Our Mission

Balamu aims to minimize global health inequities by strengthening local care structures through NCD research, education and care. Our community-based approach puts high quality research and patient-centered education at the core of our work.

Our Vision

Building a sustainable model of care with the ultimate goal of improving the quality of healthcare in Uganda.

Our work is based on the following values

  • Strengthening NCD research
  • Education and care through patient empowerment
  • Incorporation of local expertise
  • Bi-directional education 
  • Building long-term relationships

While focusing on NCD research and health education, we believe that patient care will improve as human resources are strengthened and patients are empowered.

Long-term targets: Balamu Project 2016 – 2030

 

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Our Approach



As the global burden of disease shifts from communicable to non-communicable diseases (NCDs), chronic disease management has become a healthcare priority in low-middle-income countries. 

Countries like Uganda are facing a growing burden of NCDs and a lack of trained healthcare professionals. While substantial resources have been devoted towards treating communicable diseases, little has been directed towards managing NCDs such as hypertension, diabetes, chronic kidney disease and cancer.

Health systems in LMICs are often not sufficiently equipped to manage this growing burden. In addition, there remains a paucity of research into this epidemiologic transition. This makes already vulnerable countries more susceptible to an increasing chronic burden of disease.


Balamu means “being healthy” in the local Ugandan language Luganda.

The project builds on a strong international network of individuals from established research institutions and local organizations in Germany, Uganda and the US. Through this collaboration, we aim to strengthen NCD research, education and care in rural Uganda.

 

 

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Our Team

 

Principal Investigator


Felix Knauf, M.D.

Charité Universitaetsmedizin Berlin

is a Professor in Internal Medicine and Nephrology and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Medicine at Yale. He has worked in Uganda since 2007.

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Felix was born in Freiburg, Germany, and studied medicine at the University Freiburg, Paris and Berlin. He completed his doctoral thesis in the Department of Physiology and Internal Medicine at Yale University. Felix completed his medical training in Internal Medicine and Nephrology at Yale University and joined the faculty in 2011. Felix first started working in Uganda in 2007 as a Johnson & Johnson Global Health Scholar.

At this time Felix friendship with Robert Kalyesubula began and his love for Uganda. Trishul and Felix started to apply for funding and work on a joint mission to participate in patient care, education and research at ACCESS in 2012. Felix has returned to Germany in 2013 and is currently a faculty member of Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, corporate member of Freie Universität Berlin, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, and Berlin Institute of Health.

Principal Investigator

Dr. Robert Kayesubula


Robert Kalyesubula, M.D.

ACCESS Uganda

is a native of Nakaseke district and the president of ACCESS Uganda. He completed his doctoral degree in Uganda and a nephrology fellowship at Yale.

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During Uganda’s violent political instability, Robert lost his father when he was eight years old and dropped out of school. Fortunately, he rescued by an organization that supported his education. He finished his first degree in Medicine and Surgery in 1999 and immediately went to his home district in Nakaseke to work as a junior doctor in the Nakaseke District Hospital. Following his dedicated service he was employed as the medical director of AFXB, an international organization caring for children and people with HIV-AIDS (PLWAs).

He used the skills and knowledge acquired in this position to mobilize the members in his Nakaseke District to start a community based organization to support orphans and PLWAs. He founded ACCESS in 2002 (then known as the Nakaseke Community Development Initiative) in the Nakaseke District of Uganda.

Head of Research


Trishul Siddharthan, M.D.

University of Miami

is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care. He has an extensive experience in NCD research in LMICs.

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Trishul completed his medical training and chief residency at Yale-New Haven Hospital, during which time he conducted clinical work and research in Uganda as a Johnson & Johnson Global Health Scholar and a Fulbright Scholar. He subsequently studied the epidemiology of chronic respiratory diseases in urban and rural settings of Uganda as a Fogarty Global Health Fellow.

His research interests include the prevalence, management and economic burden of noncommunicable diseases in low- and middle-income countries. Active sponsored investigations include estimating the prevalence of obstructive lung disease among urban and rural Ugandan populations, implementing novel, low-cost spirometry for the diagnosis of lung disease, and patient-centered approaches to NCD management.

Head of Education


Tracy Rabin, M.D., SM

Yale University

is an Assistant Professor of Medicine and Director of the Office of Global Health at the Yale School of Medicine.

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She co-directs the Makerere University-Yale University Collaboration, a bilateral medical education capacity building partnership. She is a founding member and member of the Governing Board of the Uganda Initiative for Integrated Management of Non-Communicable Diseases (www.uincd.org). Her focus is on global health workforce education and the ethics of short-term work in resource-limited settings

Head of Operations


Rebecca Ingenhoff, M.Sc.

