Who we are…
The Global Health Collaborative is a partnership between Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST) in Uganda, MGH Global Health in the United States, and various other international academic institutions.
Mbarara University of Science and Technology
The Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST) in southwest Uganda is one of Mass General’s longest and strongest partnerships. Located in East Africa, Uganda is approximately the size of Oregon, with a population of about 37.5 million. Often known as “the pearl of Africa,” Uganda has a mild, tropical climate, exceptional natural beauty, and a burgeoning tourist industry to compete with its East Africa neighbors. The majority of Ugandans are rural subsistence farmers with limited access to basic health care.
MUST was founded in 1989 under the auspices of Ministry of Education in response to the increasing demand for health professionals trained to provide healthcare in rural Uganda. After an extensive modification to the physical facilities of the former School of Midwifery at the Mbarara District Hospital, MUST opened with the first class of 43 students in the Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery programs. Today, MUST boasts an enrollment of over 3,500 students across the Faculties of Medicine, Science and Development Studies, and the Institutes for Computer Science and Tropical Forest Conservation. As with Mass General and Harvard Medical School, MUST students learn clinical skills in an affiliated tertiary academic medical center. The hospital is located adjacent to the medical school.
Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital
The 400-bed Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital (MRRH) is a public hospital founded under the auspices of Uganda Ministry of Health in 1956. Built in 2012 the new building houses the Trauma Unit (Emergency Department), Radiology, ICU’s, Private pay inpatient ward pharmacy, laundry and other support services.
Inpatient facilities include medicine, surgery, pediatrics, malnutrition, OB/GYN, labor and delivery, ICU, psychiatry, and trauma services. The hospital admits over 30,000 patients each year – at least 30% for obstetrics or pediatrics – and delivers over 10,000 babies each year. By comparison, Mass General delivers about 3,600 babies annually. The children’s ward has 84 beds and admits between 6,000 and 7,000 children a year.
The outpatient facilities include clinics for HIV/AIDS, diabetes, cardiology and general medical care. Common diagnosis and presentation include HIV, TB, pneumonia, Cryptococcus, malaria, toxoplasmosis, meningitis, hepatitis B, diarrheal diseases, neurologic disorders, anemia and diabetes.
A Partnership in Uganda: The Global Health Collaborative
Collaborations between MUST and Mass General physicians and scientists began over a decade ago. Initially focused on the care and treatment of persons living with HIV, the collaboration has grown to include cutting-edge biomedical research, technology innovation, and community-based projects to understand the local social, behavioral and economic barriers to improved health. Now with over 100 local staff and a growing expatriate administrative and clinical team, the MUST-MGH collaboration is a significant investment in the human resource and programmatic capacity of MUST and MRRH. Active clinical partnerships include General and Community Medicine, Pathology, OB/GYN, Pediatric Oncology, Trauma/Surgery, Radiology, Nursing, and ENT. MGH supports the education of 35+ masters in medicine students and 12 masters in nursing students. This investment in education will deepen and strengthen local clinical and research capacity.
As with Mass General’s commitment to under-served regions of New England, the Faculty of Medicine at MUST prioritizes community partnerships. The MUST Department of Community Medicine regularly sends teams of students and faculty to more than 25 rural or peri-urban sites to understand key challenges and to develop and implement health improvement projects in partnership with the local community. One of these sites is the primary community health center in the rural town of Bugoye, a few hours north of Mbarara. Situated in the foothills of the Rwenzori Mountains, the Bugoye Health Center III (BHC) offers basic preventive and curative care to a population of approximately 46,700 people. BHC also provides clinical support and supervision to the community, community health workers (CHW), and lower level facilities under its jurisdiction.
“Previously the local people would use herbal medicine before coming to the health center. The health center is so far on foot and then the children would be very sick before receiving the appropriate treatment. Now, we can help them. We are trusted. We make an impact.”
Odjan Jonathan, Bugoye Community Health Worker
Massachusetts General Hospital – A History of Care for Our Neighbor
On Aug. 20, 1810, Drs. James Jackson and John Collins Warren penned a petition calling for the establishment of a general hospital in Boston. This petition — known as the Circular Letter — called for a new hospital to provide healthcare for the poor and disenfranchised. In 1811, the Massachusetts legislature granted a charter for the incorporation of the Massachusetts General Hospital, becoming just the third general hospital in the United States. In a given year this 950-bed academic medical center admits over 48,000 patients, handles nearly 1.5 million outpatient visits, records more than 90,000 emergency room visits, performs more than 38,000 operations, and delivers more than 3,600 babies a year. MGH is the largest teaching hospital of the Harvard Medical School.
Now entering our third century, the founders’ vision remains embedded in the fabric of the institution. Our neighborhood has expanded well beyond Boston to include communities around the globe. Acknowledging this, the mission of the hospital was modified in 2007 to fully recognize our commitment to community: “Guided by the needs of our patients and their families, we aim to deliver the very best health care in a safe, compassionate environment; to advance that care through innovative research and education; and to improve the health and well being of the diverse communities we serve.”
Massachusetts General Hospital Global Health
Established in 2006, the Mass General Global Health builds on the hospital’s rich history of leadership in clinical care, medical education, and humanitarian aid while crafting innovative solutions to some of the most intractable challenges facing our global community. The mission of the MGH Global Health is to leverage the Mass General 200-year legacy of excellence in care, education, and innovation to improve the lives of those most vulnerable in our global community.
The MGH Global Health houses several signature programs in care, education, and innovation:
- The Global Medicine Program, in partnership with the Mass General Department of Medicine, integrates the principles and practice of global health and primary care to reduce local and global health disparities, particularly in women and children, by providing early childhood care for malaria, diarrheal disease, and pneumonia linked to effective diagnosis and treatment of maternal HIV. The program develops future leaders to advance health equity and strengthen health systems around the world through a continuum of service, teaching, and academic research.
- The Consortium for Affordable Medical Technologies (CAMTech) is a global network of academic, clinical, corporate, and non-profit partners whose mission is to create impactful, innovative, and commercially viable medical technology. Based primarily in Uganda and India, all activities are grounded in the philosophy of co-creation across geography and sector, and informed by the end-user.
- The Office of Global Disaster Response provides a professional response to those affected by disasters and complex humanitarian emergencies around the world. Recognizing the need for well-trained and professional personnel to meet the growing frequency and severity of natural and man-made disasters, the Office of Global Disaster Response expands capacity at the local, national, and international level to respond to crises, and defines and disseminates the “science” of disaster response.
- The Global Health Service Partnership with Seed Global Health and the U.S. Peace Corps strengthens global medical education systems by partnering U.S. physicians and nurses with local educators. Through one-year placements in Tanzania, Uganda and Malawi, volunteers build medical human resource capacity through direct clinical service, training future healthcare professionals and mentoring local colleagues.
Impact of MGH Global Health in Uganda
In its partnerships abroad, Mass General is attracting and retaining clinical faculty in key medical subspecialties and using targeted training opportunities for clinicians and community health workers across the care continuum. Through bilateral investments for clinical training opportunities like in the MMed and Global Medicine programs, we are developing the next generation of global leaders to address the critical health challenges of today and the emerging challenges of the future.