Health Promotion

Center for Global Health Supports Children in Africa

By: Adam Silverman, MD

Children living in resource-limited countries have the same hopes and dreams as children in Connecticut, but they often lack the same opportunities due to where they were born. As the Director of Connecticut Children’s Center for Global Health, I enjoy sharing my clinical expertise with physicians and other medical providers in such countries to improve the quality of healthcare children receive and enhance their quality of life.

I recently traveled to Central Africa to meet with medical professionals in several locations in Rwanda and Uganda. This was my third trip abroad since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced our program to shift to virtual training opportunities for more than two years.

Building New Connections

One of the primary focuses for this trip was to support and further develop opportunities for pediatric residents, faculty and team members who work with the Center for Global Health to be able to share their knowledge, skills and expertise with colleagues working in resource-limited countries.

To further this, I visited the Kisoro region of Southern Uganda to assess a number of sites that provide healthcare for children. While there, I joined Kevin Dieckhaus, MD, of UConn Health, who was already in Kisoro. We met with staff at Potter’s Village Medical Center, St. Francis Mutolere Hospital and the Clare Nsenga Clinic. Everyone I encountered was extremely open and excited to have team members and learners from Connecticut Children’s volunteer at their facilities.

I also visited the University of Global Health Equity (UGHE) medical school in Butaro, Rwanda. I was able to talk with faculty at the medical school and taught a class to 3rd year medical students to help them better understand and diagnose acid-base disorders through blood gas interpretation. UGHE is a world-class medical school that is very interested in having our faculty spend time helping to teach medical students from across Africa during short- and long- term teaching visits.

Strengthening Existing Relationships

I also spent time continuing the Center for Global Health’s relationship with the pediatric program at the University Teaching Hospital of Kigali (CHUK) and medical students from the University of Rwanda. We have had faculty and learners visiting and supporting this site for many years, led by Cliff O’Callahan, MD, PhD, who is a UCONN Professor of Pediatrics and Chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Middlesex Hospital. While there, I met up with Dr. O’Callahan and Connecticut Children’s Pediatric Resident Lauren Costigan, MD, who were both already on site. This is a great site for residents who are interested in experiencing pediatric care in an urban hospital in Rwanda.

My visit also allowed me to continue to support the work of Dr. Janvier Hitayezu, who is the only fellowship-trained pediatric intensivist in Rwanda. While at CHUK, I had the opportunity to work with Rwandan pediatric residents and neonatal nurses on their approach to mechanical ventilation in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. I also participated in Morning Report with medical students at CHUK, providing feedback on their approach to the care of hospitalized children.

Going Forward

During all of my visits, I continued to learn an incredible amount about the myriad barriers to care that exist in resource-limited settings and the ingenious ways dedicated providers overcome these obstacles. This knowledge and perspective helps me better care for my patients in the Emergency Department and Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Connecticut Children’s.

Going forward, the Center for Global Health plans to sponsor a minimum of two to three overseas trips per year to do our part to ensure better outcomes for children living in resource-limited parts of the world. Next up, we are planning a visit to Jamaica in May. During that trip, we will help teach a course on respiratory failure and mechanical ventilation to doctors and nurses. We expect that there will be opportunities for Connecticut Children’s doctors and nurses to participate in additional educational opportunities at this hospital in the future.

At Connecticut Children’s Center for Global Health, our mission is to support our partners around the world who are interested in sustainable and collaborative capacity building partnerships. Together, we can enhance the quality of care provided to children in resource-limited settings, save lives, and help ensure children everywhere have an opportunity to achieve their hopes and dreams.

Adam Silverman, MD, is an emergency medicine and critical care physician at Connecticut Children’s and the Director of Connecticut Children’s Center for Global Health.

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