Welcome to the International Coordination Office

International Student Programme


Makerere University College of Health Sciences (MakCHS) offers medical electives to medical students. Rotations are done in Mulago Hospital and other hospital affiliated to the College located in different parts of Uganda.

One of our main strengths is our ability to attract and partner with reputable Universities and academic institutions from various parts of the world, including Europe, the Americas, and Asia. Through these partnerships, we implement faculty and student exchange programs. 

We have particularly acquired a wealth of experience through hosting over 260 students and residents annually from over 32 Universities all over the world like Northwestern University, University of Washington, University of New Jersey, Oxford University, KingÔÇÖs College of London, McMaster University and others.

In liaison with Clinical Departments in Mulago Hospitals, other Hospitals and Research Coordination office, the International Coordination Office reviews International studentsÔÇÖ applications, residents and teachers visiting School of Medicine. The office is in charge of orientation of International students, attending to their day- to- day needs, organizing clinical placements, language translation, housing, and travel arrangements.


Activities that Students get Involved in

The school offers 4 main programmes: Clinical clerkships in Mulago Hospital (the main teaching hospital), Clerkships in a rural setting like Kayunga Hospital, Community Based Education and Services Programme, Health and Disease field experience and research elective and, the upcoming Global Surgery.


Clinical Clerkships

Through bedside teachings, morning rounds, practical studies and discussions with Physicians, students see a strong demonstration of the importance of taking a patient history without benefit of extensive diagnostic testing.

Clinical clerkships are undertaken under the supervision of experience physicians in Mulago Hospital and other hospitals affiliated to Makerere University.


Laboratory Sessions

In order to equip students with diagnostics skills, the International office organises laboratory sessions in tropical medicine in partnership with laboratory technicians on Ward 4A and 4B.

Students are taught how to diagnose tropical diseases like malaria. Through this student and resident acquire the basic techniques required to stain and culture bacteria as well as those techniques required to study the metabolism, growth and environment influences on bacteria.


Community Based Education and Services (COBES)

Community Based Education and Services (COBES) is an off-campus service learning which combines educational and service objectives and provides real life experiences for students.

Students are posted for community internships along Makerere University students in various hospitals and health centres ranging from District (General) hospitals, missionary hospitals, private hospitals, health centre III, health centre IV and private medical centres through out the country. Students participate in facility and community activities as guided by the medical officer at the health centre.

At COBES sites, students are received by health workers called site tutors who are trained by the Faculty to carry out various roles of coordinating, guiding, supervising and facilitating the learning process. Site Tutors range from medical doctors, clinical offers, Nurses, Dentists, Pharmacists and Family Physicians.

Outreach Programs

  • In partnership with Alive Medical Centre located in Namuwongo, a low-cost residential area in Kampala City, several students get an opportunity to go for an outreach programme in Namuwongo slums giving out food to people infected and affected by HIV/AIDS. Namuwongo is one of the slums in Kampala greatly affected by HIV/AIDS.
  • In Uganda├ö├ç├ûs capital of Kampala, Alive Medical Centre serves the city├ö├ç├ûs poorest and most densely populated areas. The clinic provides free HIV treatment services to approximately 2,000 patients, while over 5,500 await treatment. The organization estimates that 70% of people they reach have been internally displaced from the conflict in Northern Uganda. Additional outreach services include health education and supplies distribution (e.g., condoms, bleach kits to clean syringes, clothes and occasionally food). Through outreach programmes, students appreciate the importance of health education and medical care to smaller communities which have limited access to medical services.


Research Electives

Several students undertake research projects in fulfillment of their elective as a requisite of the international health experience.  At Makerere University College of Health Sciences, students are encouraged to undertake research because it is at the forefront of medicine. In doing so, the overall quality of health care and biomedical science for Uganda will be improved.


Social Classes

In order to appreciate social and economic determinants of health, and the global burden of disease, the ICO organizes classes on cultural and social issues in Uganda, language classes and social activities like traditional engagement parties, cultural dances and visits to cultural sites.

