​Our People

East Africa​

The AKU CoE WCH EA prides itself in a pool of experts with vast knowledge and experience in various aspects. These include research, epidemiology, biostats, monitoring and evaluation, data collection, analysis and reporting, public health, pediatrics as well as gynecology.  ​

Prof. Marleen Temmerman

Director of the Centre of Excellence in Women and Child Health, AKU East Africa
MD, MPH, PhD, Professor Obstetrics and Gynaecology, MBS, Honorary Senator

Prof. Dr Marleen Temmerman is Chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Aga Khan University (AKU) Hospital Nairobi, and Director of the Centre of Excellence in Women and Child Health, AKU East Africa. She is a health professional and researcher, started her international career in HIV/AIDS in Kenya, 1985. Managed to combine academic leadership including research (large track record of research projects and over 600 books and publications), clinical work (over 18,000 deliveries), teaching and mentorship (over 50 PhD students) across Europe, Africa, and China with global leadership (Elected Senator Belgian Parliament - Chair Committee Foreign Affairs, Development and Defence; WHO Director; Founding Director International Centre Reproductive Health) and advocacy to the benefit of the scientific world and the community at large. Currently Director Centre of Excellence in Women & Child Health, Aga Khan University East Africa. Full Professor Ghent University Belgium, with leave of absence. Member of the iERG, UN Secretary General Office; Penholder UN Global Strategy for Women's, Children, Adolescents' Health 2016-2030; Commissioner Guttmacher-Lancet Commission Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights; Member advisory group African First Ladies against Cervical, Breast and Prostate Cancer; Member Maisha Maarifa HIV/SRH Research Hub, Kenyan NACC. Senior Fellow Institute for Global Health Diplomacy, Geneva; Senior WHO Advisor Women, Adolescent Child Health.

Prof. William M Macharia 

Associate Dean, Research 
MBChB MMED, MSc (Clin Epidemiology), Dip (Haem-Oncology)

​Dr Macharia is Professor and Associate Dean for Research and former Founding Chair of Academic Department of Paediatrics and Child Health at Aga Khan University Nairobi. He trained in health research and treatment of cancers and blood diseases at McMaster University, Canada (1989-91). Before joining AKU in 2007, he was Associate Professor in Department of Paediatrics at University of Nairobi and Director of the Clinical Epidemiology Unit, Faculty of Health Sciences. Other past appointments and responsibilities included being member of Board of Trustees of International Clinical Epidemiology Network (INCLEN), Secretary General of Africa chapter (AFRICLEN), member of the World Health Organization WHO/AFRO advisory committee on health research and development and Member of DFID/IDRC/Welcome Trust funded Consortium for National Health Research (CNHR) Expert Scientific Advisory Committee. He chaired the Kenya Technical Working Group on national health research policies and governance strategy for Ministry of Health (2019). He was a member of Advisory Council of Kampala based East Africa Paediatric Haemato-oncology Fellowship training program that trains for EA region (2016- 2019). Dr Macharia is also the Chair of Murang’a County Level 5 Referral Hospital Health Management Board. He has published scientific papers in internationally reputable peer review journals and supervised many theses and dissertations. His current research interest is in health systems and capacity building for Health Research. He continues to be actively involved in teaching of paediatric residents and in treatment of children with cancers and blood diseases.

