Sabrina Bakeera-Kitaka, a Senior Lecturer in Paediatrics and Child Health at the School of Medicine, Makerere University College of Heath Sciences, Kampala, Uganda, exemplifies the values of what Professor Paget Stanfield calls the complete paediatrician.
Dr. Stanfield, a former head of paediatrics at Makerere, teaches us that a complete paediatrician puts the child at the centre of their work and thoughts; needs a razor gaze in order to see beyond the obvious; uses the cure of disease to teach prevention to the caregivers; insists on high standards; is a good communicator; is an explorer and voracious reader; and does not neglect her own family.
I was witness to some of these aspects of Dr. Kitaka during a visit to Mulago Hospital in May 2014. As Sabrina showed me around the hospital, it was very evident that she loved her work, adored the children, put them at the center of all she said and did and respected their parents as partners in the care of her patients.
Her interaction with members of the health care team, regardless of their role, revealed a modern physician, one who understood that she was only a member of the team, not the sole owner of paediatric knowledge.
Born in Uganda to Paul Sam Ssemuli Bakeera(deceased) and Mrs.Teddy Bakeera,a retired nurse, Sabrina’s early years were lived in the cosy little mining town of Kilembe Mines which was completely cosmopolitan.Her father was an engineer.
Sabrina’s family interacted with several foreigners and locals hence growing her desire to reach out to multiple individuals by learning their various languages and cultures.
Sabrina attended the Namhuga European Preparatory School in Kilembe Mines from the tender age of 2 ½ years, and joined the prestigious all girls school at Mt.St.Mary’s College Namagunga from Senior One to Senior Six.
Her decision to study medicine was guided by her father, even though she had always wanted to be a high court judge, or an air hostess, or a news anchor.
Her decision to study paediatrics was determined during her medical training at Makerere University in Kampala where she saw a lot of children dying particularly from measles and other preventable diseases.
She obtained her Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery from Makerere University in 1995, and completed her Masters of Paediatrics and Child Health at Makerere University in July 2002.
Sabrina was a Gilead Fellow at the Infectious Diseases Institute in Kampala from 2003-2011 where she undertook a Fellowship in Paediatric Infectious Diseases and did research on HIV-infected adolescents.
She has co-directed the adolescent programs at the Paediatric Infectious Diseases Clinic (PIDC) in Mulago Hospital since August 2003 and made various health contributions in the print and press media including to the Straight Talk Newsletter.
The PIDC, is a Baylor-Uganda supported clinical center of excellence which has one of the largest Paediatric and Adolescent HIV programs in Eastern and Southern Africa with over 1200 HIV-infected adolescents in care.
Sabrina has taught Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine to both undergraduate and post graduate students at the Department of Paediatrics since October 2002. She has participated in and supervised research projects and has over 30 publications in peer reviewed journals.
She continues to participate in an on-going consultation with the WHO and UNICEF on the global scale-up of adolescent care among HIV positive patients and recently has engaged with WHO as an expert adressing the health needs of adolescents in Africa.
Sabrina is a past president of the Uganda Paediatrics Association and the Founding President of the Society of Adolescent Health of Uganda.
She sits on various Ministry of Health Committees and various Boards. She is a member of the Maternal Newborn and Child Health Cluster with the Ministry of Health, and also the Adolescent Technical Working Group.
She is a member of the Uganda National Advisory Committee for Vaccines and Immmunization and a former member of the GAVI Civil Society Steering Committee.
Sabrina is an Affiliate member of the Section on International Child Health (SOICH) of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
She sits on various boards including the Mengo Hospital Board, the Sanyu Babies Home Board, the Advisory Board of BRAC Uganda, the Board of Directors of the IDRC-Uganda, the Uganda Society for Health Scientists and the Straight Talk Foundation, among others.
Sabrina, the Complete Paediatrician, continues to explore beyond the comfortable boundaries of one who is already very well educated. She is still a student, a PhD Candidate at the School of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Antwerp, Belgium.
Her innovative and leadership skills were evident when she championed the construction of an all weather path from Old Mulago Hospital to the Medical School/New Mulago area. Sabrina raised funds and had the path paved in a relatively short time.
Sabrina is a mother of five biological children and is married to Andrew Kitaka, an engineer. They live in Kampala, Uganda.