulbright fellowship to the University of Pennsylvania. There I developed the curriculum for a master’s program, which means more people will be trained at an advanced level in emergency care.
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