My Commitment to Action

MasterCard Foundation Scholar, Juma Orach, explains his CGI U goal for impacting change

On April 1-3, I was honoured to be a part of the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) at UC Berkeley. With the support of the MasterCard Foundation and CGI U, I was given an opportunity to be a part of an outstanding global movement. Being part of CGI U this year felt like my second chance to contribute. Through my Commitment to Action with CGI U, I have been inspired to use my personal career development to contribute to the public health sector in central Uganda.

My commitment is to develop a protocol for monitoring HIV/AIDS treatment in low-income settings and promote adherence in central Uganda. It also aims in the long term to deal with multi-drug resistance that is wide-spread on the African continent due to misuse of available drugs. This is a research based commitment and an incremental effort to the already existing medical and public health research on HIV/AIDS in Uganda. My Commitment to Action also aligns with my summer internship in which I will be engaged in translational research in HIV/AIDS at the infectious Disease Institute at Makerere University. I intend to use this as an opportunity to kick-start the commitment and also have practical exposure to assess the feasibility of my project.

As with most scientific research, my project’s value is incremental and informational. The research commitment aims to alleviate HIV/AIDS mortality due to poor adherence and accessibility to treatment. This will be by providing a well-researched set of guidelines for public health personnel to execute treatment programs and evaluate their proficiency. My commitment will also investigate the multi-drug resistance that is associated with poor treatment adherence. The target population is East and Central Uganda, with a focus on Kampala and Jinja districts.

I am driven by the change I want to see in remote communities in Uganda.  I was raised by a mother who has been a public nurse for over 20 years, and therefore was extensively exposed to the healthcare system in Jinja district. Through casual interactions with the staff and patients, I was impressed by the support system in place especially for HIV/AIDS patients under The AIDS Support Organization (TASO). However, I also observed challenges within the system.

I developed hypotheses to explain the challenges I saw, but did not have an opportunity to undertake rigorous research to identify these challenges and contribute to finding solutions. My greatest misfortune was the impediments between the translation of my ideas into developmental projects and impact. I was limited in the number of like-minds and resources to set the development of the idea into motion.

A salient theme of CGI U was engagement of local communities in solving their own problems. In his opening address, President Bill Clinton reminded us that the people closest to the problem are closest to the solution; yet often furthest from power. I find remarkable truth in this statement and the promotion of individual empowerment through CGI U serves to bridge that gap – an effort I believe I can be a part of.

Juma Orach is a MasterCard Foundation Scholar at University of British Columbia. He has just completed his second year in the immunology/microbiology program.  Read the full text of his reflections on the learning from his experience at CGI U on his blog.

About Clinton Global Initiative University
The Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U), a program of the Clinton Global Initiative, brings together college students to address global challenges with practical, innovative solutions. CGI U participants do more than simply discuss problems – they take concrete steps to solve them by creating action plans, building relationships, participating in hands-on workshops, and following up with CGI U as they complete their projects. Since 2008, students have made more than 6,000 Commitments to Action. Previous CGI U meetings have taken place at Tulane University, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Miami, the University of California at San Diego, the George Washington University, Washington University in St. Louis, and Arizona State University, and have convened more than 8,700 students from over 925 schools, 145 countries, and all 50 states. To learn more, visit cgiu.org.

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