Moses R. Kamya

Champion of social justice and fighter of infectious diseases in Uganda


“To me, a career in public health is a career in social justice: ‘a rising tide lifts all boats.’”

Moses R. Kamya MBChB, M.Med, PhD, MPH ’95 is a Ugandan physician, academic, researcher, and academic administrator who serves as professor and dean of the Makerere University School of Medicine in Kampala, Uganda. For more than 20 years, he has been researching and teaching infectious diseases, with a particular interest in the interaction between malaria and HIV/AIDS. He is a central figure in training at multiple levels at Makerere University and significantly contributes to shaping the malaria and HIV treatment policies in Uganda. Kamya has a passion for capacity building of young African scientists.

On public health and the challenges we face

Public health is where the recognition exists that many if not all illnesses in a population are a product of the societal inequities in health care, housing, education, resource allocation, governments, and, more generally speaking, of poverty. That is true in California as it is in Uganda or elsewhere, and our interventions are designed with these inequities in mind. The epidemic of childhood diabetes and obesity in the United States is a direct result of a mix of all of the above, including the cheaper cost of unhealthy/sugary foods and drinks, the limited education of the families buying and feeding their kids, and the powerful lobbying groups being soda manufacturers and other big businesses that influence an economic bottom line. The downstream consequences of a society populated by unhealthy, inactive, undernourished children in the United States has parallels to a society in East Africa where children get sick with malaria several times a year, missing vital opportunities for adequate physical and cognitive growth, education, and overall vigor to pursue a good life for themselves. To me, a career in public health is a career in social justice: “a rising tide lifts all boats.” Why don’t we invest in public health the same way we invest in our militaries or our infrastructure? We should measure these investments in terms of healthier lives and not just GDP.

Public health dream team

Bill Gates, Michelle Obama, Mark Zuckerberg. Why? Money and vision, powerful female leadership and respect, the ability to reach the most people the fastest.

A change to one U.S. policy that would transform public health

I would make refined sugary products/soda a controlled substance or somehow make it cost 5-10 times what it does, and I would ban it from schools.

Honoree in the Media:

Moses Kamya: Cascade of HIV Care in Uganda
Moses Kamya on PEPFAR