HSL Librarian travels with UNC-Project Uganda
In April 2011, Mellanye Lackey, the HSL Global Public Health librarian, traveled to Uganda on a clinical medical mission with the UNC Project-Uganda team. Mellanye’s trip, partially funded through the HSL global travel fund, laid the foundation for a collaborative partnership between the Health Sciences Library and the UNC Project-Uganda team.
Working at two sites — Mulago Hospital at Makerere University in Kampala and Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST) in Mbarara — UNC Project-Uganda supports the sustainable delivery of health care to infants, children, and adolescents in Uganda. One of the project’s primary missions is to improve the medical knowledge of the Ugandan health care workforce through in-country training, telemedicine, and a physician exchange program.
While in Uganda, Mellanye explored options for sustainable technology, telemedicine and medical education. Working with IT staff at Mulago hospital, Mellanye conducted a technology needs assessment during which she experienced first-hand the realities of Internet access in Uganda. These insights have proved invaluable to HSL’s work, specifically in the creation of health information guides for medical residents in Uganda and other African countries.
In addition to troubleshooting technology, Mellanye provided two HINARI training sessions to pediatric residents at the Albert Cook Medical Library. HINARI is a free or low-cost digital library that provides access to electronic journals, databases and online books. Membership is available to institutions in low- to middle-income countries.
Mellanye also supported the clinical work of the UNC Project-Uganda team and shares her experience,
“While in-country, I performed a search for one of the physicians. I looked for articles that addressed kerosene poisoning in children. This was an unanticipated information need of the group that I was able to fill quickly and efficiently. As a result, the residents who took her class are much better informed and can deliver better health care. Having a librarian on the team means a higher quality of care. I like to think that this is one way that I made a real difference.”
Richard Ssenono, Senior Information Scientist at Mulago Hospital’s Infectious Diseases Institute, commented that Mellanye’s “visit to the Infectious Diseases Institute in Uganda was a blessing since she explored with us the various ways which we can use social networks to reach the community and improve our digital library services. A big applause to you for your generous heart.”
The UNC HSL continues to support the UNC Project-Uganda researchers in their use of the library’s collaboration center to provide long-distance training to Ugandan medical residents and through the development of an information resource guide for residents in Uganda.