It was on a silent evening of Wednesday December 20, 2017 when the Makerere University School of Public Health (MakSPH) family convened at the Lawns Restaurant, Kololo in Kampala Uganda to recognize and thank all the past MakSPH Leadership. This one of a kind event was held in form of an end of year 2017 dinner for the school. ‘It was my first time to be amidst and freely mingle with so many Professors, Doctors and other medical practitioners. This dinner indeed brought together a concentration of PHDs and Doctorates among others’. Shared Engineer Ronald Kayiwa, a MakSPH Project staff. Details about MakSPH are shared and accessible on http://www.musph.ac.ug/.
It was not only fine-looking to see the extremely busy MakSPH staff get together at the same time, but we were also honored to have with us and celebrate all the six MakSPH previous Directors and Deans. If I may share the line-up, we had Professors Josephine Nambooze, John Tuhe Kakitahi, Gilbert Bukenya, Fred Wabwire-Mangeni, David Serwadda and William Bezeyo who was recently replaced by Associate Professor Rhoda Wanyenze. Like it is clearly indicative in the MakSPH Leadership, its success has not only been as a result of the hard work of male leaders but also the females who have continued to spice-up MakSPH operations.
After our guests had arrived, taken their seats and been served a drink of choice, the National and Makerere University anthems were sang in honor of Uganda and Makerere University respectively. The gathering was blessed with an Opening Prayer by Gladys Khamili, one of the MakSPH female staff and this was preceded by remarks from the Organizing Committee delivered by Prof. Garimoi Orach, MakSPH Deputy Dean. He welcomed all to the informal get together and also recognized the presence of the Makerere University Main Campus Leadership noting that ‘It is on rare occasions that one invites all the Main Campus Leadership and you actually have more or less all of them represented, this MakSPH Dinner in recognition of past leadership is one of those rare occasions. Thank you all for honoring our invitation’. With a lot of humor, Prof. Orach called all to relax and enjoy the ambience, music, nice set-up, food and drinks among others. He also thanked the MakSPH 2017 Dinner Organizing Committee commending the team for a job well done, to a big applauds from all participants! ‘Thank you all for putting together excellent ideas and efforts towards yet another uniquely coined event’, he noted with a smile!
Associate Professor Rhoda Wanyenze, Dean MakSPH alluded to Prof. Orach’s remarks adding that it was exciting for her to have been part of MakSPH and more so to have witnessed the growth of the School as a student, staff and now its Leader. ‘Let us all always aim at helping one another, working together for growth and maintaining the quality of our work’ she stressed. Associate Professor Wanyenze also warmly and happily welcomed all to the evening networking session noting that it is important for us to always get together and recognize the efforts of the past leadership but also engage to unwind and shade off work related thoughts especially as yet another successful year 2017 came to an end.
Prof. Charles Ibingira, the Principal, Makerere University College of Health Sciences (MakCHS) which houses MakSPH and School of Health Sciences, School of Medicine, School of Bio-Medical Sciences, Infectious Diseases Institute and Child Health and Development Center later also added his voice to those of the previous speakers noting that MakSPH is one of those schools which has greatly contributed to the steady growth of not only the College of Heath Sciences but also of Makerere University as a whole. He noted and shared that there is a lot of work which goes on at MakSPH and this work usually yields very juicy fruits for the communities in need, Uganda, Africa and the Globe at large. Also in his remarks, Prof. Ibingira said ‘Let me also take this opportunity to request the MakSPH fraternity to be more inclusive, by this I mean that let us always strive to further grow and develop together as the College of Health Sciences and as Makerere University, do not grow alone, pass on those unique growth skills to all so that we develop at the same pace. In so doing, we are in position to create bigger impact and also attract bigger resource envelopes’.
It was also during this event where the Higher Degrees Research & Ethics Committee head Dr. Susan Kiwanuka also recognized and thanked some of the long serving yet committed committee members. Among those who received these awards were; Dr. John Ssempebwa, Former Chair in recognition of exemplary leadership on the Higher Degrees, Research and Ethics Committee at MakSPH 2011-2013, Prof. Fred Wabwire-Mangeni, Former Chair also in recognition of exemplary leadership 2001-2010 and Dr. Hannah Kibuuka, Outstanding Performer 2009-2017. In addition, Mr. Stephen Owarwe, a retired MakSPH staff was also recognized and thanked for all his efforts towards diligently serving the school. His token of appreciation was for his dedicated service and commitment to the institute and School of Public Health, Makerere University as a Laboratory Technician 1978-2017. Wow, this is indeed a long serving and committed staff! Mr. Rudolf Buga, MakSPH Laboratory Technician was also applauded for being one of the long serving and diligent MakSPH staff.
