University of Wisconsin–Madison

Young African Leaders Speak Out:

See below for videos of YALI speakers:

Nine of the 25 Mandela Washington Fellows at the UW-Madison this summer are deeply involved in ensuring health for their countries and communities. Physicians, nurses, community outreach workers and an occupational therapist, they will share their passion to provide health for all, and the innovative ways they are reaching their goals, in a series of three YALI Global Health Seminars: July 10, 17 and 24 from 5 to 6 p.m. in Room 1309 at the Health Sciences Learning Center, 750 Highland Ave. (The HSLC is easily accessible via the #80 bus.)

Three scholars will speak during each seminar, giving 15 minute presentations about their work, with time for questions following. The evenings will explore a series of topics:

July 10Forging new solutions for health

  • “Paving the Road to Health Equity” with Rose Mary Nakame, an NGO-founder from Uganda. Nakame will discuss successful bottom-up approaches utilized by her organization in addressing  the challenges to achieving health equity among the impoverished settings in Uganda. Nakame battled a benign brain tumor at an early age, yet her parents were from a low socio-economic background, which meant poor access to better diagnostic health care. In addition, she felt less important to her community, which tends to value boys more than girls. Her story is like many females who make up half of Uganda’s population and 67 percent of Ugandans living in poverty. Her experience inspired her to work towards increasing access to quality health care, undertaking health related courses and later on, founding REMI East Africa in November 2015. As an executive director of REMI East Africa, she has influenced public health policy and financing through strategic memberships. For example, she lobbied with the Maternal-Child Health Coalition for increment in 2017/2018 National health financing from 1.5 to 1.8 billion Ugandan shillings through the Parliamentary Health Subcommittee.
  •  “The Journey to Universal Health Coverage in Nigeria” with Francis Ayomoh, M.D., Nigeria. Ayomoh has worked for more than five years in clinical practice, as a resident doctor in Internal Medicine with an interest in infectious diseases. He has worked closely with patients with diseases such as HIV/AIDS, Lassa fever, cholera and meningitis. However, his experiences in curative medicine motivated him to switch to preventive medicine, as he realized that it was cheaper and better to prevent diseases than to cure them. Having worked as a clinician for a few years, he now understands the inadequacies within the Nigerian hospital environment and resolves to make things better. He currently works in the Federal Ministry of Health where he formulates and implements policies to improve primary healthcare in Nigeria, making hospitals more efficient and reducing the prevalence of diseases by creating nationwide awareness about hygiene and healthy lifestyle choices.
  • “Surgery and security in Africa” with Odry Fifonsi Agbessi, M.D., Benin. Agbessi is the first plastic surgeon in her country, where she is in charge of burned patients, patients with physical disabilities, and others with deformities or injuries at a national teaching hospital. She chose this specialty after seeing a media report of a young girl with burns on both her face and neck who needed to go to Europe for care because there were no specialists in Benin. Since that moment, Odry has vowed to work hard in order to offer such specialization in her country, as she is convinced that it is critical to Benin’s development.

