The afternoon session of the event consisted of 2 panels; the first addressed Research, Quality and Safety in East Africa, and was moderated by Dr Tamara Bugembe, Consultant Paediatrician in the UK. The floor was opened by Dr Jane Kengeya-Kayondo of the Africa Research Excellence Fund. She spoke passionately about her organisation’s mission to support mid-career scientists in Africa, who are most at risk of leaving the scientific profession due to lack of funding and mentorship support. The next speaker was Prof Nelson Sewankambo, Chair of the African Medical Schools Association; he spoke about the impact of collaboration leading to the creation of a renowned research institute in Uganda (Infectious Diseases Institute), which also provides high quality healthcare to patients.
Delegates then heard from Professor Merlin Wilcox on his research into preventable childhood deaths in Africa; this was heartrending, but highlighted the systemic reasons behind the needless loss of life, which can now be addressed. He was followed by Neil Pakenham-Walsh, the coordinator of the HIFA campaign (Healthcare Information For All), an international online platform that enables information sharing among healthcare stakeholders worldwide. The next panellist was Mr Patrick Asiimwe, a member of the diaspora who spoke passionately about his campaign to improve road safety in Uganda.
After another engaging and stimulating Q&A session, we then had a second panel, whose remit was Health System strengthening opportunities for East Africa, moderated by Miss Beverly Cheserem, Locum Consultant Neurosurgeon, UK.
The first speaker was Dr John Paul Bagala, the Uganda UK Health Alliance / Global Health Exchange Country Co-ordinator. He spoke eloquently on the outcomes of this alliance, and the steps that the Ugandan government is taking to encourage the return of healthcare diaspora. We next heard from Dr Bayju Thakar on innovations in healthcare provision through telemedicine, via DoctorCare Anywhere. His passionate talk challenged delegates to think about using digital technology to change paradigms of access to healthcare.
Dr Gloria Ngaiza, Health Adviser at Department for International Development (DFID), then spoke on innovative methods that are being used to strengthen healthcare in Tanzania, supported by the Tanzanian government via the Tanzanian Digital Health Roadmap and the Human Development Innovation Fund, in partnership with the British Government. The session was rounded up by Dr Paul Ahura from THET (Tropical Health And Education Trust), who emphasised the importance of understanding global issues, but acting in ways that reflect local needs, as THET is doing in Uganda, using 8 Principles of Partnership.
To close the Summit, Dr Josephine Ojiambo, Deputy Secretary General of the Commonwealth eloquently summarised what we had heard throughout the day and challenged us to invest in healthcare; not only financially, but also via reversing the brain drain to develop knowledge and information systems that will strengthen African healthcare systems.
Delegates were then treated to drinks, canapes and some African music courtesy of our hosts the British Medical Journal.
Our thanks to the sponsors and supporters of this summit, as well as the organising committee, for such a successful event. This includes Lord Dolar Popat (UK trade Envoy to Uganda and Rwanda), Hon Jaffer Kapasi (Honorary Consul General for Uganda), Lord Sheikh, Lord Nigel Crisp, The BMJ and BMA, Morningside Pharmaceuticals, Doctor Daycare, and mPowering Frontline Health Workers.
In the interim, as Dr Ojiambo challenged us, let us go and do something to contribute to improving health in East Africa, as we look forward to the next Summit!