Just before the past MakSPH leaders were recognized, the different departments including MakSPH projects also verbally nominated and choose one member to be recognized for outstanding performance. Departments joined in this exercise under the guidance of the Mistress and Master of Ceremony. Department of Health Policy Planning and Management (HPPM) recognized Doreen Tuheebwe, Disease Control identified and thanked Dr. David Musoke, Community Health and Behavioral Sciences thanked Dr. Elizabeth Nabiwemba, Epidemiology and Biostatistics recognized Prof. Nazarius Mbona Tumwesigye, the Finance team chose and thanked Zuriah Namakula, Administration thanked Max Walusimbi and from the support staff in specific drivers, Isaac Mutebi was recognized. Details about the departments at MakSPH are shared on http://musph.ac.ug/index.php/accordion-1/247-departments-at-maksph.
The climax of this event was the actual gist of the matter for which the event was organized and held; recognition of the past MakSPH leadership. Dear Reader, allow me take this opportunity to share with you a snap shot of what each of the past leader had to share, I hope you are enjoying reading! As listed above, all the 6 previous MakSPH deans received tokens of appreciation for their dedicated service and commitment to the Institute of Public Health which is now the School of Public Health amidst aw, jubilation and ululation.
From the youngest Former Dean MakSPH as he was referred to at the event, Prof. William Bazeyo as he received his token of appreciation noted that ‘We look forward to seeing the school rolling’. He served the school as Dean between 2009 and 2017. Prof. Bazeyo also spoke as Makerere University’s Acting Deputy Vice Chancellor and like he has also said and also written, ‘Be a Contribution’ is his catch phrase, also referring to the book ‘The Carrot’. ‘Leave a trail wherever you are, if none of these colleagues who served MakSPH contributed to MakSPH, then we would not be here today recognizing efforts towards the successes of the school’ Prof. Bazeyo strongly noted. He also thanked the current MakSPH leadership for thinking out of the box noting that it is important for us all to be leaders of change. Prof. Bazeyo urged all to support the current MakSPH Dean Associate Prof. Wanyenze and team so that we can all continue contributing to further building MakSPH. He thanked all those who worked with him during his tenure highlighting the Heads of Departments, Deputy Dean, Finance Management Unit and all staff both teaching and non- teaching/ support. ‘Thank you all for joining us in proposal writing, it is the way to go. MakSPH cannot be beaten by any other school wherever, this I assure you with confidence. Let us keep Makerere University’s and in particular the College of Health Sciences School of Public Health flag flying high’. He ended his remarks by sharing a famous saying in Runyankole translated into English to show his commitment to growing MakSPH that ‘Where you hide your mother when they are looking for her to kill, you do not shine there light’.
Prof. David Serwadda, also a senior HIV/AIDS researcher in Uganda who was in service as Dean MakSPH the years 2003 to 2009 thanked Prof. Nambooze for laying a strong foundation for MakSPH. He also thanked Prof, Bukenya for recruiting him and applauded Prof. Bazeyo for working very well with MakSPH. In addition, he noted that Prof. Bazeyo as his Deputy Dean then attended all the meetings he was sent to. He said ‘Ladies and Gentlemen, join me to sincerely thank the Makerere University Main Campus Management team for always being very supportive to MakSPH’.
Prof. Fred Wabwire-Mangen, infectious diseases epidemiologistserved as Director of the Institute of Public Health from 1998 to 2003. He also thanked all his colleagues for making his life and work easy singling the efforts of Dr. Christine Zirabamuzaale and Dr. Olico Okwi a.k.a OO (both these were in attendance) for openly sharing with him leadership and management skills which enabled him excel while in office and even now in life.
Just before Prof. Wabwire-Mangen was Prof. Gilbert Bukenya who also worked as the then Director Institute of Public Health between 1988 and 1991. Prof. Bukenya is also a Professor of health systems development. He said ‘I am happy to see School of Public Health growing and the young people taking on leadership. This makes me proud!’ A strong foundation was set by the earlier leaders, we all agreed to build on this foundation and thus the planned MakSPH building needs to be bigger in size so that Public Health specialists among others can easily and excellently work to address community challenges and tell what is happening in the country. ‘I want you researchers for example to investigate into why there are many road accidents now than ever. Challenge the system so that we get better things for the country. Thank you Prof. Nambooze for keeping all running very well. I am proud that all these ladies and gentlemen came and diligently served MakSPH’. He urged all to continue serving Makerere University and MakSPH in particular highlighting that the young fellow should aim higher and hit it. ‘The world will end when Public Health is still fashionable, I am happy to see Public Health in action’ he added.
Prof. John Tuhe Kakitahi who is also a nutritionist served the Institute of Public Health from 1988 to 1991. He said that he was also delighted to see MakSPH growing. ‘I see a transformation of what I remember those days. Merry Christmas and may MakSPH grow continuously to greater heights’ he shared.
