Gifted brains, hands in the Covid-19 fight

Friday May 29 2020

Mulago medical staff  led by Mulago Ex

Mulago medical staff led by Mulago Executive Director Byarugaba Baterana (centre) celebrate after discharging the last Covid-19 patients at Mulago Hospital . FILE PHOTO 


Dr Misaki Wayengera
Dr Misaki Wayengera heads the Ministerial Scientific Advisory Committee on Covid-19 at Ministry of Health that is advising government on safeguarding the country from worst case pandemic scenario. He is in charge of coordinating the work of different experts on the committee.

Dr Misaki is also developing rapid diagnostic test kits for coronavirus, which are expected to be ready in a month’s time.

He has graduate training across Immunology, filoviruses, vaccinology, clinical microbiology and genetics. Dr Wayengera completed his PhD in 2018. He is member of the African Society for Human Genetics and inaugural chair of the H3Africa Consortium’s Education and Coordinated Working Group (ECTWG, 2013-2016).

Dr Misaki’s research interests focus on Pathogen OMICS aimed at identifying new molecular targets for developing new diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines.

Dr Misaki also developed testing kits for Ebola RDT, HIV-1 Gene Therapeutic, and next Gen TB Diagnostics. He is a bio-entrepreneur, and founder of Restrizymes Biotherapeutics (U) Ltd. In 2019, he won 1st Prize for the World Health Organisation (WHO) innovation Challenge (Product Development).

Prof Rhoda Wanyenze
Prof Rhoda Wanyenze is an epidemiologist who is in charge of Covid-19 case modeling on the National Covid-19 Taskforce.
She is a physician, public health consultant, academic and medical administrator, who serves as the Dean of Makerere University School of Public Health.


Born in 1968, Prof Wanyenze attended Nabisunsa Girls S.S. and earned her medical degree from Makerere University in 1993.

She studied Master in Public Health, also at Makerere in 2002, and a PhD from the University of Antwerp, Belgium, in 2010. She received additional training in HIV/Aids programme leadership and management, gender and health, project planning and management, and designing clinical research.

Dr Wanyenze has 25 years’ experience in health service delivery, including clinical, research, teaching, programme management, and policy development. Over the past seven years, she has served on boards of six organisations in Uganda.
Prof Wanyenze sits on various boards, including that of Baylor-Uganda, and Uganda Aids Commission.

She is also a member of the Ministry of Health HIV Counselling and Testing Committee.

Prof Wilson Muhwezi
Prof Wilson Muhwezi is an associate professor of Behavioural Sciences and Mental Health at Makerere University. He is heading the ad hoc committee on psychological interventions.

Prof Muhwezi is in charge of ensuring that putting people in quarantine, separation from family and re-integrating recovered patients is done with minimal effect on their psychological wellbeing.
He also advises on how to fight the Covid-19 related anxiety and fears.

Born in 1967, he went to Bugamba Integrated Primary School in Mbarara District. He pursued his O-Level studies at Bugamba and A-Level at Nganwa High School.

In 1989, Muhwezi joined Makerere University to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Works and Social Administration. Prof Muhwezi did his Masters in Health Promotion from Bergen University in Norway between 1989 and 1998.
He did his PhD in Medical Sciences/Social Medicine in both Karolinska Institute, Sweden, and Makerere University. He is a social scientist.

Prof Denis Byarugaba
Prof Denis Byarugaba is a microbiologist who heads the National Flu Surveillance Group. He is carrying out more research to understand the type of Covid-19 in the country. Dr Byarugaba has been studying different forms of coronavirus for more than 20 years. He unravels the new findings about the virus and localises Covid-19-related knowledge.

Dr Henry Kajumbula
Dr Henry Kajumbura chairs the Infection and Biology committee. He is a microbiologist at Makerere University.
He advises on safety measures such as wearing facemasks, hand-sanitising and social distancing.

He has been a clinical pathologist specialising in Medical Microbiology since 1998.

In recognition of his leadership role in the control of antimicrobial resistance in Uganda, Dr Kajumbula was nominated to chair the country’s Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance Committee, a position he still holds.

As a result, he has coordinated development of the Country’s Nacrobial resistance as well as a national surveillance plan for antimicrobial resistance.

