This summer, I have been working as a Sexual and Reproductive Health Intern with Uganda Development and Health Associates (UDHA)–a grassroots, community health outreach center in eastern Uganda. I have been involved with UDHA for the past three years through GlobeMed at WashU. GlobeMed is a student-run health justice organization that partners with UDHA to fully fund a Youth Resource Center in Iganga, as well as a clinic and maternal and child health program in the nearby village of Naigobya.
The Youth Resource Center supports youth who are in school and out of school through a Peer Health Educator program. Participants are selected and trained each year to propagate sexual and reproductive health information among their peers. While here, I am contributing to UDHA by drafting a Peer Health Educator manual, writing monthly newsletters for the Youth Resource Center, and facilitating Peer Health Educator training sessions on reproductive anatomy and healthy versus unhealthy relationships. I am also making educational infographic posters to go up in local schools, inputting data to measure the impact of the Peer Health Educator program, and transitioning training information into a PowerPoint format to be shared with other schools and students not present at trainings.
My skepticism of western international aid almost prevented me from applying to this internship; however, I decided to reconcile the opportunity to support UDHA and my resentment of colonial influences on international aid in order to learn what productive, community-driven global health work can and should look like. Attempting to understand and yearning to improve healthcare systems that ignore or isolate underserved patient populations can at times feel futile and tiring, but apathy to such injustice is inherently harmful. For this reason, I aspire to be a physician-leader who not only recognizes local and global healthcare disparities but also works to mitigate them through sustainable action.