Hamilton doctors are making a difference in Uganda

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By John Tonin

Dr. Anthony Batte arrived in Hamilton from Kampala, Uganda in October 2015. Batte works at Makerere University and Mulago Hospital, training doctors and treating patients in pediatrics – caring for children. Batte came to Canada with the help of the St. Joseph’s Health System International Outreach Program (IOP).

The IOP celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. The Sisters of St. Joseph’s of Hamilton founded the IOP and in 2010 it became a registered Canadian charity.

The IOP works with four hospitals in Uganda. Batte says the work the IOP has done in Uganda has been crucial for his country’s medical system.

“The IOP is one of the key groups along with McMaster [University] that has done a lot of work in training sub-specialists in the different fields of medicine,” said Batte. “Especially in the department of internal medicine the sub-specialists that we have are trained by McMaster. Right now I’m being trained to be a pediatric nephrologist and it’s a big achievement that the IOP has given us, for the university and the country.”

By offering sub-specializations to doctors such as Batte, the IOP helps teach the doctors about managing patients and their illnesses.

“Currently we are managing the children as general pediatricians,” said Batte. “The IOP gives us the opportunity to have more information, more skills and knowledge in management in renal [kidney] diseases. When I am trained as a pediatric nephrologist I will be treating them as a specialist. It means we can offer more specialized care to the children.”

Batte said since Uganda is a developing country, pediatric nephrology is not a well-developed medical discipline.

“Children in Uganda face problems with HIV and renal deficiencies,” said Batte. “Currently in Uganda we do not have the statistics to quantify the problem of pediatric nephrology. Past this training [Canadian fellowship], I think this is an important study, so I will be doing the research once I am home. As well, I want to be able to offer what Canadian pediatric nephrologists can offer to patients in Uganda.”

The IOP works to enhance a country’s medical system. Once the doctors obtain the highest level of education in their country they come to Canada to sub-specialize. When the doctors return home they can then teach their students as sub-specialists, growing their respective fields.

“I think we as a country, as Uganda, we need to acknowledge what the IOP has done,” said Batte. “The training that we get is key to first the health system and to the government because they could not afford to do what the IOP does. The IOP takes on big ventures and it’s very important and it’s helping our health system.”

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