Prof Pontiano Kaleebu
Prof Pontiano Kaleebu is a physician, clinical immunologist, HIV/Aids researcher, academic and medical administrator. He is the director of the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI), which is in charge of testing for coronavirus. He advises government on testing for coronavirus and other disease-specific information.

Appointed in July 2010 as the new head of the UVRI, Prof Kaleebu holds a medical degree from Makerere University and a PhD from Imperial College, London.

Born in 1960, Kaleebu attended Jinja Kaloli Primary School in Wakiso District from where he completed and was admitted to St Mary’s College Kisubi for O-Level. He completed his A-Level from Kampala High School and joined Makerere University to pursue Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery in the mid-1980s.

In 1988, Kaleebu was awarded a scholarship by Royal Postgraduate Medical School, UK, to study immunology. Upon graduation, he pursued post-graduate studies at Imperial College -London where he completed his PhD programme in mid 1990s.

In 1987, Kaleebu was recruited as a medical research officer at UVRI while still pursuing his PhD studies. His service through the years saw him appointed as head of the Immunology Department at UVRI in 1995.
While at UVRI, Prof Kaleebu joined the joint Medical Research Council, MRC/UVRI research programme in 1996. In July 2010, he was appointed as director of the UVRI.

As UVRI director, he sits on the senior management of the Ministry of Health.
He leads a number of other national and regional networks of scientists and researchers.

Experts in government

Dr Jane Ruth Aceng
Born in 1968, Dr Aceng is the Minister of Health, a position she has held since 2016. Her ministry has been at the centre of containing the coronavirus pandemic.

Dr Aceng studied from Shimoni Demonstration School in Kampala for primary and proceeded to Nabisunsa Girls’ School for both O- and A-Level education.

In 1993, she pursued a Bachelor’s Degree of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery at Makerere University.
Her career started off at Lira hospital in 1994 as a health officer. She grew through the ranks until she became a consultant paediatrician/ acting director in 2010. She later served as Director General of Health Services for five years until she was appointed Minister of Health. She has served through Ebola outbreaks and nodding disease syndrome.

Dr Joyce Moriku Kaducu
Born in 1969 in Moyo District, Dr Joyce Moriku Kaducu, is a paediatrician, academic and politician. She was appointed Minister of State for Primary Healthcare in 2016, replacing Sarah Opendi. In 1984, she joined Laropi Primary School in Moyo District and proceeded to Metu S.S. in Moyo, for O- Level and Sacred Heart S.S. in Gulu District for A-Level education.

Dr Moriku joined Mbarara University Medical School in 2002, pursuing Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery. Dr Moriku has a PhD in Neuroscience from Gulu University in 2015.

She started working at Lacor Hospital in Gulu. She then worked as medical coordinator for The AIDS Support Organisation (Taso) in Gulu between 2003 and 2005. Dr Moriku later served as a medical director for Mildmay Clinic on Entebbe Road from 2008 to 2009.

Between 2010 and 2015, she was a lecturer in paediatrics at Gulu University and concurrently serves as a consultant pediatrician at Gulu Regional Referral Hospital.

Dr Diana Atwine
Born in 1973, Dr Diana Atwine is the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Health, a position she has held since November 2016. She attended Bweranyangi Girls’ S.S. for O-Level and Mt St Mary’s Namagunga Girls’ School for her A-Level.

Dr Atwine pursued her Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery at Mbarara University School of Medicine, specialising in internal medicine. She started working at St Francis Hospital Nsambya, then joined the Uganda Joint Clinical Research Centre.

Dr Atwine moved to State House where she served as the President’s Private Secretary in charge of medical affairs. In 2009, she was tasked to head the State House’s Medicine and Health Services Delivery Monitoring Unit.

Dr Henry Mwebesa is the Director General of Health Services at the Ministry of Health. He was appointed in February after serving as the Commissioner Health Services and Planning.

Col Dr Henry Kyobe Col Kyobe is the Covid-19 incident commander. He is an army doctor and senior consultant epidemiologist. He is deputised by Dr Atek Kagirita.

Dr Kyobe is responsible for emergency response, including quickly developing incident objectives, managing all incident operations, application of resources as well as responsibility for all persons involved.

Dr Jane Nakibuka
Dr Jane Nakibuka is an intensivist and internal medicine expert at Mulago National Referral Hospital. She is heading the ad hoc committee on Covid-19 case management.

