Prof. Francis Omaswa (2nd left) being installed as the President of the Kampala Rotary Club in Kampala on June 30, 2022. (Photo by Alfred Ochwo)
John Odyek
Journalist @New Vision

Prof. Francis Omaswa, a renowned medical expert, has taken the wheel of Kampala Rotary Club as its new president, promising to push for improved health of its members and the country at large. 

Started in 1957, Kampala Rotary Club is the oldest in Uganda.

“Health is made at home, but it is repaired in a hospital when it is broken down,” Omaswa underlined his warmhearted mantra at a colourful installation ceremony at Sheraton Hotel in Kampala on Thursday (June 30).

“Rotarians have to be a good example. We can be the salt that can change Uganda," said the 79-year-old.

Omaswa, a member of Uganda’s COVID-19 response team, said that following months of lockdown, Rotarians can start teaming up to deliver service to communities.

A man of vast experience

Omaswa, was director-general of health services in the 1990s and 2000s and was one of the brains behind the setting up of the Uganda Heart Institute in the late 1980s.

He has been keen on demonstrating how to deliver cost-effective rural surgical services and is now the executive director of the African Center for Global Health and Social Transformation.

He promised that under his leadership, Kampala Rotary Club will deliver many services in the water, health, and education sectors.

Omaswa, who became a Rotarian in 1987, said he also plans to open up a Rotary Club in Ngora, his home district, where young Rotarians (Rotaractors) would be involved.

Outgoing Kampala Rotary Club president Henry Rugamba said that during his tenure, they worked on a water project in Aloi, Barlonyo in northern Uganda, together with the National Water and Sewerage Corporation to supply clean water to communities. 

'Health is everybody’s business'

Dr. Yonas Tegegn Woldemariam, the World Health Organisation (WHO) representative to Uganda, gave a keynote address at the installation event.

He said that the Rotarian movement is a great partner of the WHO, adding that Rotarians provide large amounts of funding for activities, such as polio eradication and pandemic responses.

“WHO’s strategy this year is promoting health and wellbeing. Every citizen has to be responsible for their health and have a balanced life,” said Woldemariam. 

“We have to prevent diseases from happening through health security and promoting primary healthcare.

"We want to address health emergencies. The world was thinking epidemics are for Africa, flu for Asia. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that health is everybody’s business,” said the WHO chief.

Memorial lecture plan

Mike Sebalu, the Rotary District Governor for Kampala, said Omaswa is celebrated globally in the health sector for his outstanding contributions.

He commended the Rotary Club of Kampala for having good quality members, numbers and good stature, underlining that a few clubs that started in the 1960s have seen their membership currently experience a negative rate of growth. 

Sebalu said that they are planning to have a memorial lecture for the late Rotary International President-elect, Sam F. Owori, who died unexpectedly in July 2017 due to complications from surgery.

Sebalu asked that the legacy of Owori lived on through the memorial lectures. 

Owori was a member of the Rotary Club Kampala for many years until he was elected in 2016 to lead Rotary International. His term as Rotary’s 108th president would have begun on July 1, 2018.

The late Bank of Uganda Governor, Emmanuel Tumusiime Mutebile, was an active member of the Kampala Rotary Club.

Meanwhile, Rasta Rob, the DJ for the installation night, played memorable tunes that kept the audience humming to beats and occasionally grooving in their seats.

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