Charité Universitaetsmedizin Berlin

is a Program Manager in the field of global health and NCDs. She leads the Balamu operations while pursuing her PhD.

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She holds a Master of Science degree in Global Development from the University of Copenhagen and a bachelor’s in International Business & Economics. Before joining the Balamu Team, Rebecca worked for a healthcare consultancy in Berlin. Previously, she supported the advocacy efforts of the United Nations Population Fund in Hanoi to strengthen the access to preventive healthcare for women and girls.

Rebecca carried out education and global health research projects in Ghana, Tanzania and Vietnam while supporting a NGO working on sexual and reproductive health in Uganda. Rebecca nurtures a strong interest for inclusive approaches to global health and building models that provide sustainable access to care.

Senior Advisor


Asghar Rastegar, M.D.

Yale University

is a Professor of Medicine in Nephrology and the Founding Director of the Office of Global Health at the Yale School of Medicine.

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He is Co-Director of the Yale-Stanford Johnson and Johnson Global Health Scholar program. His long-term interest has focused on training of young physicians in in low- and mid-income countries of the world. He has worked extensively in Iran and Russia and for the last 11 years in sub-Saharan Africa including Rwanda and Uganda. As a nephrologist have has served as Co-Chair of the Education Committee of the International Society of Nephrology focusing on training of nephrologist in low resource regions.

Research Advisor


Benjamin Bodnar, M.D.

Johns Hopkins University

is an Assistant Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

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He is board-certified in both Internal Medicine as well as Pediatrics and in addition to his focus on providing world-class clinical care to his patients at Johns Hopkins Hospital, he has a special interest in global health and the application of Quality Improvement techniques to the often poorly functional systems at work in resource-limited and developing health care environments.

He has worked internationally at sites including Nepal, Mongolia, Ghana, Tanzania, Uganda, and Rwanda, and has worked with development groups including Partners in Health and The Millennium Villages Project. He is a faculty member of the Johns Hopkins Center for Global NCD Research and Training.

Scientific Project Manager


Richard Munana, M.D.

ACCESS Uganda

is responsible for the scientific Balamu management, such as planning and implementing all clinical and research interventions.

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Richard is a recipient of the prestigious UJMT Fogarty International Global Health Fellowship for the academic year 2020/2021. He has a strong interest in non-communicable diseases especially Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD). Richard’s study focuses on characterising CKD among rural populations in Uganda and examining the role of Saliva Urea Nitrogen (SUN) in Kidney Disease Diagnosis when combined with a CKD case-finding questionnaire and machine learning. We believe that this work has the potential to an alternative cheap way of diagnosing CKD in Uganda

Richard’s interest is to transition his medical training into a career of public health science aimed at ensuring equitable access to health care, building resilient communities through bridging the gap between scientific evidence, policy, and practice in low-income countries.

Administrative Project Manager


Ivan Weswa

ACCESS Uganda

is responsible for all administrative duties such as project planning, management, team coordination and partner communication.

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Ivan has a background in ICT and project management. He worked for the African Community Centre for Social Sustainability (ACCESS) as a Project Officer and Administrator. On the Balamu project, Ivan works as a Project Administrator. His main responsibility is that project administrative duties and processes are executed effectively and on time.His core competences include project planning and management, team leadership, data analysis and computer skills.

He further has great experience in building partnerships and collaborations, monitoring & evaluation and action learning. He also tracks expenses and works on budget forecasts. Ivan is committed to seeking new knowledge, learning and research.

Data Manager


Hillary Mutabazi, B.Sc.

ACCESS Uganda

is managing the implementation of the Electronic Medical Record (EMR) while supporting research data analysis.

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Hillary was born in Kabale, Uganda and studied Information technology at Uganda Christian University where he majored in database and information systems design and implementation. At the end of the course Hillary designed a School management information system (SMIS) and Online school admission systems that are now used by more than 150 institutions of learning in Uganda.

From time to time, Hillary has since acquired short course training in statistics, epidemiology and public health. He has strong expertise in health management information systems (HMIS) and data management. Hillary’s major interests lie in biostatistics data science and big data and is currently working as a Data Manager/Biostatistician with ACCESS Uganda for the Balamu project.

Biostatistician


Isaac Sekitoleko, M.Sc.

ACCESS Uganda

is a PhD student at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical medicine who supports research design and data analysis.

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Isaac’s doctoral research at the faculty of epidemiology and population health investigates the use of advanced statistical methods to assess survival and disease progression among patients with COPD in low-middle-income countries.

He is a fellow at the International Statistics and Epidemiology Group (ISEG) at London School of Hygiene and Tropical medicine (LSHTM) and holds a master’s degree in Medical Statistics from the LSHTM.

Research Scientist


Andreas Kaufmann, PhD

Charité Universitaetsmedizin Berlin

is the Head of Research at the Department of Gynaecology. He manages a sub-project focusing on cervical cancer screening.

