Filimin Niyongabo

Filimin Niyongabo, Master of Environmental and Occupational Health

Makerere University School of Public Health
Environmental Health

What inspired you to study public health?

My desire to be a scientist started in my primary education, however, things became clear along the way. From dreaming of being a scientist, to being a doctor and later to being a professional who prevents and controls diseases. It always bothered me to see friends get sick of malaria frequently as if the cause was unknown. On the other hand, I used to hear of Ugandan health workers involved in controlling outbreaks of various diseases including cholera and Ebola. During my high school vacation, my father encouraged me to visit an uncle, a Professor of veterinary medicine for a career-related conversation. I explained to him that I did not desire to be a doctor who treats already sick people, but rather one who discovers the source of disease and prevents people from getting sick. That is how I was introduced to Environmental Health Science, a bachelor’s course at Makerere University School of Public Health (MakSPH).

What has been the single most rewarding experience of your career/studies so far?

After my Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Health Science, I got the opportunity to work with my mentor at MakSPH in promoting community health in Central Uganda through working with Community Health Workers (CHWs) also known as Village Health Teams (VHTs). I was involved in training over 700 CHWs in several aspects of public health including antimicrobial stewardship, non-communicable diseases, epidemic and pandemic diseases, leadership, and communication among others. It was satisfying hearing a CHW say that his or her mind has been opened after receiving correct information through our health training sessions.

What do you hope to accomplish in your career?

In my public health career, I will work towards gaining more expertise in the field of environmental and occupational health including pursuing a PhD. I hope to be a practitioner and consultant in the field of Health, Safety, and Environment.


Public Health, more so Environmental and Occupational Health is not well appreciated in Uganda especially among many stakeholders including political and technical decision-makers. Therefore, one has to start pursuing a public health career with determination and readiness to engage all stakeholders in all strata of society. The famous saying that prevention is better than cure should be prioritized and actualized in the way we do things.