This enhances the studentsÔÇÖ knowledge of the diverse Ugandan cultures, different health belief models and customs, how they impact on different aspects of health care and hence acquire adequate skills to communicate across cultural boundaries appropriate for effective global health care providers.


Volunteer opportunities

The International Coordination Office works closely with orphanages in Kampala where students get opportunity to work and play with the children. The students in partnership with these orphanages are also able to sensitize street children about the dangers of unprotected sex, drugs, etc


Health and Disease Field Course

Makerere University College of Health Sciences in partnership with University of Wisconsin conducts the annual Health and Disease field course, which takes place May 15th to June 8th. Through lectures from different specialists, students are introduced to health and disease in Uganda.

The International Coordination Office organises tours to several units like Mwanamugimu Nutritional Unit, TASO Mulago and Kamwokya Catholic Community Limited (KCCL) where students spend time learning about the various issues that affect health care in Uganda.

Partnerships with Other Universities


Karolinska Institutet

Student exchange in Medicine, Nursing, midwifery and Physiotherapy
Teacher exchange programme in Medicine, Nursing, midwifery and Physiotherapy
Short course in Global Surgery. (Commencing in 2011).
PhD programme.
Dentistry& Speech and Language Therapy to start soon.
Course in Global surgery to start soon

Maastricht University, The Netherlands

Partnership in training Medical students from Maastricht at Makerere.

University of Bergen.

Partnership in training medical students from Bergen twice a year.

Ghent University, Belgium

Partnership of medical students from Ghent University.

Kristianstad University

Student exchange in Nursing Department to start in August.
Staff exchange

University of Brescia, Italy

Teacher exchange

Albert-Ludwig-University Freiburg

Staff exchange in Psychiatry Department.


FUKUI Medical University, Japan

Teacher/ student exchange from Department of Orthopeadics.


University of British Columbia

HPV research.
Surgery training.

McMaster University

ResidentsÔÇÖ exchange program for residents for Anaesthesia, Internal Medicine, Paediatrics and Obstetrics and Gyneacology.
Medical student training.
Specialized training for Physicians at McMaster University.

United States of America

Case Western Reserve University, School of Medicine.

Partnership in training Makerere University staff in Bioethics.

Wisconsin University

Health and Disease field course.
Medical electives.

Yale Medical School

Teacher exchange. 
Medical students├ö├ç├û exchange. 
Resident exchange programme. 

Des Moines University, Iowa U.S.A

Medical Student exchange

University of California San Francisco

Training residents at Makerere (Medicine).
Collaborative research in Malaria
Trauma management among police. (Surgery).

University of Minnesota

Medical student exchange programme
Collaborative research
Teacher exchange programme in Peadiatrics Department

Northwestern University

Partnership in training Medical students in COBES and International Health.

Columbia University

Teacher/student exchange in Paediatrics Department.


Ben- Gurion University, Isreal

Partnership in training Medical students from Ben-Gurion at Makerere University.


Why study at Makerere University

The biggest University in East Africa with a mission to provide innovative teaching, learning, research and services responsive to National and Global needs, Makerere University offers a broad range of academic actvities in a resource constrained enviroment. The University has 35,000 undergraduate students and 3,500 graduate students.

Formed in 2008, College of Health Sciences offers the best international programs through Mulago Hospital; the main teaching hospital and other hospitals affiliated to the college.  Through these programs;

  • International students and Makerere students are trained to adopt easily in future, to emerging health challenges of human resource-poor countries. This is so because students and Faculty get opportunities to gain real world experience in international medicine.
  • Due to many innovations at the College of Health Sciences, research opportunities and clinical clerkships available in the hospital, Students, residents and Faculty get life changing exposure and a breadth of cultural, social, political, and clinical experiences that are not available within their own countries.
  •  The friendliness of staff and students at the College of Health Sciences fosters a conducive environment for student to learn.
  • Students and Residents get hands -on experience in doing field studies and problems one may encounter in sampling, compliance, translation of interview questionnaires and use of interpreters and doing qualitative research.


