Co-Founder and Pediatrics Advisor, Madiro
May 3, 2023
Adrian and I recently returned from a two-week trip to Kenya and Uganda with our 8- and 9-year-old children. As I was fortunate enough to have travelled to, and worked in, several countries in Sub-Saharan Africa in the past, it was truly fascinating to be able to experience such a trip again with my children at my side and to see it through their eyes.
As we visited rural Uganda, the children were enchanted with how warm and friendly everyone we encountered was. One of the main things my children remarked on was that it is possible to be happy even without a "ton of stuff" (a foreign concept to many Canadian kids, including our own). However, another lesson that they quickly understood was that although happiness is very possible without significant material wealth, any threat to a family member’s health, such as a child falling sick, can be devastating without access to healthcare...
That's where Healthy Entrepreneurs (HE) comes in: improving access in remote areas to crucially important medication and health-promoting products. We spent two days exploring this organization. I feel very fortunate to have gotten a glimpse into their excellent work. We met with several Community Health Entrepreneurs (CHEs) and discussed their perspectives on their roles. We also visited with two CHEs as they cared for patients. As a physician, I was very impressed by their clinical and organizational skills. They took a brief history, arranged their equipment, skillfully obtained their measurements, in this case blood pressure monitoring, then called the HE medical hotline with a case presentation to obtain advice.
I was truly impressed and inspired by the HE initiative. I have previously worked with community health volunteers in several countries and been stricken by their devotion to their communities given that their work is essentially unpaid. HE provides the opportunity for community health volunteers to earn some money while simultaneously dispensing essential medications such as anti-malarials and health-promoting products such as fortified porridge. Their recent venture into non-communicable disease management with remote E-dispensing and their intention to further tackle malnutrition in children is incredibly impressive. I believe that HE is a model that is truly scalable and can play a significant part in providing medical care in remote regions. I am proud that Madiro is supporting their work.
In addition to visiting Healthy Entrepreneurs, we also had the opportunity to visit two other Kampala-based projects that Madiro has supported: Signalytic and the Golden Centre for Women’s Rights*. SIgnalytic has developed hardware/software technology that allows remote health centres with poor connectivity to exchange critical drug stock data. I was very impressed with the technological solution they have created to this significant problem. The Golden Centre for Women’s Rights offers crucial mental health support and advocacy for marginalized populations such as sex workers. We were warmly welcomed by the staff there and I was very inspired by their important and valuable work.
I am very grateful to the staff of the projects we visited for taking the time to welcome us, to explain the work that they do and to share their share their perspectives on the current challenges they face and the possible solutions to them. I am more convinced than ever that Madiro, with its aim to help scale up technological solutions to improve health, is on the right track in terms of our mission and the projects we’ve supported up until now. As I reflect on all that we saw and experienced, I am certain that Madiro can play an important part by helping to scale up medical innovation and supporting other important ventures…
We combined our visit of Madiro-supported projects with more touristy activities such as bike riding in a village in Jinja, a boat ride in the Nile River and a safari in Kenya. This gave our children a sense of the wonder, beauty and excitement of travel in East Africa. It was especially meaningful because we shared the experience with our good friends and their children. We all can't wait to go back!
*Direction for the implementation of this project was led by KBF Canada
About the author
Co-Founder and Pediatrics Advisor, Madiro
Dr Gillian Morantz is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at McGill University. Her clinical and research focus is primarily on children new to Canada and in child protection. She has previously volunteered or worked in a research capacity in Ghana, Zimbabwe, Burkina Faso, Botswana, Kenya and Haiti. She is the co-Director of the McGill Department of Pediatrics' Global Child Health Program which oversees medical education in global child health and collaborations with partners in low-income countries. She is also the co-Director of the Social Pediatrics Program which provides exposure for trainees to the medical care of children living in socially vulnerable contexts.
Exploring the possibility of AI-driven digital healthcare to bridge accessibility gaps in LMICs.
SIXKNM outreach program in Kenya transforms lives of mental health patients and involves the community to fight against stigma.
Madiro's co-founder, Adrian Schauer, shares insights about his trip to East Africa in March 2023 where he visited partners and saw the impact of Madiro's work.