Prof. Sebastian Kyalwazi : First Ugandan surgeon

May 19, 2012

The late Prof. Sebastian Kyalwazi is described as the greatest surgeon Uganda has ever had.

By Christopher Bendana

He is described as the greatest surgeon Uganda has ever had. The late Prof. Sebastian Kyalwazi the former head of the surgery department at Makerere University Medical School, Mulago left shoes too big for many other surgeons to fill.

Kyalwazi was born on October 31, 1919 in Masaka district. He attended his primary and junior School at Rubaga and Kitovu primary schools from 1931-36.

He studied at St Mary’s College, Kisubi between 1937-41, where he excelled not only in academics,but also in sports. There, he was tennis captain as well as cricket captain. He was on a Stanislaus Mugwanya scholarship for two years as a sports and academic giant. At Makerere University College, he was active in football and swimming. He went to Makerere University Medical School and graduated in 1948.

In 1956, he went to Britain for his postgraduate studies at Edinburgh as a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons, becoming the first East African to qualify as a surgeon.

In 1967, he was a World Health Organisation scholar in the former Czechoslovakia Cancer Institute where he explored more in the field of Oncology. He was elected the first African to the presidency of the Association of Surgeons of East Africa in 1968. He was Pope Paul VI’s surgeon when he visited Uganda in 1969. He was awarded the Order of St. Gregory by the Vatican for his service.

In 1968, he was appointed lecturer in the Department of Surgery, Makerere University Medical School. He passed through the ranks becoming professor and head of the Surgery Department in 1973.

He treated cancer patients and was too killed by cancer. He tried to tame the monster in patients, but it killed him. He died in London on January 25, 1992.

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