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Andreas has studied Biology at University of Heidelberg and completed his PhD at the German Cancer Centre. He he started working as a post-doc on Human Papillomavirus (HPV) immunology and vaccine development. He holds a position as head of research at the Department of Gynaecology of the Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Germany, since 2005.

His main interests are the characterization of tumour-specific immune responses and development and evaluation of tumour and HPV vaccination strategies, cancer stem cell biology and targeted treatment and the epidemiology of HPV and cervical cancer in Germany and in LMIC such as Uganda. He further has a strong interest in the development and implementation of cervical cancer screening methods, making innovative methods and therapies available to patients.

Sr. Clinical Officer


James SSewanyana

ACCESS Uganda

James is a clinical officer by training, co-founder and deputy executive Director of ACCESS Uganda.

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James is known in Nakaseke as
Musawo (doctor). He lives and works with ACCESS in Nakaseke. James serves as the primary clinician at Life Care Center and oversees ACCESS’ programs in Nakaseke.

It is hard to find someone in Nakaseke who does not know his name. Musawo James represents the impact that ACCESS has in the community. He is constantly on the move, connecting people, procuring materials and delivering services in order to fulfill ACCESS mission to serve Nakaseke with better healthcare and a brighter future for its children.



Jr. Clinical Officer


James Karahuka

ACCESS Uganda

is our second clinical officer, providing care in our NCDs clinics and confirming measurements in the field for our studies. 

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In his work, he focuses on confirming hypertension and diabetes mellitus. James has a strong interest in early diagnosis and reducing complications of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as stroke and kidney failure. Furthermore, he focuses on raising awareness and reducing morbidity and mortality rates for NCDs in sub-Saharan Africa by providing education and care to vulnerable community members at risk of NCDs.

So, James aims to ensure that our participants and the community acquire prior knowledge about NCDs, such as diet control, exercise, and stress management in order to improve quality of life in rural communities.



Fellow


Jana Kimmel

Charité Universitaetsmedizin Berlin

is in her last year of medical school and a doctoral candidate at Charité. She supports the sub-project focusing on cervical cancer screening.

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After finishing high school she lived in Kampala and volunteered at local schools. When she returned to Berlin, Jana started her education at Charité, and recently completed a semester abroad in Sweden. During this time she increasingly became aware of the differences in basic healthcare access and developed an interest in planetary health. She previously gained experience in the field of neuroimaging research. 

Jana is eager to work in gynecology and is especially interested in a global approach to basic health care, specifically for women. For her doctoral thesis, she accompanies the implementation of the cervical screening program, focusing on the acceptance and obstacles of the screened women. 

Student Assistant


Julia Gaal

Charité Universitaetsmedizin Berlin

is in her third year of medical school. She supports the sub-project focusing on assessing barriers to NCD medication availability and accessibility.

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After graduating from high school, she lived in Luweero, Uganda for two months and volunteered in an HIV/AIDS clinic. During this time she intensively dealed with practicing medicine from a lower level of resources. She became aware of the serious differences in other health care systems. Since then she has been supporting a NGO working on improving medical care in East Africa.

Julia is particularly interested in nephrology and internal medicine as well as global health. As a future physician, she would like to advocate for access to medical care for everyone. Her research project focuses on new insights into how barriers towards health services access can be reduced.  

Laboratory technician


Samuel Zziwa

ACCESS Uganda

is a laboratory technician working with Balamu Project. His major role o is to conduct and support laboratory scientific investigations and experiments.

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While in school, he worked with laboratory Technicians from Nakaseke General Referral Hospital and discovered a medically strange disease known as Congo heamologic fever were patient’s CBC results had zero platelets count.

Samuel is passionate about improving the lives of people living in rural areas particularly in Nakaseke by improving their health through making right medical laboratory diagnosis in a limited resourceful environment and also inspiring the youth in this area to join the medical field. He personally found great benefits in improving people`s lives which includes but not limited to, working with big projects like Balamu and other medical platforms in Uganda.

Community Mobilizer


Pius Kiwanuka

ACCESS Uganda

is dedicated to mobilizing community members to engage in our project activities by following up participants and monitoring CHWS’ activities.

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Pius went to different colleges for higher education and completed a Diploma in Theology at Christian Care College with a distinctive goal of reaching out to different people. Socially, Pius has worked with different schools as a teacher in primary and secondary education.

Pius personal objective in the Balamu Project is to support or enhance the project’s objectives and goals with majorly encouraging NCD patients live a positive life. NCD research and education has not only illuminated the patients (victims) but also him as an individual due to on the trainings and practical exercises taken.

Research Nurse


Brenda Nalwanga  

ACCESS Uganda

her responsibilities include the provision of health talks about non-communcable diseases in the community and the screening of NCDs.

