My summer research project focused on Uliza! Clinicians’HIV Hotline, a real time free clinical consultation service from HIV/AIDS experts open to all clinicians in Kenya. The evaluation was performed using user satisfaction surveys and a chart audit. Data was analyzed to examine user satisfaction, barriers to use and implementation, and impact on clinical practice. The analysis identified existing problems and will be used to direct and improve future service.
This project excited me because it enabled me to explore my interest in global health. One of the primary reasons I chose to enter the medical field, and to attend UCSF in particular, was to improve the lives of the medically undeserved. Although one does not have to look far to find undeserved patient populations in North America, the developing world presents a number of unique challenges, especially in terms of healthcare availability. The extreme shortage of specialists in Kenya is one of the many issues.
I find the FACES program, and the Uliza! hotline especially, to be a particularly promising solution to the shortage of HIV/AIDS specialists in Kenya. However, one potential obstacle that Uliza! and similar projects face is a lack of studies to determine the effective aspects of the program, as well as the potential shortcomings. Regardless of how well thought-out and operated a global health project may be, there must always be ways in which it can be improved upon. In the case of Uliza!, an up-to-date study was needed to identify the successes and weaknesses of the project. For example, identifying the barriers to Uliza! usage, the impact of Uliza!, and the most often requested information from Uliza! clinicians could enable Uliza! staff to make it easier for healthcare providers to access the service, as well as to maximize the benefit that providers receive from the service. It is my hope that this project will lead to changes in Uliza! that ultimately improves patient care.
I enjoyed working on this project because it allowed me to work closely with experienced global health personnel, as well as Kenyan healthcare providers. As a student planning on making global health a primary aspect of my future career, I am very interested in learning more about the day-to-day lives of these dedicated professionals. Through the Uliza! evaluation project, I was able to visit various Kenyan clinics and gain firsthand experience in healthcare in the developing world, as well as the logistics of operating a global health project. It was truly an invaluable experience.