UNC Project-Uganda partners with GE Foundation

Wednesday, July 28, 2010 — The partnership will advance the clinical and educational goals of the pediatric heart program.

CHAPEL HILL, NC — The GE Foundation has entered into partnership with UNC Project-Uganda at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The partnership will advance the clinical and educational goals of the pediatric heart program. 

With financial, logistic and equipment support from the GE Foundation, UNC Project-Uganda will organize a fifth mission to Kampala to provide corrective surgery to children with congenital heart defects at Mulago Hospital. The team will also offer additional training to Ugandan health care workers to enable them to perform the procedures themselves. 

 “We are thrilled that the new partnership with GE Foundation will allow us to continue this important work,” said Keith Kocis, MD, director of UNC Project-Uganda and a professor of anesthesiology and pediatrics in the UNC School of Medicine. Since 2005, UNC Project-Uganda has performed 32 successful pediatric open heart surgeries and  trained over 100 Ugandan pediatric health care professionals. 

 As with most countries in sub-Saharan Africa, Uganda is struggling to build an adequate health care workforce. The new partnership will take the first steps toward establishing a regionalized health care delivery system. These initial efforts will revolve around providing joint educational programs between UNC, Mulago Hospital, and Mbarara Regional Hospital, which serves as the teaching hospital of Mbarara University of Science and Technology.

 “We’ve already seen what can be accomplished when you give people the tools and the training,” Kocis said. “We know we can do even more.”

The next heart mission trip is planned for early 2011.

About UNC Project-Uganda

The Amal Murarka International Pediatric Health Foundation was founded in 2004 in honor of Dr. Amal Murarka (1969-2003), a faculty physician at UNC who had worked in Uganda. Through the foundation, a team of UNC clinicians established Uganda’s first pediatric intensive care unit at Mulago Hospital and went on to focus on pediatric cardiac surgery. 

At the end of 2008, the team formed a partnership with the UNC Institute for Global Health & Infectious Diseases to formally recognize these efforts and establish the UNC Project-Uganda. Its mission is to support sustainable delivery of compassionate and competent health care to infants, children, and adolescents in Uganda and to improve the medical knowledge of the Ugandan health care workforce.

Media contact: Tom Hughes, (919) 966-6047, tahughes@unch.unc.edu

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