Dr Michaela Mantel

Senior Advisor and Senior Health Programme Officer, MD, MPH

Dr Michaela Mantel joined the Faculty of Health Science, Aga Khan University (AKU) East Africa in 2012 as Senior Advisor Health Programmes based in Nairobi, Kenya. Her areas of focus are health system strengthening at decentralized levels with focus on reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health. Her specific areas of expertise include; improving access to quality health care services at community and primary health care level and first level of referral hospital care; institutional development; public-private partnership in health systems; human resources capacity building and context relevant research in health. Dr. Mantel joined the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) in 2006 working as the Senior Health Programme Officer at the Aga Khan Foundation in Geneva. She also contributed as advisor to the strategic development of the global AKU Institute of Human Development with focus on programming and research and was member of the task group for the foundation of the Population Health Department at AKU in East Africa. Dr. Mantel began her professional career in the early 1980’s. Her first assignment in developing countries was as a medical officer for five years in a 120-bedded church hospital in rural Tanzania/East Africa. After her return from Tanzania, she completed the Master Degree in Public Health at the Harvard University in Boston and worked as an adviser to national governments in Sub-Saharan Africa, India, South East Asia and Eastern Europe in international and national health programmes and projects funded by key development partners. These included the European Commission, the World Bank, Danida, the German Development Cooperation (KfW and GIZ), and the German Protestant Development Services (EZE). 

Dr. Abdu Mohiddin

Physician Scientist, Assistant Professor

Dr Mohiddin is a public health physician-scientist with interests in public health and health systems, in particular in maternal, child and adolescent health. Most of his work is with the CoE with additional duties in the Department of Population Health contributing to the development of a Population Health Master’s degree. He has over twenty years’ experience with multi-sectoral strategies to address needs and improve health. He has worked with a wide range of stakeholders in the UK and Kenya including local and national health authorities, healthcare and related services, academia, the voluntary sector and communities.

Dr Angela Koech

Physician-Scientist, Assistant Professor OB/GYN
BSc (Anat), MBChB, MSc Epi, MMed Obs/Gyn

Dr Angela Koech Etyang is Assistant Professor at the Department of OB/GYN and co-PI of the PRECISE Porject  at the Centre of Excellence in Women and Child Health, Aga Khan University – Nairobi. She is a medical doctor and holds an MMed (Obstetrics and Gynaecology) degree from the Aga Khan University and an MSc in Epidemiology from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. She has 7 years’ experience in clinical medicine and over 3 years’ experience in clinical research in the area of maternal and newborn health. She has been involved in setting up and conducting several clinical studies alongside a perinatal surveillance program at the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust research programme in Kenya. Her previous work has been in the areas of maternal Group B Streptococcus and its role in neonatal disease, fetal growth and aetiology of preterm birth/low birth weight, preeclampsia and its risk factors and the role of inflammatory markers in preterm pre-labour rupture of membranes. She has publications in peer reviewed journals and has presented in several local and international conferences. 

Dr Ferdinand Okwaro

Social Scientist, Assistant Professor PhD

Dr Ferdinand Okwaro is a Medical Anthropologist with over 10 years of post-doctoral research experience conducting health research in various contexts and fields at Institutional and community level. He obtained his PhD from Heidelberg University in Germany. Prior to joining the Centre of Excellence, he held a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Oslo (Norway), a post-doctoral research fellowship at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and a visiting research fellowship at the University of Cambridge in the UK. Dr. Okwaro’s main expertise is in the design and implementation of health research projects employing a mixed method approach that combines qualitative and quantitative methodologies. He is also experienced in policy analysis and engagement as well as in evaluation of health programs.


