Weill Bugando Medical Centre

Bugando Medical Center Logo

The Weill Bugando Medical College in Mwanza, Tanzania opened in September 2004 and has been affiliated with Cornell University in New York since its inception. The college offers an MD training program, and a Masters in Medicine in Adult Medicine, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Pediatrics and Surgery, and graduate degrees in basic sciences. Weill Bugando’s main teaching hospital is the Bugando Medical Centre, a 900 bed tertiary referral hospital for the people of the Lake and Western regions of Tanzania.

The goal of the Weill Cornell program in Tanzania is to support research, medical education, and clinical services in the city of Mwanza, Tanzania. Research is conducted in collaboration with the National Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), an internationally recognized center conducting epidemiologic studies and clinical trials on HIV, sexually transmitted infections, schistosomiasis, and chronic diseases. Cornell-NIMR research training focuses on interactions between HIV and schistosomiasis and on chronic diseases. Medical education and clinical services are provided with the Weill Bugando Medical College and teaching hospital. The medical college has collaborated with Cornell since its inception in 2006 and graduated its first students in 2010.

Weill Bugando Medical College is Tanzania’s only medical school in western Tanzania. The medical college was opened in 2003 and is located on a 52 acre campus on Bugando Hill in the city of Mwanza. The college was renamed in 2007 in honor of benefactors Joan and Sanford Weill, becoming the Weill Bugando Medical College, which now provides training for almost 400 medical students and 50 students in four Master of Medicine post-graduate programs (internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, surgery, pediatrics). The medical college has 60,000 square feet of teaching space including 2 large auditoriums, 12 classrooms, an anatomy dissection theatre, a teaching laboratory, faculty offices, and administrative space.  Weill Bugando has a medical library that is approximately 5,000 square feet.  The library currently has approximately 6,000 medical textbooks and 12 computer terminals with internet access. Weill Bugando also has access to over 7000 journals and PubMed via the World Health Organization’s HINARI program. Weill Bugando has living quarters and accommodations for faculty, residents, and students. There are 42 apartments on campus for senior faculty (12 three-bedroom, 24 two-bedroom, and 8 one-bedroom).

The Bugando Hospital is the consultant and teaching hospital for the western zones of the United Republic of Tanzania. Situated along the shores of Lake Victoria in Mwanza City, it is a 900-bed referral hospital that oversees medical care for approximately 15 million people living in the zone.  It is a referral centre for tertiary specialist care for six regions, including Mwanza, Mara, Kagera, Shinyanga, Tabora, and Kigoma. The hospital and its on-campus clinics receive over 250,000 patient visits per year, with over 43,000 admissions per year.  Additionally, Bugando has a very active outpatient HIV clinic that is the referral clinic for the entire Lake Zone.

Bugando has eight buildings (A-H) interconnected with covered walkways. The main building is 11 stories; the first floor is dedicated to out-patient clinics. The second floor is administrative offices. The upper floors house patient wards with 900 beds. The basement houses 6 operating theatres.

A 14,000 square foot clinical laboratory was recently renovated and relocated to a large wing of the hospital with support of the Abbott Fund, which has also renovated and improved several other critical laboratories in rural hospitals the Lake Zone region. The Abbott Fund also continues to support scholarships for Bugando’s laboratory technician students, assuring a supply of talented laboratory technicians to staff the Bugando and rural laboratories. The 24-hour/day hospital laboratory has sections for hematology, chemistry, serology, blood transfusion, parasitology, and microbiology. It houses the national tuberculosis laboratory for the region, and has capacity to perform multidrug resistant tuberculosis sensitivity testing. The laboratory has standard operating procedures for all assays and adheres to good clinical and laboratory practices.

Site Director: 

Dr. Robert Peck, Associate Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics, Weill Cornell Medicine and Bugando Medical Center

Dr. Peck is a clinical epidemiologist, and his research is focused on the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases in low-income countries including hypertension and cardiovascular disease (CVD). After completing his combined medicine-pediatrics residency at the Massachusetts General Hospital, he was recruited as a Global Health Fellow at Weill Cornell Medicine (WCM) to work full-time in Mwanza, Tanzania at the newly established Weill Bugando School of Medicine at Bugando Hospital. He was one of only 5 physicians in the Departments of Medicine and Pediatrics. His early years of working full-time on the wards of Bugando taught him about the rapidly rising epidemic of hypertension-related disease in East Africa. Inspired to combat this epidemic of hypertension-related disease through collaborative research, he completed an MS in Epidemiology in 2015 and a PhD in Clinical Epidemiology in 2019.

Dr. Peck has been living and working in Tanzania since 2007. In addition to his work as a physician and medical educator with Weill Bugando School of Medicine, he also developed partnerships with both the Mwanza Interventions Trial Unit (MITU) and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM). These partnerships provide him with a unique environment to study chronic diseases in the context of Africa while also combating healthcare disparities in partnership with the Tanzanian Ministry of Health.

Site Mentors:

Dr. Jennifer Downs, Associate Professor Medicine, Microbiology and Immunology, Weill Cornell Medicine and Bugando Medical Center

Dr. Downs is a physician-scientist trained in Infectious Diseases and Parasitology and she has conducted research at the Weill Bugando School of Medicine in Mwanza, Tanzania since 2008. She has gained fluency in Kiswahili, obtained a Tanzanian medical license, and built collaborations with a team of Tanzanian research scientists. The major focus of her research has been determining the relationship between schistosome infection and mucosal immunity in rural communities in Tanzania.

Dr. Downs also conducts community-based implementation studies to promote public health behavior in rural Tanzanian communities. In addition, she trains and mentors students interested in global health careers including undergraduate and graduate students, medical students, post-doctoral fellows, and junior faculty in both New York and Tanzania.

Dr. Hyasinta Jaka, Senior Lecturer in Medicine, Bugando Medical Center

Dr. Jaka is a senior lecturer and practicing physician at the Catholic University of Health and Allied Sciences/Bugando Medical Centre (CUHAS/BMC) in Mwanza, Tanzania. Her research focus is in gastroenterological and hepatological infectious diseases and in gastrointestinal malignancies, and her PhD was focused on the persistence of Helicobacter pylori infection and antibiotic resistance rates in Mwanza and demonstrated the high rate of antibiotic resistance to standard triple therapy and the need for quadruple therapy and test of cure. Dr. Jaka has also conducted studies on Schistosoma mansoni infection, as there is an urgent need for better prevention and treatment.

Dr. Humphrey Mazigo, Senior Lecturer and Head of the Department of Parasitology, Catholic University of Health and Allied Sciences and Bugando Medical Center

Dr. Mazigo is a Tanzanian research scientist whose career is focused on improving the health of rural populations who lack access to the public health system and are highly affected by neglected tropical diseases. Together with his research group, he provides the epidemiological evidence for intervention programmes against these diseases to stakeholders including the World Health Organization and Ministry of Health in Tanzania. His research particularly focuses on the epidemiology, immunology and morbidity of schistosomiasis, which affects 50% of the population in Tanzania. He has studied the effects of age and sex on schistosome infections in children and adults living in fishing villages, where Schistosoma mansoni infection is highly endemic. He has been actively involved in the Tanzanian National Neglected Tropical Diseases Control Program in designing strategies for involving the adult population in Mass Drug Administration against schistosomiasis and soil-transmitted helminths.