Travelling to Uganda

25th January 2024 by Dr. Laura Hobbs

About the Author: Dr. Laura Hobbs

Dr Laura Hobbs is a NIHR Clinical Research Fellow within the NIHR Global Health Research Group on Acquired Brain and Spin Injury, and a Consultant Anaesthetist at East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust. She is primarily based within the International Health Systems group in the Department of Engineering at the University of Cambridge (, and works with partners in Uganda and the World Health Organisation’s Trauma Operational and Advisory Team.

Travelling to Uganda

My research focus is to understand the pathways of care for patients with brain and spine injury, and the role of non-healthcare workers such as family and community members in the care of patients who are unwell or injured both in the community and in hospital.

We collaborate with partners in Uganda including clinicians and academics at the University of Makerere, Mbarara University of Science and Technology, the Uganda UK Health Alliance (UUKHA), Association of Anaesthesiologists of Uganda (AAU), Mulago National Referral Hospital and Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital.

In January 2024 I was part of a group of 6 researchers from the International Health Systems group travelling to Uganda. During this visit we undertook several activities including a workshop with healthcare workers in Mbarara RRH in collaboration with our local colleagues. This was a fantastic opportunity to understand how the healthcare system works for those patients affected by brain and spinal injury in a second setting, building on previous work in Kampala last year. We also learned of the fantastic work being done to improve care for patients, including a new neurosurgical HDU, and the inspiring people who have set it up.

The journey from Kampala to Mbarara takes about 5 hours, travelling through some of the beautiful countryside of rural Uganda. Whilst travelling we could directly see some of the challenges faced by victims of trauma, including poor road conditions and long travelling times to reach hospital.

Community Engagement

Back in Kampala I worked with our colleague Henry at UUKHA to meet some fantastic community representatives to talk about our upcoming research plans, including reviewing our participant information leaflets and discussing how to access hard to reach members of the community. I was given a tour of the ‘SafeBoda Academy’ where there is a focus on education and road safety including helmet and high visibility jacket provision. These meetings have already led to some very positive discussions on our work, and formed relationships which we hope to continue throughout the research.

Visits like this are essential to our work. The relationships we build and foster with our colleagues and through community engagement enables thoughtful and impactful research that is designed in collaboration with those for whom it most benefits.

Future work is already planned to include recruitment of Ugandan Research Fellows, quantitative data collection and a reciprocal visit to Cambridge for our research collaborators.