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UGANDA: ACHOLI MEDICAL DOCTOR ICON PROF. DR. ALPHONSE OKWERA THE MAN BEHIND TUBERCOLOSIS OLD MULAGO NATIONAL HOSPITAL MOURNED

“I enjoyed working with him on many TB studies to fill important gaps in our knowledge about TB treatment

Prof. Dr. Alphonse Okwera the former Director of Tuberculosis TB Old Mulago National Referral Hospital, fare thee well

Tribute to Prof. Dr. Alphonse Okwera by Prof John Johnson, Case Western Reserve School of Medicine, Cleveland, USA.

Prof. William Woradria, Mulago Hospital/ Makerere College of Health Sciences

Tribute to Prof. Dr. Alphonse Okwera by Prof. Mases Jaloba, Dean, School of Biomedical Sciences, Makerere College of Health Sciences, Tribute to Prof. Dr. Alphonse Okwera by Prof. Harriet Mayanja-kizza, Makerere College of Health Science.

Tribute to Prof. Dr. Alphonse Okwera by Prof. Haney Boom, Case Western Reserve School of Medicine, Cleveland, Ohio USA.

Prof. Dr. Alphonse Okwera was generous with his knowledge and spent many hours teaching his students about the best practices in Tuberculosis care.

GULU CITY-MONDAY 5, December 2022. Prof. Dr. Alphonse Okwera the man behind Tuberculosis (TB)cure in Old Mulago National Referral Hospital a born from Odek Sub County LRA warlord Joseph Kony remain a giant Ugandans great collaborator on the many ground-breaking research projects between Makerere University and Case Western Reserve School of Medicine.

The former Director of Tuberculosis Prof. Dr. Okwera mourned by Odek Community, Omoro district during the last memorial prayer.

He passed on to kidding disease, 4th April 2020 after so many attempts to save his life were dodged during COVID-19 pandemic.

Prof. Dr. Okwera has been described by many of his peer Medical experts that, “It was a pleasure to work with Alphonse for many decades and we fondly remember him for his dedication and collegiality. We thank the family for sharing his life’s soul.

Prof. Dr. Okwera was an expert in chest disease and skilled in chest radiology. He had great integrity in his research and professional relationships took excellent care of his patients.

“I enjoyed working with him on many TB studies to fill important gaps in our knowledge about TB treatment, I will miss his calm and pleasant demeanor and approach to our work” Prof. John Jonson, Managing Director CWRU.

Prof. John Johnson who penned down his eulogy gave an inside quote of Prof. Dr. Okwera as follows: Tuberculosis (TB) remains the leading cause of death from an infectious agent Worldwide, Alphonse dedicated his professional life to understanding this disease and improving care for patients with TB. FROM THE TIME OF HIS GRADUATION IN 1981 WITH A Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery degree of Makerere University, he worked with the National TB and Control Centre in Mulago. He grew through the ranks and was appointed Head of this Unit in 1990. He served diligently in this capacity until his retirement in 2017.

During his career, he attended courses from University Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Case Western Reserve University, Canada; National Jewish Research Centre, Denver, Colorado, USA, McGill University, Montreal, Canada. National Jewish Research Centre, Denver Colorado, USA, University of Birmingham, USA and the University of Cape Town, South Africa.

These equipped him with the knowledge and skills to conduct research and provide the best cure to patients with TB for a PHD in Microbiology at Makerere University which he successfully defended in 2008. He was subsequently appointed Professor, department of Medical Microbiology School of Biomedical Sciences.

He was principal investigator and co-investigator of drug-combinations for the treatment and prevention of drug-susceptible and drug-resistant TB in a research project conducted by Uganda-CASE Western Reserve University Lung Institute, among others.

These studies were sponsored by WHO, the US Centers for Disease Control, the TB Alliance and other leading global TB research networks

He was a member of the Uganda Medical Association; and International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Diseases (IUATLD): The International AIDS society; the Working Group on TB/HIV Global Strategy of the WHO; and the Executive Board of Uganda Society for Health Scientists.

Prof. Dr. Alphonse Okwera, was generous with his knowledge and spent many hours teaching his students about the best parties in Tuberculosis care.

The preview publications.

Prof. Dr. Okwera peer reviewed over 110 publications associated with treatment of Tuberculosis and HIV AIDS with Makerere University-Case Western Reserve University Collaboration as NIH/TBRU among others.

Attributes

Prof. Dr. Alphonse Okwera had a warm heart, God fearing person, humane and Intelligent. He would not use words like “I don’t, or I can’t help you” but would try his best to help financially and in serving as medical personnel.

He also had a passion for education and contributed immensely in educating his brothers and their children. At the time of his demise, he was the Chairperson of Luo Community in Naguru Catholic Church and also the Vice Chairperson of Gulu Arch Diocese Laity Association living in Kampala.

Professor grew up as a humble boy and up to secondary school level, he could still help his mother prepare meals by grinding millet and Sesame, and fetching water.

Affiliations (Membership) 1990 to the time of his demise; Member of Uganda Medical Association, Member of the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Diseases (IUATLD), Member of International AIDS society.

2000-2005: Member of Working Group on TB/HIV Global Strategy of the WHO.

2003-2005; Member, Executive Board of Uganda Society for Health Scientist

2013 to the time of his demise: Chairman National MDR-TB Panel, National TB/Leprosy Program, Ministry of Health. Board Member, Technical Committee, Malaria Consortium, Makerere University.

2015 to the time of his demise Board Member, Technical Committee, Lung Health Initiative of the college of health Sciences, Makerere University. Board Member, Gulu Regional Referral and University Teaching Hospital

Prof. Dr. Alphonse Okwera was born on 15th December 1955 at Kal Lamin Rwot village, the then Awere Sub County Gulu District, to Masimino Owor the Puranga care taker of Olal-Teng deity of Kal clan, his mother Awor Karamella Owor of Palaro clan.

Education

Prof. Alphonse Okwera joined primary one in 1962 in Odek Primary school where he would walk 6 kilometers every day to and from school. He sat for and passed in first class from Odek Primary school in 1968. He later joined Lango College for 0-Level in 1969 where he emerged one of the best performers in the all of East Africa and continued in the same school for A-Level. During 0Level and A-Level vacations he helps his former school as un-lincnse teacher.

After successfully completing A-Level from Lango College, he joined Makerere University in 1975 where he studied Internal Medicine Surgery, Peaediatrics, Obstetrics, Gynaecology and Public Health.

In 1986; he graduated from University of Liverpool (In the United Kingdom) with a Master of Science in International Community Health. In 2018 he was awarded PHD, Medical Microbiology, from College of Sciences, Makerere University

Short courses:

June to August 1989, trained on infectious Disease from Case Western Reserve School of Medicine, Cleveland, Ohio USA. October 1995 trained in research methods in Respiratory Diseases Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics McGill University Montreal-Canada (Training held at Medical Research Institute in Nairobi-Kenya.)

February 2006: trained in the principals of Qualitative Research in Clinical Medicine, University of Birmingham, USA.

August 2008: trained in the Peaediatrics Chest Radiography course on chest from University of Cape town, South Africa, November, 2012: World Health Organization international courses on chest Radiology.

Work Experiences:

In 1985/86 he was the personal doctor of the short life military junta of Gen. Tito Okello Lutua, in 1993 he was personal doctor to Uganda Prime Minister Cosmas Adyebo, he was behind the Gulu University struggle

 

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