On the Friday afternoon of September 14th, 2018, Assoc. Prof Nazarius Mbona Tumwesigye stepped down as Chair of the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics which is in Makerere University School of Public Health (MakSPH), paving way for Assoc. Prof Noah Kiwanuka to succeed him. The well-attended ceremony which took in MakSPH Boardroom had a representative from the University administration, the Dean Of MakSPH, Prof Rhoda Wanyenze , and representatives of the Chairs of the other departments in MakSPH.

The anticipation before the event was validated by the occasion itself, as the audience had quite an overabundance of tribute to the outgoing chair, Prof Mbona, as speaker after speaker continued to accord acclaim to him for his contribution to the department.

In his remarks, Prof Nazarius Mbona (pictured above) thanked members of the department for the tireless work they had done in propelling the department as far as it had come, singling out the Dean, Prof Fredrick Makumbi, and Prof Fred Wabwire – Mangen, as colleagues who had stood out from the rest, as very helpful in the work he has been doing as a Department Chair. “I wish everybody goes through holding an office like this, so that the CV shows progress, but also to understand how to work. You cannot fail to pick a call from the Department Chair if you have been one before”, he remarked. He also revealed that it was during his tenure that MakSPH had started offering the Master of Health Informatics program; adding that now a new course had been approved for this ongoing semester – the Master of Science in Biostatistics.

He assured the Prof Kiwanuka, incoming Chair of undivided assistance whenever and wherever possible, to sustain the performance of the department. He also encouraged him to embrace the use of social media especially WhatsApp as a communication tool. Prof Tumwesigye also brought to attention some issues which needed urgent attention in the department, most pressing among them being the quality of teaching and supervision. To that, he added the responsibility of having to oversee everything in the department, including having knowledge on them all. “Space is also another big, big challenge in the School of Public Health”, revealed Prof Mbona.

In his deliberation, Prof Kiwanuka appreciated the work done by his predecessor, Prof Mbona, especially with the remedial actions taken in overturning the image of the department in light of the failure rate of students. He also thanked the Dean for her efforts in increasing the teaching, comprehension and completion rates of the students. He pledged to make sure that above all else, the Epidemiology and Biostatistics Department fulfills its primary role.

 

Assoc Prof Noah Kiwanuka (standing, in blue shirt and tie) makes his remarks at the handover

 

Prof Kiwanuka reminded the audience about the role of the department in most, if not all, of the academic programs at the school. He also urged colleagues to look at graduate students differently, noting that the student of yesterday is the colleague of today and the boss of tomorrow. He pledged himself to only one term four years in office as Chair, vowing that every other idea to act otherwise would never see the light of day.

The Dean of MakSPH added her voice to the tons of gratitude heaped on Prof Mbona for working really well with the School, revealing that she is his former student. She revealed that the outgoing Chair has been very flexible whenever called upon. She also commended him for communicating well, taking advice excellently, and pursuing issues with a passion, urging the incoming chair Prof Kiwanuka, to act likewise, and even much more. Prof Wanyenze further urged him to read and keep abreast of the policies of the university. She particularly referred to the human resource manual and promised that MakSPH would give the new Chair an orientation separate from what the university would do in due time.

The Dean revealed that she views the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics as a goldmine for MakSPH which should be exploited referencing the challenge of big data, and the impact that the department can have on providing solutions to that challenge. Prof Wanyenze (pictured above) also revealed that the issue of space was one for which sleep was having none of her. “Many people are helping, and university management has also been supportive. We want to do a ground-breaking maybe later this year, or probably early next year”, she disclosed, adding that efforts were underway to start the first phase of the building. She also requested members to engage in these efforts, promising to give credit to whoever will make a contribution.

Also in attendance was Prof Fred Wabwire – Mangen who is a former Dean of MakSPH, Prof David Guwatudde who is a former Chair of the Department, staff members of the Epidemiology and Biostatistics Department, representatives of chairs of other departments, Mr Abraham Matovu who represented the Makerere University College of Health Sciences’ Human Resource Department, and the internal auditor MakSPH, Mr Dembe Amos Ashaba. Dr Simon Kasasa was the Master of Ceremonies.

 

Members present pose for a photograph after the function

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