Life at Mulago Hospital

A typical day on the wards. . .
8:00am ÔÇô Lectures, frequently peer teaching from house staff with an attending overseeing the lecture.
9:00am ÔÇô Ward rounds with house staff, medical students and attending physician, rounds typically last until 12-1pm.
1:00pm ├ö├ç├┤ Lunch.  House staff frequently takes lunch at 1pm, with teaching rounds by attending in the afternoon or clinic depending on what rotation the student is on.

The schedule varies from day to day depending on the individual team, the visiting lecturers and the day of the week. 


Out -patient Clinics

Clinics are located in the Clinic Building at the South end of the hospital on the 4th floor.  Clinics are packed with patients who are seen by house staff and students, who then present to the attending or senior house staff.  You are highly encouraged to attend clinics.  Clinic start times vary.  Find out from the clerk at check-in for accurate information.  In general, clinics start when the first resident/attending arrives, and end when the last patient is seen.


Life in Kampala

Kampala is very friendly indeed and, unlike many thriving, modern cosmopolitan cities - and Kampala is all that, you are never far from a warm smile or relaxed greeting, and your wish to walk the streets is not daunted by any worries of intimidation or street violence

Cinemas, Casinos, nightclubs and musical events are options that can be explored depending on an individualÔÇÖs interests. Some popular pubs include:

  • Just Kicking Sports Bar at Kisementi in Kamwokya,
  • Fat Boys ├ö├ç├┤ Kisementi, Kamwokya
  • Rhino Pub, Sheraton Hotel
  • O├ö├ç├ûLeary ├ö├ç├┐s, Kololo
  • Rock Garden CafÔö£┬« - Speke Hotel
  • Blue Bar, Crested Towers
  • Club Rouge, Kampala Rd
  • BJ├ö├ç├ûs Irish Bar & Restaurant, 2nd Street Industrial Area



There are three main religious hills - Lubaga Hill where the Headquarters of the Catholic faith is; Namirembe Hill which provides the Headquarters of the British Church Missionary Society/Anglican Church, while Kibuli Hill Headquarters the main Muslim Mosque.

Set Up of Kampala
Nakasero Hill and Kololo Hill provide administrative offices, diplomatic residential areas and residential areas for affluent locals, and Makerere Hill is home to the Makerere University main campus. Mengo Hill, where the Buganda King's Palace was situated, provided a reception point for foreign missionaries arriving in Uganda. Kampala Hill (Hill of the antelopes - Ka Impala), after which the city was named provided the fort.

 what to do while here


Uganda, "the Pearl of Africa," is a small landlocked East African country on the shores of Lake Victoria, the source of the Nile.

Uganda:  the Country and its People

Uganda lies between the two arms of the Great Rift Valley in East Africa and is crossed by the equator. It borders with Kenya to the East, Sudan to the North, DRC to the West and Tanzania and Rwanda to the south. Uganda lies on the Great African Plateau with an average altitude of 4000 ft (1200M) above the sea level. Elevated areas are the Rwenzori Mountains (5000m) with permanent snow cover and Mount Elgon (4300m).

  • Area

Total area is 242,139sq km, of which 42,000sq km (17%) is swamps and open fresh water bodies and 30, 000 sq km (12%) is forest reserves and game parks.

  • Climate

UgandaÔÇÖs climate is equatorial but it is tempered by its elevated altitude. The average annual temperature is between 20 and 26 degrees centigrade over much of the country although 5 degrees centigrade in South Western and 35 degrees centigrade in the North and North East can be recorded.

Average annual rainfall is 1000mm in most parts of the country with the rainy seasons taking place in April/May and October/November. The wettest season takes place between March/April and hottest months in the year are from December to February when the temperatures reach 29 degrees centigrade.  Most of Uganda is green all year round.

  • A few facts on Health and Development

Life expectancy in Uganda is 51 years for men and 53 years for women. This is a decrease from previous life expectancy, and is largely due to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the country. The fertility rate in Uganda is one of the highest in the world: 6.8 children per woman, leading to a population growth of 3.6% per year. This also means that there are a lot of children: 50% of the population in Uganda is under 15 years of age. Infant mortality is 66 deaths per 1,000 live births.