Dr Nakibuuka is behind the type of treatment being given to Covid-19 patients like the hydroxychloroquine, Vitamin C and antibiotics.

Other scientists
Prof Noah Kiwanuka, is an Infectious Disease Epidemiologist at Makerere University College of Health Sciences. He is a member of the advisory committee. He harmonises strategies for case identification and infection prevention.

Dr Betty Kivumbi, is a mathematician, who is helping to develop Covid-19 models for Uganda. The models are used to predict how various measures being put or lifted could impact the extent of Covid-19 spread.

Prof Neoline Nakasujja, is a specialist in psychiatry and the Chair for the Department of Psychiatry where she serves as a senior lecturer at the Makerere University College of Health Sciences.

Prof Pauline Byakika
is a Ugandan specialist physician and epidemiologist. She serves as an Associate Professor of Medicine at Makerere University College of Health Sciences.

Dr William Worodria, is a physician trained in pulmonology and clinical research. He is a member of the MSAAC. He has a Master of Medicine (Internal Medicine) from Makerere University, Kampala and a Doctorate from University of Antwerp, Belgium.

Dr Ethel Nakakawa, is a medical Microbiologist, College of Health Sciences, Makerere University. She holds a Masters in Medical and Diagnostic Virology.

Dr Arnold Kiwereza, is an anesthesiologist at Mulago National Referral Hospital who is also member of MSAAC.

Dr James Elima, is the director of Gulu Regional Referral Hospital.

Dr Byarugaba Baterana, is the executive director of Mulago National Referral Hospital.

Dr Moses Muwanga, is the director of Entebbe Grade B hospital.

Dr Susan Nabadda Ndidde, is the head of Central Public Health Laboratory that is also testing for coronavirus.

Prof Freddie Ssengooba
Prof Freddie Ssengooba is a health policy expert heading the ad hoc committee on policy implication for Covid-19. He is in charge of assessing the public disposure and advises on the best way to put in place policies such as lockdown and when it should be lifted.

Prof Ssengooba is the director of the SPEED Project. SPEED refers to Support for Policy Engagements for Evidence-based Decisions for universal health coverage in Uganda.

Prof Ssengooba is also a lecturer in the Department of Health Policy, Planning and Management at the School of Public Health, College of Health Sciences, Makerere University.

He is a seasoned researcher in health systems and policy. In the last 12 years, Prof Ssengooba has led a programme of research on the organisational reforms like decentralisation of health services; autonomy and efficiency of hospitals; performance-based contracting and its impacts on health system in general and on the workforce in particular.

His current research engagements focus on the effectiveness of donor aid for HIV/Aids on the health system and researching the translation of evidence into policies and programmes.

He has provided technical services to World Health Organisation, World Bank, ministries of health, Uganda Aids Commission and multi-lateral and bilateral agencies.

Dr Monica Musenero
Dr Monica Musenero is an epidemiologist and a veterinarian. She is the presidential adviser on epidemics.

She was among Ugandan experts who led the fight against Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone in 2016 and DR Congo in 2018.
Dr Musenero is a public health professional who has distinguished herself as a trailblazer in implementing strategic responses to medical emergencies.

Her service spans Uganda’s Ministry of Health, local governments, higher education institutions, field epidemiology training programmes and engagements in various sub-Saharan countries.

She has engaged with multinational and multi-cultural leaders in both managerial and frontline contexts. Dr Musenero’s leadership versatility extends to initiatives that seek to build a critical mass of thought leaders to contribute to the country’s development agenda.

Dr Julius Lutwama
Dr Julius Lutwama is a virologist leading the testing for coronavirus at UVRI. He has long-term experience in infectious disease diagnosis.

Dr Lutwama trained as an Entomologist, obtaining his PhD in 1991 and received further specialised training in molecular virology and entomology at the Centers for Diseases Control, Fort Collins, Colorado, US.

He is the acting deputy director of the Institute and he is the head of the Department of Arbovirology, Emerging and Re-Emerging Infectious Diseases at UVRI.

He also heads the WHO Collaborating National Influenza Centre and the Highly Infectious Diseases Diagnostic Laboratory at UVRI.

Dr Lutwama is Honorary Associate Professor in the Department of Medical Microbiology at the Makerere University College of Health Sciences.