who is Dr Diana Kanzira Atwine
Who is Dr Diana Kanzira Atwine. Photo/New Vision

Who is Dr Diana Kanzira Atwine? Flash Uganda Media looks at her biography, early life, education and family of Permanent Secretary of the Uganda Ministry of Health

Dr Diana Kanzira Atwine, is a Ugandan Physician, Consultant Physician, Medical Administrator, known for Medical knowledge Administration Skills, Civil Servant, a mother and a wife. 

She is the incumbent Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health, Uganda.

She was appointed to that position on 4 November 2016 by H.E. the President of the Republic of Uganda, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni

Dr Diana Atwine replaced Dr Asuman Lukwago, who transferred as Permanent Secretary to the Education Services Commission.

Dr Diana Atwine – Early Life and Education

Dr Diana Atwine Kanzire was born in 1973, to Ernest Rujundira (father) and Joy Kensheka Rujundira (mother) in Galiraya, on the southern shores of Lake Kyoga in Kayunga District, Central Region of Uganda. 

She is the third born in the family.

She attended Bweranyangi Girl’s Senior Secondary School for her middle school (O-Level) and Mount St Mary’s College Namagunga, a Girls School for her high school (A-Level) education.

From St Mary’s College Namagunga, Dr Atwine joined Mbarara University, School of Medicine, where she pursued a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery degree, specializing in Internal Medicine.

After her degree, Atwine proceeded with her studies and she was awarded a Master of Medicine degree by the same University.

Dr Diana Atwine replaced Dr Asuman Lukwago
Dr Diana Atwine replaced Dr Asuman Lukwago

Work and Experience

Dr Atwine worked for a brief period at St. Francis Hospital Nsambya, before she joined the Uganda Joint Clinical Research Centre (JCRC).

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From there Dr Atwine joined State House of Uganda, where she was given the title of the President’s Private Secretary in Charge of Medical Affairs. 

In that capacity, she served as one of President Museveni’s physicians.

In 2009, she was tasked to head what was officially known as the Medicine and Health Services Delivery Monitoring Unit, specifically tasked to investigate corruption in Uganda’s Ministry of Health.

By June 2010, the unit that she headed had (a) uncovered an illegal racket by Ugandan and Kenyan officials to sell drugs across their common border (b) brought 78 cases to court (c) recovered stolen drugs worth more than Shs200 million (US$60,000) and (d) arrested at least 12 imposters, pretending to be qualified health workers on the payroll of Mulago National Referral Hospital.

Currently, Atwine is the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, appointed on 4 November 2016, after a Permanent Secretaries reshuffle, cabinet wide by H.E. the President.

Dr Diana Atwine Family 

Diana Atwine is married to Mr Kanzire and together they have children.

Controversies

The Parliament Public Accounts Committee (PAC) once handed over the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Dr Diana Atwine to the Parliament Criminal Investigation Department (CID) over a mischarge of over Shs2.2bn.

Dr Diana Atwine to the Parliament Criminal Investigation Department
Dr Diana Atwine appeared before the Parliament Criminal Investigation Department (CID) over a mischarge of over Shs2.2bn. Photo/SoftPower News

Dr Atwine had appeared before the committee to respond to any queries that were highlighted in the Auditor General’s report of 2017/2018.

The Permanent Secretary together with Ronald Ssegawa, Atwine’s Under Secretary were handed over to the CID to record statements over mischarge of over Shs2 billion part of which was meant for construction of pediatric surgery wards in regional referral hospitals.

The committee members faulted Atwine for flouting the Public Finance Management Act, which requires that one seeks permission from the Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Finance, also Secretary the Treasury before any allocation funds can be diverted for other use.

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The money in question was used for the rehabilitation and expansion of Kayunga Hospital. However, this project had not been catered for by the government in the budget allocation for the f/y under scrutiny, according to the audit report.

Funds to a tune of Shs4.8bn had been earmarked for the construction of the pediatric surgery in regional referrals but according to the auditor general’s report, the funds could not be utilized owing to lack of verified payment certificates from some contractors.

The Under Secretary, Ronald Ssegawa admitted to the mistake committed which prompted the Aruu South MP, Odong Otto to move a motion that he should be handed over to the CID for further investigations into the matter.

Dr Atwine later wrote in a tweet attributing the allegations to some people “who are trying to settle their scores”

In another set of controversy, The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Dr Diana Atwine dragged to court the former Director-General of Health Services, Ministry of Health Prof. Anthony Mbonye K. over defamation in his self-published book, Uganda’s Health Sector – through Turbulent Politics (1958-2018).

In his book, Mbonye says the appointment of inexperienced junior officials to influential positions in the Health Ministry has undermined the quality of services delivered in the health sector.

He stated that a litany of in-fighting and power struggles led to his resignation.

Now, the allegations by the Senior Doctor have ignited Dr Atwine to sue him saying her name has been tarnished and defamed by the allegations she says are false.

“In November 2018, the defendant, Prof Mbonye authored and published a book titled “Uganda’s Health Sector through turbulent politics (1958-2018) with various chapters defaming the plaintiff (Dr Atwine),” reads Dr Atwine’s suit.

“On page 121 of the book, Chapter VIII titled Politics and crisis of Leadership in the Health Sector 2010-2018, the defendant, Dr Mbonye authored and published the following words: earlier, the little known but vicious Dr Diana Atwine had sought to capitalize on her closeness to the First Family to ascend the hierarchy of the health sector but without much success,” “Dr Atwine states.

She contends that the allegations made against her by Prof. Mbonye are completely false, and his actions were malicious, careless, callous and wanton.

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Atwine also contends that the defamatory statements have been widely circulated by the defendant among the public in Uganda and internationally through the sale of the book and its review online.

Atwine then demanded an apology from Prof. Mbonye, general damages, exemplary damages, a permanent injunction, interest and costs of the suit.

Diana Atwine is married to Mr Kanzire
Diana Atwine is married to Mr Kanzire and together they have children. Photo/Business Focus

The genesis of the matter

Prof. Mbonye was appointed Acting Director-General of Health Services in June 2016, but the Inspector General of Government (IGG) investigated claims that he had re-written the job description to benefit him when interviews were conducted to fill the position substantially.

It was established than that there was a conflict of interests in Prof. Mbonye not informing the Permanent Secretary of his application for the job and he was removed from his position in September 2017.

He was then reinstated as he challenged the decision in the High Court.

On January 31, 2018, Justice Henrietta Wolayo, dismissed the IGG’s findings and ruled that there had been no conflict of interest and that Prof. Mbonye had not been given a fair hearing but the ruling was unfortunately passed two days after Prof. Mbonye had resigned.