Although it is technically free to see a government doctor in Uganda, fees for pharmaceuticals and diagnostic tests are common. As a result, poorer people often wait until their diseases are advanced to seek medical attention. Some of the common illnesses in Uganda are HIV/AIDS and its opportunistic infections, TB and malaria, as well as a plethora of other infectious diseases uncommon in developed countries.  One of the major challenges Uganda is facing is a severe shortage of physicians, especially in rural areas. Many physicians who train in Uganda leave to practice medicine elsewhere, enticed by much higher wages and easier lifestyles.

  • Education in Uganda

Uganda's literacy rate in 2002 was 77% for men and 58% for women. Primary education is free but of variable quality. Free Secondary education is currently implemented in a few secondary schools. In 2000, 49% of Ugandan boys had completed primary education, and 25% of girls, but only 13% of boys and 7% of girls had completed secondary education.  This disparity between men and women continues to the university level. 

Approximately 30% of the current medical students at Makerere University are female, though the number of female physicians is increasing. University fees are out of reach of most people although there is government sponsorship available for those who score very highly in exams.



Uganda├ö├ç├ûs official language is English, although Swahili is also being debated as a potential national language.  Most educated Ugandans can speak some form of English. Luganda is the language which is most widely spoken in Uganda, but mostly in Central, Near Eastern and South Western Uganda. It is the mother tongue of the Buganda people of the Central region and are very predominant around Kampala. English is left over from Luo and other languages are used in the North and there are dozens of other tribal languages throughout the country. 


Money and Banking

The currency used is the Uganda Shilling. There are quite a number of international banks that you could use for money transactions: Barclays Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, and Stanbic Bank.

Several ATM machines accept major debit cards. These include ATM Machines for the Standard Chartered Bank, Orient Bank, Crane Bank, Stanbic Bank and Barclays Bank; they all accept Visa and Visa Electron Cards. Credit cards are largely not used in Uganda ÔÇôVisa and American Express are accepted only in big upmarket hotels (usually with a relatively high transaction fee). Please inform your bank that you are travelling to Uganda, so that you do not get problems when withdrawing money with use of ATM while in Uganda.

Money can be obtained through a VISA advance at Barclays bank with a 10% charge. Foreign Exchange Bureaus are readily accessible and offer competitive exchange rates. Most of them are open until 5.00pm, including Saturdays but the Crane Forex Bureau at Speke Hotel is open until 8.30pm every day.

Please bring USD, GBP, Euros and other major currencies in big denominations, $100 and $50 bills are preferable. Bills smaller than $50 are bought by the Forex Bureau at a lower exchange rate; 20% less than what you would get for 50 and 100 $ bills.). Cashing travellerÔÇÖs cheques is charged a minimum of 10% service.

The preferred means of payment is cash for most transactions in Uganda.


What to wear

A modest dress code should be followed at all times.  An umbrella, raincoat, sturdy shoes and jacket are recommended for the wet season.

In general, dress modestly and conservatively, as you would in the clinic or the hospital setting in your home country. Do not wear jeans, shorts, sneakers, sports t-shirts, or overly tight or revealing clothing in the hospital.  Bring eye protection, especially if you are on OB/GYN or surgery, even if you already wear glasses.

For women

*Skirts with lengths to or below the knee, or dress trousers (cotton or linen or synthetic blends are ok), with a blouse, shirt, or sweater.
*Nice shoes (many students wear ballet-flat style) or sandals.  At least one pair of closed-toe shoes is recommended.  You may also consider wearing Dansko's or other clogs, especially if you will be walking a lot or standing in the operating theater.  If you are on OB/Gyn, bring a pair of Crocs or Dansko's and foot covers.
*Scrubs (if on surgery or OB/GYN)-check with the international office about what to wear when you are introduced to your team. However you may want to bring scrubs with you on the first day.

