Dr Elizabeth Ekirapa Kiracho was officially welcomed into the Department of Health Policy, Planning and Management (HPPM) of Makerere University School of Public Health (MakSPH) as the new Chair, on Friday 21st Sept 2018.

The well-attended function was graced by the MakSPH Dean, Assoc. Prof Rhoda Wanyenze, the internal auditor, Mr Amos Dembe Ashaba, who represented the University administration, the outgoing Department Chair, Assoc. Prof Freddie Ssengooba, staff in the department, and representatives from other departments.

In his remarks, Prof Freddie Ssengooba (pictured above) thanked the University for the opportunity accorded him to serve as Department Chair. He also expressed his gratefulness to the School of Public Health for allowing him to be part of the senior management, and to members of the department for the tireless work they had done during his term in office. Prof Ssengooba revealed that chairing meetings was the toughest role he had to play in his four-year tenure. All his other roles were simplified by the very committed staff in the department. With the department manned by 7 people, he pointed out that HPPM had the fewest number of staff whom he referred to as the G7. The department is otherwise helped by Research Fellows to deal with the load. He referred to these 20 Research Fellows as the G20.

“The department has also been privileged to have several projects give Ugandans jobs”, Prof Ssengooba disclosed, adding that “the project is doing its part in trying to link people to jobs, and lessen the problem of youth unemployment which has become a hot potato”.

The venerable professor also gave an update of the health of the department in terms of finances and otherwise, adding that the department is known to be rich. To this, he urged the new Chair to interest herself in all matters HPPM especially in financial reports released every Saturday. He expressed contentment that all monies were properly accounted for and had gone through the correct procedural guidelines in releasing them.

In handing over the office, he gave the new Chair gifts of a sachet of salt, a packet of coffee and a sizeable box of chocolate, letting her know that the Department had an appetite for the latter two items especially during meetings, much to the applause of the audience. The salt was given to remind her to always be the salt of the department.

In her acceptance speech, Dr Elizabeth Ekirapa Kiracho expressed gratitude to the leadership of MakSPH and the University for the mentorship offered to other staff. Quoting the late Myles Munroe who said that “You have been a generational failure if you have no successor after you”, she assured Prof Ssengooba, the outgoing Chair that he had clearly succeeded by getting himself a successor in her.

Dr Ekirapa (pictured above) urged department members to keep the teamwork going, adding that while every person had weaknesses, it was the job of the team to ensure that they can support each other. She acknowledged the work done by Research Fellows, implying a commitment to have some of them retained. However, she challenged them to show why they should be retained. Dr Ekirapa also pledged to put effort into friendships including celebration of birthdays and growth of friendships. She ended by encouraging members to push themselves towards excellence not only as an act, but as a habit. Her gift to the outgoing Chair was a framed photo of a lion head. She said her choice of gift was based on the qualities she saw in him; fearlessness and standing up for the truth, and for what it should be.

The Dean of MakSPH,  Prof Rhoda Wanyenze appreciated Prof  Ssengooba for his work at HPPM. She lauded him for being very passionate about the HPPM noting that “Prof Freddie will fight for his department, and if you want to really upset him, just do or say something negative about HPPM, you may see fireworks”. She also commended HPPM for being a cohesive unit despite the apparent personalities of the people there. The Dean also commended the outgoing Chair for being a very honest person even when the honesty is brutal. She urged the incoming Chair to pick a leaf from him and re- iterated her promise to orient all the new Department Chairs about MakSPH in their new capacities. Prof Wanyenze (pictured above) congratulated the new Chair upon the appointment, revealing that the term of office had actually started in July. She asked the new Chair to be able “to cultivate the multiplier effect of those around” by galvanizing everybody around her. “The most powerful tool in the world is working well with others”, she said adding that “even when you are the most intelligent person in the world”, the most one can do is very little. Prof Wanyenze asked Dr Ekirapa to develop friendships at the school and everywhere, adding that “the note is set at the top”. She also revealed that HPPM was getting two more staff added to the Department very soon.

Pictured Below: Outgoing Chair, Prof Freddie Ssengooba (extreme right) hands over a file to the new Chair, Dr Elizabeth Ekirapa (next right). Looking on is the Dean (in floral top and red skirt), Mr Amos Dembe, the internal auditorr and University representative, Dr Jane Mutyoba, and Dr Esther Buregyeya, the Chair of Disease Control and Environmental Health

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