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Hereby, she is involved in the confirmation of hypertension and diabetes melitus as well as the urine and blood sample collection for analysis like proteins and glucose to rule out chronic kidney disease.

Brenda’s professional interests within the project are the prevention, early detection and diagnosis of non-communicable diseases. She aims to reduce the prevalence and improve the treatment of non-communicable diseases. She focuses on creating awareness by sensitizing community members on how to prevent and reduce non-communicable disease risk factors. Thus, she aims to reduce morbidity and mortality rates of non-communicable diseases by ensuring equitable access to health care and the provision of acquired medication.

Research Nurse


Hellen Namugenyi  

ACCESS Uganda

supports our work at the project site in Nakaseke as a research nurse.

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Her work primarily involves confirming measurement results and referrals from our community health workers in the field. Her professional interest in working in the Balamu project is early diagnosis and treatment of non-communicable diseases in Uganda.

Hellen aims to identify study participants with hypertension and diabetes mellitus from the community in the order they are referred to our facility for early treatment. In addition, she educates the community participants on how they can control themselves from acquiring non-communicable diseases through exercise and lifestyle adjustment. 

Research Nurse


Prossy Nabbumba

ACCESS Uganda

is responsible for screening and enrolling of study participants from the community.

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Prossy is registered with Uganda Nurses’ Council. She has two years’ experience in diagnosing and management of   noncommunicable diseases. On Balamu Project, Prossy is responsible for screening and enrolling of study participants from the community.

Prossy is interested in ensuring that people in hard-to-reach communities can access basic needs through supporting community outreaches. She is passionate about delivering quality health services to the people in the community.

Research Nurse


Winnie Namugula

ACCESS Uganda

is interested in providing quality medical care to the vulnerable patients in the community.

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Winnie is a registered enrolled nurse with three years experience in both management and clinical practice. Her major role on the Balamu Project is to screen and enroll study participants.

Winnie strives to control non-communicable disease patient’s blood pressure and blood sugars through continued health education, follow-up for adherence to medical treatment and research.

 

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Advisory board

 

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Our community health workers

At the centre of our project activities and crucial for its success


Albert Godfrey Kasule


Amiinah Nanyunja


Christine Namyalo


Denis Oloka


Everlyne Samalie Tibwaga


Florence Nakafeero


Fred Lutaaya


Isaac Ssemanda


Jane Nabanjala


Jane Nantongo Babirye


Kevin Namutebi


Kizito Mayombwe


Mable Najjemba


Moses Walakira


Patrick Sabwe


Ronald Kisekka


Ruth Nankabirwa


Sharon Kamwaka


Vincent Mawanda


Winnie Mazzi

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Our Partners

Partners

Charité – Department of Nephrology and Medical Intensive Care

The project is run at Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin in the Department of Nephrology and Medical Intensive Care. With more than 3,700 researchers and multiple international collaborations Charité is one of the largest and research-intensive teaching hospitals in Europe and a major driver of scientific development.

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The African Community Centre for Social Sustainability

ACCESS is a Ugandan, community-based organization which is located in the project’s district of Nakaseke, Uganda. The mission of ACCESS is to provide medical care, education and economic empowerment to vulnerable people and thereby strengthen entire communities. ACCESS is in charge of implementing the Balamu project in Nakaseke following its yearlong experience in successfully running projects within the community.

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Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins University was founded in 1876 as the first research university in the United States. The University’s School of Medicine continuously ranks among the best education institutions in the country. The University features the Johns Hopkins Center for Global NCD Research on Training.

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Yale University

Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, founded in 1701 in Saybrook Colony as the Collegiate School, is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States. The Department of Internal Medicine’s Office of Global Health of Yale University aims at confronting the imbalances in global health through research, education and health services.

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University of Miami

The University of Miami Miller School of Medicine is a leading research institution with global achievements in communicable and non-communicable disease research. The university is actively involved in international, national and local projects, which aim at the promotion of health and the limitation of disease burden.

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Makerere University College of Health Sciences – Makerere University Lung Institute

MLI was established in November 2015 to respond to the rising yet unrecognized epidemic of lung diseases in Uganda and other low-income countries. MLI is working to fight infectious lung diseases which are continuously growing in low resource settings.

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World Health Summit

The WHS is one of the world’s most prominent strategic forums for global health. The interdisciplinary event takes place within an atmosphere of academic freedom and is the premiere international platform for exploring strategic developments and decisions in the area of healthcare.

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Global Health Uganda

Global Health Uganda is a non-profit organization and a multi-disciplinary research collaboration. Registered in April 2010 by Ugandan and American health scientists from Makerere University, University of Minnesota and Michigan State University, it supports Balamu in the grant administration.

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