For men
*Trousers (including nice comfortable khakis), with an ironed shirt (with or without tie)
*Comfortable Shoes


  • Other suggestions

*Iron your clothes and white coats, and polish your shoes if you are able to, as this is a sign of respect to both your patients and colleagues in the hospital.
*Many of you will be walking to the hospital and your shoes might get quite dusty or muddy.  Consider wearing a pair of walking shoes to work and keeping a pair of shoes to wear in the hospital in your bag or in the International Coordination Office with Susan.  Or, you could keep a cloth to wipe your shoes in the office.  You may also consider bringing a shoe shiner (i.e. the Kiwi brand express shoe shine sponge), which is everywhere in the US, but impossible to find in Uganda.

Health and Safety

Travel precautions and tips:

  • Scams: Thefts are the major ├ö├ç┬úscams├ö├ç├ÿ you will encounter, including pick-pockets in crowds, such as at soccer matches, and thefts from parked vehicles or vehicles stuck in traffic.  Also, take care when doing any online banking or purchases in Uganda, as there has been an increase in fraud involving wire transfers, credit cards, checks etc.
  • You may consider arranging for travel insurance that has theft insurance for electronics or other valuables.
  • A money belt is especially nice when traveling long distances. 
  • Be careful around blood draws (high HIV infection risk)
  • Avoid running through grass trails as there are lots of cobras and mambas in rural Uganda.  Stick to the main roads unless you are walking slowly and making a lot of noise. 
  • Avoid walking alone at night, especially in isolated, dark places.
  • Be respectful around armed guards and military personnel. 
  • In small towns, avoid traveling with large denomination bills├ö├ç├┤ it may be much easier for the seller of some item/shopkeeper to raise the price of whatever item you are purchasing than to find your change.
  • Keep away from scenes of violence and violent protests
  • Try as much as possible to keep away from crowded places that may be a target for terror attacks. Likewise, report any suspicious packages and parcels in your vicinity.

Local resources

  • Robbery, crime: contact site coordinator, local police.
  • Stolen passport: contact Embassy of your country.
  • Civil unrest: check with your embassy to see what arrangement they have in place for your protection and safety. 


  • Avoid using Boda Boda cycles (motorcycle taxis); they are a leading cause of accidents, injuries and deaths.
  • When using public transport from a Bus or Taxi Park, do not let the ├ö├ç┬úbaggage handlers├ö├ç├ÿ touch your suitcase; you may have to tip them generously to rescue your baggage. 


How to get from the airport to your site
Please make sure Susan Nassaka (International Office Coordinator at Makerere University College of Health Sciences) knows when you are coming and confirm a few days beforehand, so that she can have a driver waiting for you at the airport.  Feel free to tip the driver $7-$10.  

Typical costs of basic items

  • Food budget: 50,000-70,000 UgSh/week (up to 100,000 depending on how much you eat out) 
  • 1L water=1,000 UgS.
  • Transport:  20,000- 50,000Ug Shillings per week depending on how much you use taxis.
  • Accommodation: 25,000- 50,000 Ug. Shillings per night.

Items which you may wish to bring

  • Gloves - variably available on the wards
  • Respirator masks - Hand sanitizer ├ö├ç├┤ wash basins are not readily available in the hospital and where present there is frequently no soap or towel.
  • Antiretroviral medications for post-exposure prophylaxis, BP machine, stethoscope, ophthalmoscope, and patella hammer.
  • Donations (Please carry as much as you can for donation).
  • Nasal Prongs (for adults)
  • Oxygen masks (for adults- non-breathing )
  • Pulse Oxi metres
  • Asthma and COPD medicines ( inhalers)
  • Portable blood pressure machines.
  • Digital thermometres.
  • Spacers
  • Peakflow metres
  • Masks- N95
  • Blood pressure cuff links.
  • Gloves.

One can also choose to visit one of the many game parks in the country or spend a leisurely afternoon watching cultural dancers at Ndere Troupe Center in Ntinda, near the City Centre.

Application process

In case you are interest in undertaking medical electives:
Step I: Download the application form from the website or write to the International Coordinator to send you an application form.

Step: II: Send the filled-in application form and all required documents to the Coordinator.

Step III: The Coordinator will send you an acceptance letter
Step: IV:  Send flight details to the Coordinator
For details contact : internationaloffice@chs.mak.ac.ug