Sunday, January 22, 2012

Children and HIV Study Group Reflection

Our day consisted of visiting Baylor AIDS Initiative, MU-JHU, and Mulago Hospital. We gained more information on how these institutions are assisting the needs of mothers and children affected and infected by HIV/AIDS. As the Children and HIV group, while we were greatly benefited from this day, we also wanted to see in the reflection session how the other groups applied what they saw. Furthermore, we had been back in Kampala from Rakai for no more than a few days, so we were curious about how the students felt at this point. 

We began our session with a light game called "Do Unto Others What They Would Do Unto You," in which we saw many interesting things, including a student pretending to peel matoke while doing the "robot." Then, we had an interesting discussion about our expectations and also how they have been met. Many of the students agreed that this trip has met or even exceeded their expectations. We also discussed about how it felt to be back in Kampala, a big and crowded city with many aspects that contrast with our rural experiences, such as toilets and a faster pace of life. We then asked students to reflect on the trip to the institutions and what they found to be surprising or interesting. We discussed the privacy of the patients and information confidentiality. Some felt that there was a lack of privacy in the wards, while others believed it is because Mulago is a teaching hospital, so students regularly observe. One student noticed that there were separate public and VIP sections within the hospital, according to how much patients can afford. As a response, a student felt that regardless of where they are, all patients should be treated with respect and dignity. Another student was surprised by the sheer number of mothers visiting for the first time at a late stage in their pregnancy, raising the question of why they would not come sooner. Also, many students noticed a stark contrast between the internationally funded institution (Baylor) and locally funded hospital (Mulago).

We went on to ask about how the students could relate their experiences to their own themes. The water and sanitation group realized the significance of clean water all throughout the hospital and institutions. They were also surprised at how children who survived HIV ended up dying from diarrhea. The OVC (orphans and vulnerable children) group had learned about a special program that Baylor offered to these particular children. Something that stuck out to the education group was how children of educated mothers were more likely to survive than those with uneducated mothers. Finally, the maternal health group realized that as much as mothers had access to transportation, once they arrive, access to services seemed to be insufficient. 

Personally, our group came to realize just how many are affected by HIV, and we gained so much information on our topic, from PMTCT programs to the counseling of adolescents and caretakers. Also, we learned more about the process, in terms of where patients are referred to, depending on their situation. For example, children are treated at Baylor, while pregnant mothers go to MU-JHU. We look forward to learning and reflecting more from our stay in Kampala, as well as gaining more insight on how children with HIV are affected. 

Conducted Tuesday, January 17, 2012

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