27 October 2023

Promoting Life-saving Health Interventions for Vulnerable and Marginalised Communities in Uganda

The CSC is excited to share the 21st individual impact case study as part of our on-going series of case studies demonstrating the impact of Commonwealth Scholarships.

Joab facilitating a National Information Platforms for Nutrition workshop.

Featured in this case study is Joab Tusaasire who completed a Master’s degree in International Primary Health Care in 2010 as a distance learner through a Commonwealth Distance Learning Scholarship. Alongside his studies he worked as a Nutritionist for the Ministry of Health in Uganda and was subsequently promoted to a Senior Nutritionist. In this role he led a pilot research study that generated evidence on the appropriate dosage of locally made ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTAFA) for malnourished children and patients affected by HIV, AIDS, and tuberculosis to help their recovery. This treatment was approved by the Ministry of Health in Uganda and has been incorporated into its Nutrition Assessment Counselling and Support guidelines. Joab has also been instrumental in supporting the District Local governments to develop and implement five-year District Nutrition Action Plans which align with the Uganda Government National Development Plan and SDGs.

Joab’s development work supports two of the CSC Development Themes: Strengthening health systems and capacity; and Access, inclusion and opportunity. Moreover, his work contributes to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, particularly: SDG 1— No Poverty; SDG 2 — Zero Hunger; SDG 3 — Good health and wellbeing; and SDG 10 — Reduced inequalities.

In 2014, Joab joined World Vision as a Nutrition Specialist and contributed to the development of the 2015 to 2020 nutrition strategy for World Vision. Currently, he is a Consultant in Nutrition Governance for UNICEF and has played a pivotal role in supporting government departments and other NGOs to plan for nutrition interventions targeted at the most remote parts of Uganda. Joab is a renowned National Quality Improvement Coach and a founder of a start-up, Keziya Pharmaceuticals, which has improved access to pharmaceutical drugs and services to marginalised communities in Uganda.

Joab described how he has benefitted from the knowledge and skills gained while on his scholarship:

‘Enrolling for the Master’s study under the Commonwealth Scholarship contributed to my promotion to a Senior Nutritionist at Fort Portal Regional Referral Hospital. So, that was one of the first fruits that I got from this Scholarship. Then when I completed my studies, a Master’s qualification opened opportunities for me to be employed in jobs that need postgraduate academic level, which I wouldn’t have got if I didn’t get this Scholarship. The Master’s degree opened opportunity for me to serve in the community university, where a MSc was the minimum qualification for the starting position at university. I was taken up as a teaching assistant to share my experiences in management of nutrition with the students and the university. I could only get the opportunity to train others in the university that would expand support to managing the many cases of malnutrition in the region after attaining a Master’s degree sponsored by Commonwealth Scholarships.’

Upon reflecting on the impact of the Commonwealth Scholarship, Joab identified the most significant change to himself as a result of the Commonwealth Scholarship.

‘Uganda is a developing country, and there are a lot of struggles to meet needs at a personal level. So, when one doesn’t have employment, and they have a family, life becomes more challenging. So, the Scholarship was a life-changing opportunity for me. It helped me attain a Master’s qualification and skills which opened employment opportunities by organisations in my country. And this, on a personal level, has also helped me to look after my family. I support them to achieve their dreams.’

Joab identified providing the inpatient therapeutic care to children admitted at Fort Portal Regional Referral Hospital as the most significant change that he brought to his community as a result of the Commonwealth Scholarship.

‘One of the things that has been my major contribution was to oversee admitted patients, on the verge of death, and help them recover, with minimal supplies. I had about 647 children who were saved under my inpatient therapeutic care. If I were to meet a mother of a child that I treated while on the paediatric ward, they can smile and say, ‘This Uganda health worker saved my child’.’

Read Joab Tusaasire’s Case Study here.