James D. Plumb, MD, Reaches Out to Hospice Uganda
Wonder about the challenges and benefits of living and working in a “shrinking” world?
Just ask James D. Plumb, MD, Director of the Center for Palliative Care in the Department of Family Medicine, Thomas Jefferson University, and Associate Vice President of Community Health for the Jefferson Health System.
Since 1993, Dr. Plumb, who is also Clinical Associate Professor of Family Medicine, Jefferson Medical College (JMC), visits the African nation of Uganda two or three times a year to consult with Hospice Uganda, a grassroots program serving that nation’s terminally ill.
First invited by the Anglican Church of Uganda to consult about care for the dying, Dr. Plumb helped introduce much needed pain management techniques into the medical education system. He now helps raise funds for Hospice Uganda and helps bring other volunteer doctors and residents to Uganda.
Exchange programs he created bring JMC seniors to Uganda for community health work and undergraduate sociology students from Bryn Mawr College.
Although Uganda is poor, Dr. Plumb says health professionals in America have much to learn from their Ugandan counterparts.
“It’s amazing what Uganda has accomplished with limited resources,” he says. “Much of that advancement has to do with true community caring and support – something that doesn’t depend on a budget or a grant.”
“Leaders from the Uganda AIDS community have been tapped for world positions in Africa and Southeast Asia, particularly in South Africa and Thailand.
And the Ugandan president was first in the world to create an AIDS Commission.”
“We’re so insulated, so privileged. We can easily fall into the trap of focusing so narrowly that we lose the big picture. My time in Uganda has shown me larger public health and policy issues to address, issues that relate to not just how we care for individuals, but how we treat entire communities and populations.”
Editor’s Note: Adapted from an article by Beth D’Addono in Hospital News and supplemented by an interview with JeffNEWS.