Profile: Dr. Alex Muganzi Muganga According to the World Health Organization, in 2013 there were over 35 million people living with AIDS worldwide. Although advancements in research, treatment, and prevention of AIDS have occurred in recent years, the disease is still a crippling problem, especially in sub Saharan Africa. In sub Saharan Africa the children of AIDS victims share an equally disturbing story. Dr. Alex Muganzi Muganga, the head of outreach at the Infectious Diseases Institute (IDI), lost his father in 1991, his mother in 1995, and his younger sister in 1996 to AIDS. Orphaned by age nineteen, it seemed as though all the doors to Alex’s future had been closed. Many orphans have no access to education and are subject to harsh child labor. However, Alex’s determination and outstanding performance in school led him down a more fortunate path. He received a scholarship from the district administration to pay the necessary fees to continue his education at the high school level. Alex’s academic achievements won him a government scholarship to attend Makerere University, where he studied human medicine. “I was lucky to get the scholarship,” he recalls. “There are not many AIDS orphans who are as lucky. Many do not have a chance to get an education or their basic needs. Some of them are infected and could die of AIDS. Others who may not be infected might live miserable lives.” Rewarded with a university-level education, Alex decided to use his knowledge in the field of HIV/AIDS care, and join in the global fight against the deadly pandemic that killed his parents and younger sister. In February 2003, Alex took first job in Arua, near the north-western border of Uganda. At Arua Hospital, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) had established one of Uganda’s earliest free antiretroviral (ARV) programs. The region was also the focal point of major armed conflicts involving the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and several hostile militia groups of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Murders, abductions and brutal attacks occurred on a daily basis, but as Alex explains, “West Nile is a hard-to-reach area but because of wanting to contribute to HIV/AIDS care, I ventured to work there.” In February 2004, he returned to Kampala to attend the month-long HIV/AIDS training course at the IDI. He recalled his decision to remain with the organization after his training ended, “IDI was an appropriate place to advance my HIV/AIDS career and offer my services, as well as my experience to the thousands of HIV/AIDS patients attending the clinic in need of care.” In 2007, Alex was promoted to Project Manager of the IDI/KCCA capacity building project. In 2009, he was promoted to Project Manager of the Kibaale Kiboga HIV/AIDS capacity Building Project, a position he held until October 2010 when he took over as the first head of the Outreach department at IDI. He explained that he was, “happy to be able to make a difference in the lives of the thousands of people… treat[Ed] at IDI.” Alex hopes his example will inspire millions of others around the world to join in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Accordia Global Health Foundation supports research, training, and education programs of African-owned health institutions. Almost a decade ago, Accordia helped Makerere University establish IDI. Today, IDI serves as a model for a sustainable, locally-owned, center of excellence because of its focus on saving lives in the region, strengthening systems, and offering new career paths to the brightest stars of Africa’s health workforce. Dr. Alex Muganzi Muganga’s journey of service, eventually lead him into a leadership position within IDI and is a testament the level of excellence IDI retains and nurtures. With more than 600 staff members, premium education and training programs, and research capable facilities, IDI will continue to make substantial impacts on health in sub Saharan Africa and retain Africa’s best and brightest.