In early 2017, Dr. Nico Christofi followed his wife to Uganda, where she was sharing her knowledge and training as a midwife. Curiosity about the local health system led Nico to hitch rides with a local researcher to visit health centres in the area, meeting fellow physicians along the way. Dr. Nico saw first-hand how the drug-shortages and stock outs were affecting the well-being of patients and the capability of health providers to do their job.
During a meeting at a rural, Level 4 Health Clinic, his colleague, Surgeon Dr. Bernard was called out to perform an emergency C-section. Nico watched as Dr. Bernard looked for sutures to begin surgery. There weren’t any. He had to get on a boda boda, or motorbike taxi, and first drive to the District Health Office to obtain signed authorization to take sutures from another clinic. Then he had to drive to other health centres until he found one with equipment they could spare, fill out more paperwork and drive them back to his clinic, where he was finally able to perform the C-section on the waiting mother.
Dr. Nico saw this happen many times over his visit – sometimes a shortage of medicine, sometimes equipment – always affecting the care that health providers were trying so hard to provide. Inefficiencies in the medicine distribution and stock management systems were and are causing loss of productivity and deaths that are preventable.