Tributes poured in yesterday following the death of Prof Anthony Kabanza Mbonye, the former director general of Health Services. Prof Mbonye was also the husband of Ms Lucy Nakyobe, the outgoing State House Comptroller, who was recently appointed as the head of Public Service and Secretary to Cabinet.
"The SH Comptroller, Ms Lucy Nakyobe Mbonye, with deep sorrow announces the death of her dear husband, Prof Anthony Kabanza Mbonye, this morning (yesterday). He was (a) Prof at the School of Public Health, College of Health Sciences, M[A]K (Makerere University) & UCU (Uganda Christian University) and former Director General Health Service," the Senior Presidential Press Secretary, Ms Linda Nabusayi, tweeted.
A condolence message from President Museveni on Twitter read: "I want to express condolences to our incoming Head of Civil Service, Lucy Nakyobe, on account of the death of her husband, Dr Mbonye. His untimely death is a big disappointment for the country and all who know his work in the medical service."
"He still had a lot to contribute. I salute Lucy Nakyobe because she did everything possible to support him during the time of his sickness. She was always briefing me. May his soul rest in eternal peace," the President added.
The Ministry of Health in a tweet yesterday said: "... Prof Mbonye's immense contribution to the health sector will never be forgotten."
The cause of his death is still unknown to the public. Prof Mbonye, who graduated in 2006 from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, over the years, he attained a wealth of knowledge and skills in medicine and public health specifically in the field of malaria, maternal health and HIV/Aids.
He prided himself in providing technical leadership and concluded a package of strategic interventions to improve health service delivery in the country.
While serving as Commissioner of Health Services and later as Director of Health Services, he coordinated multiple development partners in the control of epidemics and disease outbreaks for ailments such as cholera and malaria.
Head of several interventions
He also spearheaded several strategies that improved access to sexual and reproductive health services with reduced fertility, increased access to contraception and adolescent health services while serving as the Assistant Commissioner of Health Services and head of the Reproductive Health Programme.
Back in January 2019, Prof Mbonye released a book titled, Uganda's Health Sector Through Turbulent Politics (1958-2018), which captured the intrigue at the Ministry of Health.
He wrote about how top jobs in the ministry were not being awarded on merit but rather on technical know-how and who lobbied best, sparking protest from Health officials.
The book followed his resignation from the ministry where he served as director, general of health services, a position he held from 2016 to 2018.
Though he was temporarily removed from the position in September 2017, he was reinstated after the decision was challenged in the High Court.
2012 to July 25, 2021: Professor, College of Health Sciences, Makerere University
2007 to July 25, 2021: Professor, Department of Public Health, Uganda Christian University
2016 to 2018: Director, General of Health Services; Ministry of Health
2008 to 2017: Director Health Services; Clinical and Community Health, Ministry of Health
2008 to 2017: Commissioner of Health Services; Head of Department of Community Health, Ministry of Health
2002 to 2008: Assistant Commissioner of Health Services- Reproductive Health
What others say about him
Dr Joyce Moriku Kaducu, the State Minister for Primary Healthcare: "My heartfelt condolences to the @StateHouseUg Comptroller, Ms Lucy Nakyobe Mbonye, for the loss of your dear husband... We will always cherish his hard work in the medical fraternity and service."
Dr Sabrina Kitaka, paediatrician and senior lecturer at Makerere University School of Medicine: "Rest well Prof Anthony Mbonye, heartfelt condolences to his family and the medical fraternity"
Dr Richard Idro, president of the Uganda Medical Association (UMA): "Dr Mbonye was one of the finest leaders of the health profession in Uganda. An accomplished doctor, public health physician, research scientist, teacher, mentor to so many doctors and a role model. [While serving as] Director General ofHealth Services, he supported the doctors' cause. We met him multiple times and planned together. He is a life member of UMA."
Dr Mukuzi Muhereza, UMA secretary general: "Prof Mbonye [was] a very polished gentleman, a brilliant epidemiologist. He fought Ebola, maternal mortality. He understood the health sector in Uganda so well. He was a very good teacher of public health. We shall miss you, sir."
Dr Asuman Lukwago, PS, education services commission): "The Health fraternity will greatly miss you Prof. Anthony Mbonye. You've impacted positively on the health of women and the girl [child], you led fights against epidemics, you taught, published and planned for the health of Ugandans."