 July 17: Promoting well-being

  • “Malaria” with Iliassa Ayouba, a nurse in Comoros. Ayouba has worked as a nurse in the Comorian government health system, specifically in rural areas, for five years. He is the National Malaria Control Program supervisor in his community and is the president and founder of the first health care association in Comoros. He is the national vice president of the Insular Peace Network office. He has created an association to build confidence in the Comorian healthcare system and encourage those who need medical assistance to go to the hospital. As a nurse, he is able to connect well with the sick and help them access medical care.
  • “The Community-based Health Planning and Services (CHPS) Concept for Attaining Health for All in Ghana” with Maxwell Tii Kumbeni, a nurse in Ghana. Kumbeni has worked as a trained and licensed registered general nurse and been employed by the Ghana Health Service since 2009.  He started his career in Navrongo Hospital where he was responsible for patient care. After one year, he was reposted to Sakote Health Center in Nabdam District where he was responsible for diagnosing and treating minor ailments, propagating health promotion activities and assisting in running administrative activities. Three years later, he was appointed the sub-district leader, responsible for monitoring and supervision, health promotion and disease prevention, liaison between the sub-district and the district health management team, and implementation of health policies. To reduce health disparities in developing countries, effective policy implementation is key in leadership and management which is why he chose to provide good health to rural communities.
  • “Reproductive Health in Ethiopia” with Kalkidan Lakew Belayneh, M.D., Ethiopia. Belayneh is a medical doctor and an advocator with more than 6 years of experience in advocacy of public health issues, specifically focusing on reproductive health. Currently, she is working as a Medical Director of a government hospital located in a rural setup where she overseas all the clinical activities and she also has helped establish various departments within the hospital. She has an active volunteering experience in different organizations, including her service as the Director of Public Health in Ethiopian Medical Students’ Association. Belayneh earned her medical degree from Addis Ababa University School of Medicine. She is a leader with a commitment to empower women across her country by addressing issues regarding their sexual and reproductive health and rights. She hopes to see all women exercise their rights to the fullest. She chose this work because of her all-time dream of helping the less fortunate and finding solutions for their problems. Being a physician with leadership positions gives her the opportunity to live that dream and also to motivate and manage others to do the same.

July 24: Improving access to care

  •  “Perspectives of Social Work in Integrated Health Care” with Patrick Male Kabwe, a community outreach coordinator in Zambia. Kabwe holds a Bachelor’s degree in Adult Education. He has two years’ experience in community outreach, which included coordinating activities for the early infant male circumcision program. In a second position as the community outreach coordinator for the Centre for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia, he was also involved in the creating awareness about the need to have early-infant males circumcised, reducing their risk of contracting HIV. In his current position, as a medical social worker at Kasama General Hospital, his role involves coordinating social welfare services in order to facilitate recovery and rehabilitation.
  • “The health of vulnerable marginalized and oppressed  individuals and collectives within Tanzanian context” with Bertha Kanuth Mbuya, an occupational therapist in Tanzania. Mbuya is an occupational therapist who works in various settings, including schools, refugee camps, and special needs schools to empower and advocate for human rights for the vulnerable and most marginalized individuals to engage fully in society for their health and well-being. She chose this profession because it inspired her to help individuals live meaningful lives. Her own experience with family members with disabilities drove her to study a profession that challenges power relationships, structure inequalities and entrenched mindsets that facilitate occupational injustices for the most marginalized individuals in her society and Africa in general. Her goal is to enhance equality, promote human rights, and facilitate equal participation.
  • “Strategies and challenges to reduce maternal and perinatal mortality in Ethiopia” with Bemnet Zegeve Ashenafi, M.D., Ethiopia. Eleven years ago, Bemnet’s grandmother died, although she could have been saved if she had reached a hospital sooner. Since then, Bemnet has had a burning desire to save lives. After six years of hard work, she was qualified to be a doctor. She has worked in different hospitals in Addis Ababa as well as in rural areas as an intern. It was during her internship in Nedjo Hospital that she started to realize her potential and how she was needed in the rural community. Currently, she works as a head of in-patient department and actively participates in raising awareness about maternal and child health.

This is the third year row, UW-Madison has hosted 25 Mandela Washington Fellows who are part of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) sponsored by the U.S. Department of State. The initiative was launched in 2010 to support young Africans as they spur growth and prosperity, strengthen democratic governance, and enhance peace and security across Africa.

The fellows visiting Madison aspire to work in all levels of government, regional or international organizations, or other publicly minded groups and think tanks. During their month-long stay, they will learn from Wisconsin’s scholars and professionals and visit government entities, non-profit organizations and businesses across the state.

The fellows, who are 25- to 35-years-old, have established records of accomplishment in promoting innovation and positive change in their organizations, institutions, community and countries.

The Global Health Institute works with the African Studies Program and other campus units to plan the curriculum for the fellows.

YALI Tuesdays