The history of UNC Project-Uganda begins with Dr. Amal Murarka (1969-2003), a faculty physician at UNC-Chapel Hill who was killed in an automobile accident while driving home from the beach. Before joining the faculty at UNC, Dr. Murarka spent a year at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda, where he was part of the team of Ugandan physicians (lead by Dr. Philippa Musoke) that conducted HIV research which ultimately led to the discovery of the first drug to successfully prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV.
Shortly after his death, several of Dr. Murarka’s UNC colleagues established the Amal Murarka International Pediatric Health Foundation. In 2004, the foundation sent a team to Kampala to establish the first pediatric intensive care unit in the country at Mulago Hospital at Makerere University.
Subsequent trips in 2007, 2008, and 2009 focused on pediatric cardiac surgery. The foundation not only built a pediatric cardiac ICU at Mulago, but completed a total of 30 life-saving pediatric cardiac surgeries.
At the end of 2008, the Uganda team formed a partnership with the Institute for Global Health & Infectious Diseases to formally recognize these efforts and establish the UNC Project-Uganda. With support from IGHID, UNC Project-Uganda aims to build on its current programs in order to offer service and research opportunities for UNC faculty and students in service of the children of Uganda.
In 2011, the team returned to Mulago Hospital and continued to improve the care of critically ill children, while also advancing the care of acutely ill and injured children in the Pediatric Acute Care Center at Mulago Hospital.
The UNC Project-Uganda was established to support sustainable delivery of compassionate and competent health care to infants, children, and adolescents in Uganda; to improve the medical knowledge of the Ugandan health care workforce through in-country training and a physician exchange program; and to provide advanced medical equipment, medications, and services necessary for the delivery of compassionate and competent pediatric care in Uganda.
Keith C. Kocis, MD, MS
Founder and Director
Pediatric Cardiac Intensivist
Michael Mill, MD
Pediatric Cardiothoracic Surgeon
Karla Brown, RN, PNP
Surgical Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
Katherine Desrochers, RN
Pediatric Intensive Care Nurse