I just returned from two busy and incredible weeks of Design Research for IBM Health Corps in partnership with the American Cancer Society and the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI). There is too much to put into one blog post, so I’m sharing highlights.
The first part of the trip was spent in Kampala, Uganda where I visited with oncologists, pharmacists and students in a learning hospital. My goal was to learn more about how these professionals treat cancer in Sub-Saharan African settings.
There are many reasons why access to cancer treatment can be limited in Sub-Saharan Africa, including the patients limited ability to pay. The situation changes from day-to-day as back ordered drugs arrive, machines are fixed, etc. In the morning there can be a huge amount of people waiting on benches or outside on the veranda. The patients know they will be seen, but they cannot make an appointment time, they can only pick a date, due to the unreliable transportation situation in Kampala.
Cancer is often diagnosed late in Sub-Saharan Africa and this challenge is one that these NGO’s will be working on. But in the meantime, they have had significant success with improvement of pain treatment. The availability of morphine meant that despite advanced stages of cancer, and cramped conditions, wards were calm and everyone seemed comfortable.
We spent two days at Amboseli National Park is located in Loitoktok District, in the Rift Valley Province of Kenya. What a lovely break to visit with an incredible array of animals. I still cannot believe our luck in seeing so many animals. Elephants, zebras, gazelle, lions(!), monkeys and more. Mt. Kilimanjaro was an ever present, and impressive backdrop to our adventures. While we were only there for the weekend, I can safely say that is all you need (given great weather and incredible luck with animal sightings).
Design Thinking Workshop
Once we arrived in Nairobi, Kenya it was time for me to lead a design thinking workshop with oncologists. It was wonderful to work so closely with these physicians and to work to understand the problems they are facing on a daily basis in treating cancer. I look forward to using these experiences to support the IBM Health Corp teams to ensure that we are making great experiences for our partners.
If you would like to learn more about my experiences, I talked about my initial IBM Health Corps experience last week at the UXDC Conference in Washington, DC and I wrote a blog entry about that experience on the IBM Health Corps blog.