UZ Academic Honoured In US For Social Media Innovation In Public Health

Harare, June 3, 2014- The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) honored Zimbabwe public health expert Donewell Bangure with the International Night Honor – the 2014 William H. Foege Award for Most Outstanding Public Health Scientific Oral Presentation – during the Epidemic Intelligence Service Conference held at the organization’s headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia.

Bangure, who works as Assistant Field Coordinator at the University of Zimbabwe School Of Public Health, was rewarded for his presentation entitled, “Effectiveness of Short Message Reminders on Childhood Immunization Programme in Kadoma, Zimbabwe, 2013 – A Randomized Controlled Trial.” The study showed that the use of short message services (SMS) reminders increased the uptake of immunization services in Kadoma, Mashonaland West. 

 Announcing news of the award, Peter Kilmarx, Country Director of the Zimbabwe office of CDC, said Bangure’s recognition was an endorsement of the excellent teaching and practice conducted jointly by the University of Zimbabwe and the Ministry of Health and Child Care. 

“Dr. Bangure’s accomplishments are a reflection of the rigor of the Masters Degree in Public Health – Field Epidemiology Training Program (MPH/FETP) and the commitment of the recipient, faculty, and supervisors as well as the Ministry of Health and Child Care,” said Kilmarx. 

 Since 2000, CDC- Zimbabwe has been providing financial and technical support to the University of Zimbabwe’s two-year Masters in Public Health (MPH) program that consists of classroom teaching (30%) and on the job field training (70%). The support is meant to help strengthen national and local public health systems and to address the severe worldwide shortage of skilled epidemiologists and support the Ministry of Health and Child Care’s capacity to recruit, train, and employ public health practitioners to achieve national health goals.

The William H. Foege Award for Most Outstanding Public Health Scientific Oral Presentation was established in honor of Dr. William H. Foege, the renowned epidemiologist and former CDC Director credited with devising the global strategy that led to the eradication of smallpox in the late 1970s. The William H. Foege Award is the highest International Night Honor and is presented for best scientific oral presentation. 

Bangure is the second African national to win the award after Nigerian Dr. Luka Ibrahim was recognized for his presentation on “Factors Associated with Interruption of Treatment among Pulmonary Tuberculosis Patients in Plateau State – Nigeria, 2011” two years ago. 

Commenting on the award, Bangure said he was dedicating the “unexpected” award to the great family at Kadoma City Health Department, his mentors Professor Mufuta Tshimanga, Mr Notion Gombe, Dr Lucia Takundwa and Mr Daniel Chirundu; and his family. 

“I thought it was a dream, I did not expect to win, but the fact that my abstract was among the six that were selected out of the over 200 abstracts submitted, was a big prize for me,” said Bangure.  “I think it’s a sign of hard work.”