Meet Professor Moses Joloba, a real-life hero using data to fight TB

In this series, we’re profiling real-life superheroes who are fighting to end preventable diseases. Each one has an alter-ego from our quiz, “Which Lifesaving Superhero Are You?” Take the quiz to find out which hero you are.

Meet Professor Moses Joloba, AKA Professor Data! Armed with data and information, he’s able to spot patterns and share his knowledge across Africa.

Inside Uganda’s Supranational Reference Laboratory, Professor Moses Joloba is hard at work in the fight against tuberculosis (TB). His mission is to share his expertise and make health security and TB testing easier, not just in Uganda, but across Africa.

The fight against this disease is far from easy. TB is the number one infectious disease killer in the world. In 2017 alone, 1.6 million people died from the disease.

While there are many challenges to combating TB, Professor Joloba and his team are focused on one particular aspect: TB tests. These tests can be complicated and expensive, leaving many clinics unable to do them. Since TB is so difficult to detect, nearly 40% of people with active TB are undiagnosed, leaving millions of people untreated and contagious.

That’s why the Supranational Reference Laboratory supports 21 countries in Africa in conducting TB tests. Professor Joloba is also working to make sure labs across the continent have strong health systems to combat TB.

Moses Joloba

Becoming stronger against TB

“We serve as a demonstration site. This is peer-to-peer learning, where the countries that face the same challenges as we do can learn from us,” says Professor Joloba. “TB reference managers come here, we train them, we mentor them, and we challenge them. They go back to their countries motivated and empowered.”

The training that TB managers receive helps them build sustainable health systems in their communities. Creating good data systems is crucial to this. Without them, it is more difficult to find missing patients and discover the reasons they’re not getting treatment. Building stronger health systems that can collect and process data creates in a stronger defense against TB. When implemented across multiple countries, the continent as a whole has stronger defense.

The support given from this lab has immensely improved knowledge of TB tests and lab services in the region. Now, less than 10% of the samples received in Professor Joloba’s lab come from outside of Uganda, as more countries’ labs are able to handle complex TB tests on their own.

“We are happy more countries are gaining full capacity to conduct their own tests,” says Professor Joloba. “We want to get ourselves out of the business of testing samples from other countries. Our target is to mentor these countries to be independent of us.”

Are you super inspired by this hero? Click here to learn about four other awe-inspiring people who are fighting against preventable disease.


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