Fighting infection in Uganda by Felix
Fungal infections can be life-threatening for vulnerable people, particularly those with HIV. In Uganda, a lack of specialist doctors and trained laboratory staff makes this a big problem. But now, Ugandan doctor Felix Bongomin is set to change all that using the skills he’s gained on a funded master’s course.
One of the most pressing issues we have in Uganda is the high number of people with HIV/AIDS who are vulnerable to fungal infection.
Most serious fungal infections in these patients are difficult to recognise. They require specialised testing for diagnosis, and delays or missed diagnosis often lead to death, serious chronic illness or blindness.
As a medical intern, I found that fungal infections were among the trickiest cases on the wards. In the developing world there are very few specialists in this kind of medicine, medical mycology, and laboratories are ill-equipped for diagnosis.
The Equity and Merit Scholarship
Because of the immediate need for physicians and doctors back in developing countries, I applied to study for an MSc in Medical Mycology at The University of Manchester through the Equity and Merit Scholarship Programme.
The programme offers students from Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda the chance to study for a Master’s Degree in a subject that isn’t available in their home country. The university covers the tuition fees and donors pay for visas, flights and living costs.
Without this scholarship, it would have been impossible for me to fund study abroad and obtain my master’s degree. Thanks to the scholarship I was given a life-changing opportunity to work with laboratory specialists and learn unique skills.
When I was coming to Manchester, I just put in the back of my mind how many hundreds and thousands of kilometres away it was, and all I focused on was getting a distinction in my Master’s degree. That is exactly what I got and I am extremely happy about that.
Plans for the future
Being a mycologist means I’ll be an important human resource for Uganda. I plan to establish a research institute which will be responsible for setting up good-quality fungal diagnostic and treatment services countrywide.
I also plan to become a full-time lecturer. I can now share my specialist knowledge with my colleagues and my students, so together we can improve the quality of life and increase survival rates for many people back home.
The quality of education that I obtained from The University of Manchester and the impact that I will have on our community is quite remarkable. Because of that I want to urge every potential donor out there to support people like me, so together we can make a positive change in people’s lives.