Dr. William Lubega is a board-certified Plastic & Cosmetic surgeon, social entrepreneur and computer scientist. While out of theatre, he is into medical entrepreneurship. He is the co-founder and director of clinical services at The Medical Concierge Group Ltd/Rocket Health which promotes telemedicine; where they deliver medical care anywhere. With telemedicine, a patient is able to remotely talk to a doctor, pharmacist or a laboratory technician via phone call, WhatsApp or SMS. Following a teleconsultation with the doctor, a laboratory technician comes to you, draws your blood sample and has your results or prescribed medicine delivered within the confines of your office, home or any place of convenience.
The beauty about his job is that he can easily switch from children who have been burnt, to those with congenital abnormalities like cleft lip, women who would like to have bigger breasts, bosoms, a better-looking face, look lighter, and more. We sat down for a chat: –
When you are not in a cosmetic surgical theatre or serving at The Medical Concierge, how do you spend your time?
Well, I love to travel. I have been to a couple of places. I always tell people that I think I am done with my bucket list. I love to do extreme adventures. I have done skydiving, swum with the sharks, white water rafting, trap door waterslides, parachute, horse riding, hiking and visiting places.
Tell me about your experience of skydiving…
Oh yeah, it is one of those things you say ‘don’t tell my mum I jumped out of the plane’ but skydiving was one of those that initially got me feeling nervous and fearful about it. As the plane picks up and goes up in the sky, you suddenly see the whole world below you and the instructor is like ‘let’s jump’ and all this time you’re thinking, ‘this is the craziest thing I’m doing with my life’…what if the parachute doesn’t open? What if the wind blows us in a different direction? I think skydiving is one of the reckless things I’ve done with my life but I am grateful I did it. I think I can do it again. It was quite an experience.
How much preparation did you have to go through in order to take the dive from the skies?
It has always been one of the things I’ve had on my bucket list and I was hoping that at one point in my life I’ll be able to accomplish so skydiving wasn’t something I had pre-planned. I was in Durban and a friend of mine said that there was a fun place where we could skydive and asked ‘why don’t we go?’ It was the same day I went swimming with the sharks in the Indian Ocean, so when I told one of the skydivers that I had just swam with the sharks, they were like, ‘I can never do that. I can jump out of the plane a zillion times but can’t swim with sharks because they are unpredictable’. Skydiving wasn’t something I planned. I had this long bucket list of things I wanted to do; water rafting, bungee jumping, skydiving, owning a Benz, becoming a plastic surgeon, traveling to many places…but I didn’t know I would be able to achieve this in the time I did. I am now making a new list. When we started telemedicine 10 years ago, people said we couldn’t do it in Uganda but we’ve done it, so sometimes also thinking that what is impossible is possible.
Tell me about your experience swimming with the sharks…
I remember when we were heading out to swim with the sharks, the instructor told us to do shark baits which was scary. I mean, here we are planning to go swim with the sharks in the wild. It is not like a tank where you are swimming with tamed sharks. These were sharks in the wild waters. Initially we were swimming in the cage but when I looked in the ocean, the instructor was swimming with the sharks so they were in their natural habitats. I asked him if I could jump out of the cage and join him…’ the sharks are doing nothing to you’. He said, ‘come on’ so I moved out of the cage where most of my buddies were and went into the ocean waters with the sharks.
What is on your new bucket list?
On my new bucket list, I would like to visit the Maldives. Most people have always reserved it for their honeymoon but it is a place I would like to visit. I haven’t been to Paris. I would love to visit the Eiffel tower. I would like to go to Santorini in Greece, Venice in Italy. I haven’t been to Egypt so I would like to visit the Egyptian pyramids. My new bucket list would be visiting some of the seven wonders of the world, such as The Great Wall China, Roman Colosseum, Petra, Christ The Redeemer statue, Chichen Itza and the Great Pyramid of Giza. I have been to the Taj Mahal so I am hoping to visit the other wonders and take pictures. Perhaps also space travel in my lifetime.
On your bucket list, you make no mention of any travel attraction in Uganda…
I have actually done a bit of local travel. I take off time on weekends with friends to travel to different areas in Uganda. We have been to a number of tourist attractions in West and Southwestern Uganda, like game parks, mountains, crater lakes, hot springs and rivers. I have also been to the Nyero Rock paintings in Eastern Uganda and many more places, so I am one of those people who enjoy doing local tourism.
From your experiences having visited a couple of places around the world, what would you like to see done better in the local tourism sector?
When you go to places, for example I was in India and went to Taj Mahal and I saw many locals doing in-country tours which are not promoted here. We kinda of think that going on a tour or visiting places is very prohibitively expensive so most Ugandans don’t know what areas we have and the beauty there.
It shouldn’t be prohibitive. We can purposely save for holidays. I occasionally go with my friends to Jinja and have tours on the Nile. We purpose our travel.
What makes or breaks your experience on a travel excursion?
When I went white water rafting, I got an injury where I fell into the oar of a paddle and hit my nose. It was hard to access first aid services and as a tourist, it makes it very difficult. I mean, that’s the end of the tour. That’s why at our company- Rocket Health with funding from UNDP – we are trying to have the P.E.A.R.L project, where the tourism sector can leverage telemedicine to improve tourism experience by enabling access to a doctor, pharmacist and lab facilities within your hotel. You are able to dial *280# and access a medical service, be it talking to a doctor, pharmaceutical and lab services in the confines of your hotel. You can order a covid-19 test right in the comfort of your hotel room; someone will come, take your swab and give you your results there.
When you travel, what makes your experience worthwhile?
Growing up in this era of technology, most of the travel sites and experiences have been documented and viewed through the lenses and travel notes of other people. But nothing beats the first-hand experience I feel when I visit a new place with an open mind and take a deep dive into nature, culture, food and individual interactions with the locals. I love to share my presence in the moment on social media with my friends. Sometimes when we travel, we are selfish with these memories that we build over time and experiences, so being able to share enables another person to get information they need to go to a place; it is not prohibitive or difficult to go to a certain place.