​​Dr Adelaide Lusambili

Social Scientist, Assistant Professor MA, MSW-MH, PhD

Dr Adelaide Lusambili joined AKU as a Social Scientist at the Department of ​ Obstetrics/Gynecology – Centre for Excellence in Women and Child Health East Africa. Her work experience spans from being a lecturer and a researcher in an academic sector, within healthcare settings and in the communities in both the UK and Kenya. ​​Adelaide has extensive research experience. She worked for National Health Services/UK in collaboration with Sheffield University, University of Leeds and Bradford teaching hospital on various research themes such as Fuel Poverty, Cold homes and winter admission Illness; ageing and mental health for people affected by stroke and dementia; safeguarding and refugee children’s health. Before joining Aga Khan University, in 2018 Adelaide was a senior research fellow with Kemri-Wellcome Trust and Institute of Health Care Management/Strathmore Business school where she worked on varied healthcare projects including maternal and neonatal mortality audits and road accident research. Adelaide’s early career research was on the gendered impact of environmental sanitation in the slums of Kibera/Kenya. Adelaide has consulted in research methodological design and evidence analysis on a wide range of topics including and not limited to: Breast cancer among Black Women (UK); an Unaccompanied Asylum seeking children mental health outcomes , FGM (UK); LGBT in schools (UK); Continued Medical Education and Cultural Relativity (Datanamics /USA) among others. She has MSW-Mental Health from the University of Sheffield/UK and a PhD in medical anthropology and MA in Sociology: Gender and Development both from American University, Washington DC. Her post-doctoral research fellowship was at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) University of Sussex/UK. Adelaide is a peer reviewer for WHO Bulletin since 2008; Ageing and society Journal and the International Journal of Human Rights in Health Care. She is also a certified member of Health Care Professional Council (HCPC -UK), Royal Anthropological Society, Global Public Health Council and British Sociological Association.

​Bancy Ngatia

Biostatistician, BA Sociology and Economics, MSc Biostatistics

Bancy Ngatia has a background as researcher and projects manager at NGOs such as ICARDA and LIWA. After defending her master thesis in Biostatistics at Hasselt University, she worked as Research Assistant at ICARDA. Here, she conducted analysis work which included building predictive statistical and machine learning models for gap analysis. She also contributed as an author to scientific research articles.She was subsequently employed as Projects and Research Manager at LIWA. Here, she coordinated projects, research and partnerships which included stakeholders in academia, government and the private sector. She also contributed to research report writing and grant proposal writing. Bancy currently works with the Aga Khan University’s Centre of Excellence in Women and Child Health-East Africa as Study Coordinator / Biostatistician.

​​Rachel Odhiambo

Data Manager, BSc, MSc

Rachel Odhiambo is a Data Manager. She has dealt with data for more than 10 years. She started working at KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research as a Data clerk and moved progressively to the Data Management level. She has been a co-author in a number of research journal papers. She has managed data for a number of research studies such as Neonatal tetanus and Jaundice, Neurological Impairment at the Kenya Coast, Association of Malaria and Epilepsy Study, Severe Malaria in African Children a Multi-centre Study, Pentoxyphyline and Fosphenytoin Clinical drug trials, Epidemiology of Epilepsy in Kilifi, Epilepsy Survey in Sub-Sahara Africa multi-centre study, Prevalence of and relationship between acute Seizures and Behavioural Disorders in pre-school children in Kilifi, Child development and Cognitive studies, HIV Neuropsychological Studies in Children and Adolescents and Burden of and the risk factors for Neurodevelopmental Disorders in older children in Kilifi among others.

Grace Mwashigadi, 

Study Coordinator, MPH

Grace is the Study Coordinator at the Centre of Excellence in Women and Child Health at Aga Khan University. She is responsible for technical leadership, coordination, and implementation of studies in maternal health for PRECISE Study. She has 10 years’ experience in clinical research management, qualitative research, quality assurance and stakeholder engagement. She previously worked at KEMRI-Wellcome Trust and ICRHK in HIV/AIDs studies among vulnerable populations. She has Leadership and Management in health training from The Ohio State University and University of Washington. She is a former Queen Elizabeth II Scholar, SANTHE and Mandela Washington Fellow 2016. She holds a master’s in Public Health from Simon Fraser University, Canada. 

