If you ever have the chance to spend time at a Medical Teams field clinic, you will quickly learn how incredible the staff are. Our global work is fueled by the hands of dedicated and passionate local national staff in each country. In Uganda alone, we have over 1,800 people on staff, mostly comprised of local medical workers.
Four months ago, right before the pandemic hit, I was lucky enough to spend time getting to know some of our staff in Uganda. Some studied at medical school in Uganda. Some were former refugees themselves, inspired to become medical workers because of the care they had received.
After one week with our staff, my boss and I were blown away. She said, “It’s like this at all of the field offices. Our staff are incredible.” We realized a massive missed opportunity – we need to tell the story of our staff. We need to share about their work.
Thanks to the efforts of our talented Communications Officer in Uganda – Shamim Nalubega, we have a series of medical staff profiles that we’re excited to share with you. We hope this series is only the beginning. We hope it pulls back the curtain and gives you a behind the scenes look at the work happening every day on the frontlines.
We begin with Robert Businge – our HIV and Reproductive Health Officer in Kyangwali, Uganda. The first thing I noticed about Robert is his genuine, warm demeanor. By the end of our week together, I learned that we were graced with a multi-talented, multilingual, selfless and kind-hearted individual who sacrificed a week of his time to help us tell the story of Medical Teams’ work. In return, we’d like to share a bit of his story.
Medical Teams: What does your job entail?
RB: In HIV work, I establish effective linkages between HIV prevention, care and treatment, and health system strengthening programs to ensure holistic and integrated approaches to HIV/AIDS programming. I work to identify new and existing opportunities for integration of HIV/AIDS with other health, education, and other economic growth. As a community expert on HIV prevention programming, I support development, improvement and dissemination of sound HIV/AIDS prevention policies and strategies in response to evolving epidemiological evidence.
Part of this work also involves developing relationships with the community in order to gain access to HIV positive individuals and individuals at risk for HIV infection.
For Reproductive Health, I provide technical support to Tuberculosis (TB) Focal Persons, Expanded Programme on Immunization Focal Persons, Midwives and Counselors by referring for training opportunities and providing continuous mentorship. I also participate in Sexual and Gender-Based Violence response and prevention and ensure delivery of quality clinical management of survivors of rape.
As a leader in this role, I represent Medical Teams in meetings related to HIV/AIDS, TB and reproductive health and coordinate with the Ministry of Health and other partners in delivery of services throughout the settlement
What inspired you to become a medical worker?
I was inspired by my mother who is a nurse. I loved the way she cared for the sick with passion. I wanted to take part in alleviating pain and suffering among the sick.
What is your typical day like?
If I am not in the community, I am in the field doing supportive supervision and mentorship for the health care providers. If I am not doing any of the above, I am either in a coordination meeting, writing program reports, or attending to patients.
What inspires you to extend medical services to the refugees
Their unending need for medical assistance gives me the morale to do more.
How many patients do you attend on average a day?
While I was still practicing active clinical work, I would see an average of 180 patients in the outpatient clinic, 30-40 patients in inpatient and 6-8 emergencies in a day. But now, on an active HIV clinic day, I see about 130-150 patients. For the tuberculosis clinic, I see about 9 to 23 patients on a tuberculosis clinic day.
What is your favorite memory from work?
When I saved the life of the only child of a 45-year-old woman in 2016 while at Nakivale Health Center III.
In 2017, I conducted a breech delivery to a live baby girl of a 14-year-old teenager who presented with complication during delivery.
What do you like most about your job?
It inspires me to work more and to do more.
What do you like to do when you are not working?
I love to have quality time with my family. I have a lovely wife and son and we always have more fun. I like going to Church and pray. But I also like watching movies.
What is a fun fact about you many people may not know?
I am a jolly humble man but my looks speak the opposite. I look very serious all the time.
I may have to disagree with Robert on that last one there. Most of the time, he looked just as he did in that first picture – smiling and laughing, with a deep warmth about him. Robert has a massive heart, and we are blessed to have him as staff at Medical Teams.
To learn more about Robert and his colleagues’ work in Uganda, go to our Uganda country page.