Chai with Sarah

by Dena Thomas, Monitoring and Evaluations Intern.


Laboratory Medicine is one of the most common – if not the most common modality used for the diagnoses of patients entering a health care facility. Even in resource stricken regions around the globe, a rudimentary medical laboratory often exist to detect common diseases like malaria, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and other sexually transmitted infections. I sat down with Shanti Uganda’s medical laboratory technician Sarah Makawande to discuss her roles and responsibilities at the birthing center.


IMG_0735 (sadie st.denis's conflicted copy 2015-02-25)

Did you grow up around this district Sarah with your family?

I grew up in a nearby town called Nakasongola, with my mother, father, and six siblings (four boys and two girls). I am the eldest of the girls in my family. I did all my schooling from P1 to S6 in Nakasongola, and then spent two years training in medical laboratory sciences at Kiwoko Hospital. It is a great learning center and I met lots of interesting people there.

How did you hear about this position at Shanti Uganda?

I had a friend named Danielle who was leaving his posting at Shanti to continue his studies in Kenya. I applied for the position and got it. I’ve been here for six months now and like it because it’s not too stressful, it’s a quiet and peaceful environment, and the staff are nice to work with. I also like it because I am promised a paycheck at the end of the month and I get it on time – unlike other health care centers here in Uganda.

Let’s dream a bit Sarah. If you or I had a million dollars to spend on the lab, what would you have done?

First off I would paint all surfaces white, so that I can be sure that all areas are clean. For example, if blood was splattered, I would see that it needed cleaning with a nice white surface. I would also tile the floors as it is better than concreate.

Secondly, I would buy lots of new equipment that would increase the services we provide here at in the lab.  I would buy a hemocue machine, which would detect conditions like anemia…etc. That machine would cost about 1.5-2M UGS which is about 450 CND. I would buy a new fridge that would be able to run off the solar power we generate here at Shanti. Currently it cannot run because we don’t have enough power to run it. Things like reagents, vaccinations and medicine that needs to be cold stored would have a place if we had a working fridge. I would also buy an autoclave or sterilization oven so that slides, urinalysis containers and other equipment can be cleaned properly. And then I would buy an agitator which is helpful when we do our blood testing. I would like to see routine blood testing’s like CBC’s, WBC, RBC, platelets, thrombolytic testing, sputum analysis for TB diagnosis and electrolyte testing available for our community.

Finally, I would like to go for some continuing medical education where I can learn the latest best practices and apply them to the lab here at Shanti. Oh, also, I would also replace the light bulb in the ceiling (laughing and pointing upward)!

Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time Sarah?

I would like to be married to my (boy)friend named Abel, who I have been seeing for two years now.  I would still like to be working at Shanti. Eventually I would like to also go back to school to continue growing in my profession of laboratory medicine. Mulago Hospital trains people very well so perhaps I will have the opportunity to further my studies there.

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