Published: 15-02-2023 13:45 | Updated: 03-05-2023 09:19

Harriet Nakigozi in Uganda about KI training: "My knowledge can help others to develop”

When Harriet Nakigozi heard about the course “Managing innovation for sustainable health”, she was in the middle of her postgraduate studies. Despite that, she applied to join the course. It soon turned out to be the right decision as the two courses supported each other.

Harriet Nakigozi, a Public Health Laboratory Specialist from Uganda. Photo: Private

The course “Managing innovation for sustainable health” is designed for managers in the health sector in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and Somalia.

“When I read about the course, I realised that it aligned with my career. Among other things, it focused on Agenda 2030, sustainable health, innovation, and increased co-operation - these are all areas that interest me,” says Nakigozi. 

Co-ordinating 1,000 labs

Nakigozi now works as a Public Health Laboratory Specialist at the National Health Laboratory and Diagnostic Services at the Ministry of Health in the Ugandan capital, Kampala. One of her responsibilities is to develop support programmes to co-ordinate the work of the country’s approximately 1,000 local labs and sampling units.

“We also offer supplementary tests and follow-ups and co-ordinate training for local employees at laboratories at national, regional, and local tiers throughout the country.”

Most days, Nakigozi works in the office with her colleagues; but she also makes study visits to local laboratories.

“I love working in the field! It gives me the opportunity to get to know new people as they share their stories and experiences. Above all, you get to see day-to-day activities first-hand, which makes it easier to know if they have sufficient resources to carry out their work,” says Nakigozi.

Harriet Nakigozi at her work at the National Health Laboratory and Diagnostic Services at the Ministry of Health in the Ugandan capital, Kampala Photo: Privat

The training unlocked potential

Nakigozi obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Bio medical laboratory technology at Makerere University and then took a Master’s degree in Biomedical Laboratory sciences and management with a focus on leadership. When she heard about the course “Managing innovation for sustainable health” course, she had just started her postgraduate studies in Public Health Policy and Global Health.

“I saw straight away that I could benefit from the course in my future role as a leader. So even though I was in the middle of my graduate studies, I applied and was accepted based on my previous qualifications.” 

Looking back, this turned out to be a very good decision, Nakigozi says.

“The course gave me more of an insight and understanding of what I needed to learn more about. It unlocked a potential that helped me complete my PhD work faster.” 

Strengthened ability for innovative problem solving

The course increased her knowledge in several areas. It places particular emphasis on the concept of sustainable health and how work with sustainable health can be developed in line with Agenda 2030. 

“I had come into contact with Agenda 2030 before, of course, but it was still relatively new to me. The course deepened my knowledge of the UN's global goals, which has given me a boost in my career.” 

The course also provides tools and methods for disseminating and implementing proven methods to promote health and evidence-based practice. Nakigozi has benefited from this at the start of a national leadership programme for laboratory employees in Uganda.

“My task has been to contribute to the programme’s curriculum that will start in 2023 under the auspices of the Uganda National Public Health Institute - Laboratory Leadership Program for Leaders in the laboratory sector.

At the same time, the course provided new knowledge about innovation and innovation management.”

“It strengthened my ability for innovative problem solving and is something that I benefit from on a daily basis. It is important to take a moment before each task and think about what is the best way to a solution.” 

Harriet Nakigozi at a conference. Photo: Private

Shares the knowledge as a mentor for young women

Nakigozi describes herself as very ambitious, while at the same time she is concerned that her knowledge should be used by more people. Since her training, she has been involved in various ventures to help girls through school and to support young women in their professional development.

“Although I lost my parents early, I have developed an ability to look to the future positively. And I want to share that, especially with young women, so that they realise that it is possible to influence their future.”

Nakigozi has also been active in sharing knowledge of traditional or existing healing methods and natural remedies especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

She is an editor at local Ugandan newspapers such as New Vision, and monitors papers to build awareness about diseases such as diabetes, viral hepatitis, hypertension, HIV, mental health and cervical cancer among others.

In Uganda, the use of herbal medicines is common to alleviate and cure diseases. 

“But more evidence-based knowledge is needed to focus on the methods that actually work in a healing way,” she says.

One way to increase knowledge is through more collaborations with neighbouring countries. Among other things, Nakigozi is active in knowledge sharing networks with Makerere University and the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania.

At the same time, more international collaborations are needed to find ways to deal with communicable and non-communicable diseases.

“We also need more training to strengthen preventive measures and day-to-day healthcare. We’re facing considerable challenges and some parts of our population are affected by famine. Only through increased global collaboration and partnership can we create a better future,” says Nakigozi.

Harriet Nakigozi

Family: Married, one daughter, lives with other members of their extended family. 

Lives: Kampala, Uganda.

Hobbies: Nakigozi works as a personal mentor, especially for young women and youths. She also likes to dance , sing and write her own gospel songs.

About Managing innovation for sustainable health (MISH)

Managing Innovation for Sustainable Health is funded by the Swedish Institute through the SI Public Sector Innovation Programme, which targets universities and  colleges. The training programme is carried out in cooperation with key public sector actors in low- and middle- income countries with the aim of promoting innovation and sustainability in partnering countries. 

The training is based on the 2030 Agenda and the aim of the programme is for participants to develop their capacity to successfully collaborate across sectors and use an innovative approach to strengthening both preventive and curative health care in the DRC, Uganda and Somalia. The programme is developed and organised by Karolinska Institutet, Makerere University, Benadir University, University of Kinshasa School of Public Health and the innovation company Tinkr within the Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Health.