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Prof. Nduggwa, Uganda’s Icon for Sickle Cell Treatment and Research Dies at 80

Nduggwa did one of the earliest studies to determine how widespread the trait of sickle cell is in Uganda and trained most of the paediatricians and haematology specialists working at the clinic now including the current head of the clinic Dr Philip Kasirye and Senior Pediatrician Deogratious Munube.
Prof. Chirstoper Nduggwa

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Prof Christopher Nduggwa, Uganda’s senior paediatrician and researcher has died.

Though his cause of death is still unrevealed as family sources are still unable to speak to the media, Nduggwa is eulogized as having endured staying in the country to work amidst difficulty declining lucrative opportunities to work abroad.

The 80-year old became head of the paediatrics department at Makerere University shortly after President Idi Amin expelled foreigners from the country forcing his British colleagues at Mulago to leave. He had only started lecturing at the university in 1971. 

According to Dr Richard Idro, the past President of the Uganda Medical Association who is his former student, apart from teaching them the details of paediatrics, he taught them life lessons like humility, placing patients first and keeping appointments.

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He remembers him as caring; explaining that when working on research programmes, he would ask them to divide up and accomplish their work as they often worked in very busy wards in addition to the outpatient clinic.  

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On her part, Celebrity Paediatrician Sabrina Kitaka says the professor is remembered for ensuring that masters students look beyond the usual with one of his favourite lessons being to ensure that they understand that a popular drug aspirin was a contraindication in children presenting with a viral infection.

Kitaka says that his private children’s clinic in downtown Kampala that he retired to is always flooded with children living with sickle cell disease and that some patients would not afford the bills, prompting him to treat them for free.

Nduggwa did one of the earliest studies to determine how widespread the trait of sickle cell is in Uganda and trained most of the paediatricians and haematology specialists working at the clinic now including the current head of the clinic Dr Philip Kasirye and Senior Pediatrician Deogratious Munube. 

Evelyn Mwesigwa, a sickle cell activist remembers him for giving his patients a lot of time to explain to him what they were battling which made their treatment outcomes better. She says without him, there is a lot she as a mother to a sickler teenager wouldn’t have known about the disease.

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One of the wards at the Sickle Cell Clinic in Mulago has been named after him for his contribution in explaining and treating the strange painful disease that was killing and still kills over 80 per cent of sufferers before clocking five years of age.

At the time of his death this morning, Nduggwa had done over 70 research works in areas of maternal health, sickle cell anaemia and HIV.

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