Meet Dr Michael Ssonko, Uganda's first geriatrician.
Now read how the people of the Manning were involved in Dr Ssonko achieving his goal to set up the very first geriatric service in his home country.
Four years ago Rotarians in Taree hosted a group study exchange team of Rotarians from Uganda.
Not long afterwards the late Bill Richardson from Halliday's Point - a strong Rotary supporter - approached Maurie Stack of the Rotary Club of Taree on Manning about a plan to create the very first geriatric service in Uganda.
The club jumped at the opportunity.
Bill was friends with Professor Vasi Naganathan, a Consultant Geriatrician at Concord Hospital, who had for years been mentoring Dr Michael Ssonko, an aspiring geriatrician from Uganda.
Michael had a passion to set up the very first geriatric service in Uganda but there was a problem. He didn't have the necessary formal qualifications.
This project demonstrates the global reach of Rotary- Maurie Stack, chair of The Rotary Foundation Australia
A project was developed for Michael to study at Cape Town University in South Africa. Maurie approached the Rotary club of Newlands in Cape Town to assist and an application was successfully made for a large grant from The Rotary Foundation to help fund the study.
Fast forward three years and Michael has now passed his subspecialty examinations in Geriatric Medicine with the Colleges of Medicine of South Africa.
Michael is currently completing his research at the University of Cape Town with a view to obtaining his degree as a Master of Philosophy - MPhil in Geriatric Medicine. He expects to complete that research by the end of January 2022 when he will return home to Uganda.
Michael's vision is to open an ageing centre or institute at Makerere University at or near Mulago Hospital, the largest public hospital in Uganda. This would spearhead integration and promotion of geriatric medicine through training (students having rotations), research and enhancing evidence based clinical care to older adults.
Michael hopes to persuade the university to set up a division of Geriatric Medicine - to pursue integration of geriatric medicine into the undergraduate curriculum and hopefully create a core geriatric team of three members to provide treatment to the elderly.
"This project demonstrates the global reach of Rotary," said Maurie Stack who is now the Chair of Rotary Foundation Australia.
"Through the funding of The Rotary Foundation and an organisation of 1.2 million members in virtually every country in the world, a small Rotary club in Taree - with the strong support of Professor Vasi Nagathan of Concord Hospital - has been able to make a dramatic change to the lives of elderly people in Uganda."
"Anyone interested in supporting us can google www.rotaryfoundationaustralia.org.au - or just speak to any local Rotarian." For more information phone 0427 668 821.
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