The Second Annual IDI : A fun experience

When Dr Andrew Kambugu became the Sande-McKinnell Director of the Infectious Diseases Institute in June of 2018, having received the mantle from Richard Brough, one of his first deeds in office was to a long missive to All Staff about his 15 year IDI journey and his passion to lead the many teams in strengthening health systems.

Shortly after this, the idea of #ONEIDI was born, an enormous team building activity worthy of hundreds of staff in the many regions of the country that serve the IDI purpose in strengthening health systems.
On February 14th, 2020, the second annual One IDI event brought together staff from all over the country, appropriately on Valentine’s Day.

The event is dedicated to displaying the spirit of teamwork in the institution in spite of the physical distance between their different work stations. It also a chance for staff to network and get to know each other and encourage a working environment that is ideal for high-level performance.

The event started at 8 am with aerobics, after which breakfast and other sport and team building activities commenced. The emcees of the day were Pius Temera from the Global Health Security programe and Shadia Nakalema from the Prevention Care and Treatment unit in Mulago who coordinated the day splendidly.

They were part of an organizing committee that had representation from all of IDI’s units. The staff were organized in 12 alphabetical groups from A to L within which they actively participated and competed. The games were carefully selected with aim to manifest both teamwork and fun among the staff.



As I walked into this venue this morning, I was really taken aback by how many of us there are here. It started with 14 people who were deeply committed and united in making a difference in the lives of those affected by an infectious disease. We definitely would not be here if it was not for their visionary leadership, Kambugu said.

I have been drawn to the energy and creativity I have witnessed since I got here. My attention was immediately drawn to the slogans and taglines of the T-shirts of the different groups. My own group (H), has the tag line, “Believe, Achieve” and another said “One IDI, One Team, One Legacy”. I am fully convinced that the spirit of One IDI is still alive today, he added.

Kambugu noted that we are getting closer to achieving epidemic control of HIV/AIDS, but encouraged the staff not to lose momentum in closing the last gap. He explained that the recently launched five year strategic plan identifies IDI’s role in playing more catalytic roles.

Kambugu encouraged staff to leverage the experience, assets, relationships and other things accrued in the HIV response to benefit the fight against new and emerging infectious and well as neglected tropical diseases such as Ebola, Coronaviruses or Antimicrobial resistance.

He also mentioned the big data era and the emergence of super computers, ubiquitous mobile phone technology and increasing proportion of medical records that are electronic.

We have the opportunity to analyse and learn from large data sets and since we launched the 2nd African Centre of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Big Data, we now have the infrastructure to contribute to this revolution, he enthused.

Kambugu recognized the great role the Senior Management Team has played in allowing him enjoy his office. In the spirit of recognising staff, the executive director handed over plaques to the longest serving staff who have been with IDI since 2004. These were

  • Dr. Barbara Castelnuovo – Head of Research
  • Dr. Alex Muganzi – Head of Systems Strengthening
  • Ms. Susan Lamunu Shereni – Head of Finance and Administration
  • Ms. Christine Namakoyi – Receptionist: IDI Mulago
  • Mr. David Mugerwa – Transport Assistant
  • Mr. Charles Lubwama – Ware House Officer

In closing, he cited the recent award of the PACT-Karamoja grant to IDI, as a singular instance of the one-IDI spirit where staff from the health strengthening, training and capacity-building, Academy, research, strategy, finance and global health security programmes worked together to emerge with a winning proposal. Kambugu celebrated these efforts in securing our first USAID grant as a prime grantee, as well as entry into the under-served region of Karamoja.

Refreshments and meals were provided throughout the day as well as entertainment from the renowned Janzi Band. The event closed with a cake cutting and a barbeque.
“It was a wonderful experience and initiative considering how big IDI is. I hope the organisers can create better ways for the different employees to interact. I noticed many huddles based on work stations, which is understandable but should be a learning point for the next event, if One IDI is really to thrive as One IDI,” Joyce Kayaga, grants assistant, Academy.