Lucy Nyaga

Project Manager

BA Social Studies, Master of Community Health and Development

Lucy Nyaga is a project manager. She is a Community health professional, started her career in Kenya, establishing/strengthening automated Health Management Information System (HMIS) which with the lessons learned was later updated and up-scaled in all the counties HMIS. She has been influential in promoting Early Child Development in Kenya and East Africa through UNICEF-Care for Child Development (CCD) and Science of Early Child Development by Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) and Red River College. A holder of Bachelor of Arts (BA) (Social Studies) and (Master of Community Health and Development) Lucy has played a key role for over 5 years managing European Union (EU) sponsored Maternal Newborn and Child Health (MNCH) project (Phase I and II) working closely with the Ministry of Health in implementing the government health policy of Community Health Strategy. Currently working as a project manager under the leadership of the director Centre of Excellence in Women & Child Health, Aga Khan University East Africa for Mimba Yangu Project

Grace Gathoni

Administrative Officer
BCom Marketing 

Grace Gathoni Wairimu is an Administrative Officer at the Centre of Excellence in Women and Child Health, Aga Khan University, Nairobi. She is a marketer by profession. Grace has worked in different roles across various institutions both private and public, with vast experience in Project Management, Sales and Marketing as well as Administration. She holds a Bachelor of Commerce in Marketing from the University of Nairobi and currently pursuing a Masters in Project Planning and Management at the University of Nairobi.

Irene Kibara

Administrative Manager, AKU Mombasa Research Office
MBA, Strategic Management, CPA (K)

Irene Kibara is the current Administrative Manager of the AKU Mombasa Research Office serving as a focal person for research administration in the Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS) at the Mombasa office having joined in May, 2017. She is fully involved in the day to day general office and projects’ administration in liaison with the AKU Research Office. She is a Certified Public Accountant, CPA (K), Strathmore College alumni and a holder of MBA Strategic Management from Daystar University. With an experience spanning to more than 15 years, she has worked in senior roles in research and implementation projects handling both administrative and financial duties. Previously, she worked for International Centre for Reproductive Health (ICRH) ​for 12 years having risen from an Assistant Accountant to the Director of Finance, Administration and Human Resources.

​Nancy Gichobi

Administrative Assistant
Dip, Public Health 

Nancy has experience in Office Administration, Customer care with a background in Public Health especially in Maternal and Child Health, HIV/AIDS as well as Procurement. Have worked in different organizations for different roles.

Norah M. Matheka

Program Assistant

Norah’s background spans from Business Administration and Management, to Business Communication, Community Development, Management of Information Systems, Health and Safety, Basic First Aid as well as Nutrition. She currently serves as the program assistant in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology in Aga Khan University Hospital, Nairobi for 2 grants D43 and G11. D43 grant is titled Global Infectious Diseases and HPV training in Kenya while G11 is titled Infrastructure Development Training Program for Aga Khan University East Africa. Norah possesses great leadership skills with over 20 years’ experience in the field of administration, business management and accounting. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Management from Daystar University with a cumulative GPA of 3.38/4.00.  Norah received a higher diploma in Institute for the Management of Information Systems (IMIS) from Strathmore College/University. She is technically proficient in Quickbooks, Ms Word, Excel, Access, Power-point, and Internet. Familiar with windows operating system, online database such as drop box, online communication tool such as slack as well as daily task planning tool known as Trello. A patient and great team player with interpersonal and intercultural sensitivity. Her first experience in the area of clinical research was with University of Washington – TREE program in 2012 when she was employed as the program administrator. This position catapulted her to various facets of research administration from adhering to sponsors requirements regarding expenses, observation of study protocol by assisting study monitors when they visit the study as well as exposure to grant proposal submission. Norah volunteered with an organization known as CAREFORCE in the United Kingdom specifically in London with a church, All Souls Church where she assisted with the various programs of the church. Her first professional working experience was with Sisilo Chidcare Centre where she worked as a marketing officer, she then moved to African Inland Mission (AIM). At AIM she worked as payables officer, moved to the position of cashier and subsequently to Accounts Assistant. Thereafter she joined Light of Africa (LoA) as a bookkeeper/ administrator, a position that introduced her to the area of human resources.

Nellah Ndakah

Masters, Global Health

Nellah Ndaka has a Master’s Degree in Public Policy (Global Health) and a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Sciences both from Sciences Po Paris. She currently works as a Research Assistant at Aga Khan University, Nairobi, Kenya.​​