Dr. Adeodata Rukyalekere Kekitiinwa, known by her peers, workmates, subordinates, and colleagues as Dr. Addy, is an accomplished and renowned physician, lecturer, and Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine Children.. She was conferred as Associate Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, in Houston, TX, USA in 2014
Dr. Addy is the Executive Director of the Baylor College of Medicine Children’s Foundation- Uganda. She also more than triples as a Clinical Research Leader (CRS) at Baylor-Uganda, IMPAACT P1115 Investigator of Record, Site Principal Investigator for the ODYSSEY trial, CO-investigator- SMILE trial, Site Principal Investigator D3 trial, and Principal Investigator Breather Plus trial.
Hers is a story of determination, resilience, tenacity, and fortitude to impact the lives of children and families of all those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS.
Since 2005, Dr Addy has walked the talk, practically leading successful teams, establishing, managing, and running many technical HIV pediatric and adolescent campaigns at Uganda’s Ministry of Health, and formulation of policies that guide the implementation of pediatric and adolescent HIV prevention programs across Africa. Addy hands over ED leadership in Baylor on 31st of July 2022.
Baylor’s Communication Specialist Joseph Basoga, caught up with her to briefly recount the story of her uniquely excellent service at Baylor for the last 18 years..
BAYLOR UGANDA AND DR. ADEODATA R. KEKITINWA (DR. ADDY), A JOURNEY OF DETERMINATION.
In 2003, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Uganda office noted that pediatric HIV/AIDS care and treatment services represented a significant gap in Uganda’s overall strategy for addressing HIV/AIDS. The CDC Global AIDS Program (GAP) and University Technical Assistance Program (UTAP) later invited BIPAI to Uganda to build Uganda’s capacity using the experience gained in the Botswana Paediatric care and treatment program. CDC approached the Paediatric and Child Health department to plan how to work with BIPAI on this activity.
Prof. Philippa Musoke, then head of the Department of Paediatric and Child Health, asked Dr. Addy to take over the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Clinic management at the Child Health Centre, Mulago, Hospital. At that time, Dr Addy was a senior consultant for a diarrhea ward where over 50% of the children admitted there were born with HIV, and were registering a very high death rate. “There were no Prevention of Mother services in the country save for those women participating in research. Over 50% of the children born with HIV died before their second birthday. “Recalls Dr. Addy adding that the majority of people, including health workers, thought that the clinic services were prolonging the suffering of HIV-infected children.
In October 2004, Dr. Addy was appointed the first Clinic Director. Within a short time of reorganizing the clinic with support from Dr. Denis Tindyebwa, now the Executive Director of the African Network for Care of Children Affected by HIV/AIDS (ANECCA), the clinic started to realize some successes for the children and their families.
In 2006, with support from BIPAI, Baylor Uganda under Dr. Addy registered to become an NGO and formed governance structures, hired staff, and opened an account. The NGO embraced Baylor College of Medicine’s best practices in every aspect of the operation. Up to this time, ACLAIM Africa Limited, a leadership and management consulting firm hired the Baylor staff and managed the Organization funds.
In 2007, Baylor Uganda won its first CDC PEPFAR grant to expand Paediatric HIV care outside Kampala. This maiden grant opened everybody’s eyes to realize that children are not small adults and could live a healthier and more fulfilled life if supported.
In 2010, Dr. Addy led a team that established the first Paediatric and Adolescent unit at the Ministry of Health. Still, at the helm of Baylor Uganda, she aggressively expanded Paediatric and adolescent services nationally. “I implemented five other CDC grants and in 2019, we expanded our scope to include Global Health Security. Then in 2021, we got our first USAID Comprehensive HIV/AIDS grant for 15 districts in the Eastern region” says Dr. Addy with an approval smile of a person who has been in the trenches of hard work.
Dr. Addy says that she is happy and proud to see what Baylor has become because the last 18 years have been nothing but hardwork and resilience. “I am immensely grateful to the Board, the Ministry of Health in Uganda, the CDC leadership, and our other partners who have trusted and believed in me to steer this organization” she appreciates.