Prof. Josephine Nambooze, the then Head and Director of the Department of Preventive Medicine and Institute of Public Health, Makerere University was equally excited to have been able to join colleagues in the event. She also spoke on behalf of the past leaders. She noted that such an event was expected many years ago to bring together the MakSPH family. She also shared that during her time, she ran the department and later institute as he personal business. ‘As if those days many people used to look down on Public Health but I used to solicit funding support for MakSPH from everywhere and everyone. Step by step, all the time, I strongly said to everyone and everywhere that Public Health must remain at the forefront. We were in Kasangati (one of the Kampala suburbs) then and I thank all those who supported Public Health nationally, regionally and internationally. MakSPH started as a Department of Preventive Medicine, it was later upgraded to an Institute of Public Health then to the great School of Public Health. ‘It is always exciting for me to tell the story of the beginning of this school and obviously it is wonderful to meet all you dear colleagues’ Prof. Nambooze added.
Dr. Eria HIsali, with expertise in International Economics, Financial Economics and Monetary Economics among others serving Makerere University as the Principal College of Business and Management Sciences (CoBAMS) represented the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe at this event. He read out the Vice Chancellor’s speech sharing among others that the Makerere University Main Campus office doors are open and will remain open to offer support to all university entities including the College of Health Sciences School of Public Health among others. Pro. Nawangwe in his speech thanked the past leadership and current Dean of MakSPH for the work well done! He also noted that ‘Makerere University management has laid out and is committed to three pillars of brand and quality of service delivery, institutional and human resources capacity development and financial sustainability to guide the direction of the university. I am challenging all of you to take interest in these initiatives and make a contribution to the growth of Makerere University’ Prof. Nawangwe’s remarks emphasized. He congratulated and thanked the MakSPH current Dean and staff for deeming it fit to recognize the MakSPH past leadership-men and women but also once again for the good work thus far. A big thank you to this event organizers for excellently putting this together. Specifically, he thanked the immediate past Dean Prof. William Bazeyo for his unique contribution to the school and good working relationship the entire university has enjoyed. It is important that we share challenges at all levels and find workable solutions together, he advised. He urged all to continue learning from the past leaders’ good practices and make their own contribution. ‘Thank you colleagues at MakSPH for the contribution that you have continued to make to the university. We owe a large part of our good rankings in research to the hard and good work of the team at MakSPH’ he noted. He also thanked Engineer Doctor Wana-Etyem for accepting to grace the event as Chief Guest wile wishing all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2018.
Chairman Makerere University Appointments Board, Mr. Bruce Kabaasa shared that he observes from the past leadership to now, the research agenda seems to take central stage in the work at the school. He therefore challenged the current MakSPH Dean to have more staff dedicated research than teaching. ‘Could we have 70% of staff time allocated to research and 30% to teaching as yet another innovation at MakSPH?’ he asked.
The Chief Guest at this event was Engineer Doctor Wana-Etyem, Chairperson Makerere University Council who thanked all the past leadership for setting a strong and firm foundation for MakSPH. Specifically, he thanked Associate Prof. Wanyenze for all the current good work at MakSPH. He also thanked the College of Health Sciences headed by Prof. Ibingira and all the units there in for the peaceful and successful co-existence with MakSPH. ‘I implore you all to continue with the cooperation, respect for one another and acknowledging each other’s differences while upholding each other’s’ strengths so that you can peacefully and successfully keep passing on the baton for the growth of Makerere University. Continue co-existing without any rivalry’ he stressed. Additionally, he continuously thanked the ladies and gentlemen for keeping high-up Makerere University’s name through their deeds singling out Prof. Nambooze for setting a firm foundation for MakSPH. While specifically addressing the past leadership, he requested them to once in every six months or so, call to MakSPH and give a lecture of a few minutes on any relevant topic sighting that in so doing we are all continuously contributing to building the future through knowledge generation and sharing while motivating the young generation. ‘I also urge you all especially the young generation to continue doing good, some day, you will be recognized like we are doing today. I however need to see more of MakSPH work also at the College of Engineering Design Art and Technology (CEDAT), we miss you at CEDAT. Once again, thank you all for continuously contributing to Makerere University’s growth through research. Majority or bulk of the publications are from the College of Health Sciences and School of Public Health, that is why Makerere University is one of the top Universities in Africa ’ he added.
The Chief Guest’s speech ushered in all the guests to join in cake cutting and sharing. One cake was specially baked and shared as a thank you cake and the other to wish everyone Happy Festive Season holidays/Christmas and a Blessed New Year 2018. This was followed by entertainment as the MakSPH family joined on the dance floor ‘paka chini’. It was indeed unique witnessing the Lawns Restaurant Terrace filled with dancing, happy and relaxed Professors, Doctors, Pharmacists, Epidemiologists, Statisticians, Environmental Scientists, Finance experts, Administrators, Health Policy Planners and Managers and Researchers among others. Given the excellence in organizing and executing all activities of the event, all the MakSPH staff and invited guests had two words to say-‘Thank You’! Until dawn, departure was at leisure!
It was a rich learning and engagement opportunity to put together and see to fruition such a high profile event. Thank you MakSPH Dean and team for giving the 2017 MakSPH Dinner Organizing Committee an opportunity to serve. We are looking forward to yet another such opportunity and we will surely put forth out best foot.
Written by Harriet Adong @ekahat1, RAN Communications Manager and Chairperson MakSPH Dinner Organizing Committee.