Bert Hootsmans - Kampala, Uganda

Kampala, Uganda

One of the three screening sites for the research study: St. Mary’s Cathedral in Rubaga District.

Career goal: Become a physician and global health practitioner focused on chronic disease prevention and management.

Internship outline: Bert worked with the Alliance for Stroke Awareness and Prevention Project (ASAPP) on a case-control study to determine risk factors for hypertension. This organization provides free hypertension screening and counseling services at several houses of worship in Kampala, Uganda. Participants were enrolled from three sites. For the study, the team gathered information on sociodemographic and lifestyle factors, took physical measurements and collected blood samples. Like most countries, Uganda is experiencing a rising burden of non-communicable diseases, with the prevalence of hypertension estimated at 27 percent. This project aims to inform future prevention measures in the country.

Value of experience:

This internship gave me the opportunity to help conduct a classic public health study in a global setting. I experienced a new health system and learned about the public health and care provision challenges facing Uganda. I enjoyed talking to study participants about their personal barriers to improved health and counseling them on lifestyle changes. I was also able to travel around Africa in my free time, visiting Kenya, Zimbabwe and Botswana!

Best moment/experience: On my last day of work, I took time to say goodbye to many members of the mosque community, and each person thanked me for my service and asked when I would be coming back to Uganda!

Funding source: Dull Family Summer Internship Fellowship

Bert Hootsmans