Michael Otremba, M.D., a 2012 graduate of the School of Medicine and now a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Surgery, has won the award for best documentary feature in the New York Los Angeles International Film Festival.
Otremba’s film, “Twero: The Road to Health,” explores the practice of many Ugandan doctors detaining patients who are unable to pay their bills. Twero means “right to health” in Luo, one of the languages spoken in Uganda. The Ugandan government’s promise of free medical services to all Ugandans “has been very difficult to translate into reality,” Otremba says. “In all my prior research, I had never encountered the phenomenon of clinics being turned into debtors’ prisons. My hope is that the film will be used to advocate for health care reform in all communities where patients are unable to access basic health services.”
Otremba devoted his fifth year of medical school to the project, which combines his interests in human rights and visual arts. He worked under the mentorship of Gretchen K. Berland, M.D., associate professor of medicine and recipient of a MacArthur “genius” grant for her own documentary work.
In August, Otremba’s film was honored by the international Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations consortium, which promotes the creation and distribution of “electronic” thesis projects.