Baylor Uganda started as a small clinic, operating for one day a week. Baylor Under Dr. Addy now boasts of over 25 projects, some of which are research-related, 17 active studies, and seven evaluations. “I have attracted and enabled several partnerships and collaborations that have yielded the achievements we present today. Our programs and research studies are now a mix of HIV/AIDS, Global Health Security, and Maternal, Newborn, Child, and Adolescent health” she affirms
Dr. Addy says that Nineteen years ago when USA’s President Bush commissioned PEPFAR, no one knew that there would be a strong organization called Baylor Uganda. She adds that’s that PEPFAR has contributed significantly to Baylor Uganda’s growth by providing the organization an opportunity to compete for funds, build systems, and serve the people of Uganda. “We began with US$640,000 from a CDC grant to Baylor College of Medicine for technical assistance to Pediatric HIV in Uganda. To date, our budget is close to $40M,” she remarks with the exclamation, typical of a resolute administrator that understands what it takes to mobilize funds for community intervention.
According to Dr. Addy COVID 19 response opened Baylor to the world of global health security and other infectious diseases. Baylor Uganda’s systems built over this period have exposed the organization’s resilience in protecting and ensuring that there is no loss of the hard-earned HIV/AIDS gains even when the COVID Pandemic struck.
She says and I quote “I learned how to be flexible and swift in decision-making to save lives and further appreciate the partnership with the district leadership”
Over the years, Baylor Under Dr. Addy has put up a spirited fight to provide technical and leadership capacity that has built infrastructure especially laboratories, and improved collection and coordination of Maternal Child Health, surveillance, and health information data. This data has informed health policy and service provision in Uganda. With most of these good policies in place, the board and management must ensure that these systems established are sustainable and resilient to prevent and respond to HIV/AIDS and other diseases.
She fervently appreciates many people who have left a mark on her life and inspired her to achieve. First, Mr. Michael Mizwa, who has served as board chair for all the time she led.
Dr Addy has the following words for Mr. Micheal Mizwa a man who recently conducted her last performance appraisal and awarded her an excellent 4.5 “You walked the journey with me as an individual, mentored me, and kept me calm even when things were not moving in the right direction. I thank you for your dedication and service to Baylor Uganda. Your selflessness is challenging to match. You have served as if you were in Uganda, and most of us did not realize the 8 hours difference between us. You truly reflect the American generosity that Uganda has continued to enjoy for the last 19 years through the PEPFAR program. I hope to continue learning from you as I transition into retirement.”
She continues to say that she enjoyed the vigor and rigor of the entire Board as Mr. Mizwa performed his oversight roles, with an excellent mix of talent.
Mr. Micheal Mizwa, the founding Board of Directors Member and chairman of Baylor Uganda since 2005, is quick to state in his most recent performance appraisal of a lady that has walked the talk for 18 years and scored excellently. “the score of 4.5 makes Addy a near-perfect leader. I would have awarded and rated her 5.0 but I must leave room to grow even more. Otherwise she deserves that 5.0 in many ways”.
He adds that “Dr. Kekitiinwa successfully transitioned to leading exclusively from behind, like shepherded with a trusted flock; ever-present, always guiding forward down the safe passage and trusting her senior leaders to stay the course even when unavailable in attendance”.
Dr. Addy is also whole-heartedly grateful to her Senior management team and the entire Baylor staff, for believing in her and for working together to achieve Baylor’s organizational goals. Baylor’s work is very demanding, but she says that her colleagues accepted that they all needed to serve above and beyond to realize Baylor’s vision and mission.
Her prayer is that they remain focused and loyal to each other and Baylor’s internal and external clients. “I have asked each of them to continue the journey of succession planning for each directorate to avoid the high cost of poor succession. The Board needs to keep a keen eye on the succession pipeline and processes if we are to retain talent to achieve our mission” she concludes.
But Dr. Addy is not all gone, she will actively participate as a member of the Advisory Council to keep Baylor Soaring high. Thank you Dr. Adeodata R. Kekitiinwa for your service.
To the Baylor family: Our next issue will be dedicated to memories we all have had with Dr. Addy. Please submit them, in time, to firstname.lastname@example.org.