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February 10, 2020

A Conversation with Deus Bazira

On Tuesday February 11, 2020, Dr. Deus Bazira, DrPH, MPH, MBA, BPharm, joined the School of Foreign Service’s ‘Conversations in Global Health’ class to discuss his experiences in the field of global health. Born in Uganda, Dr. Bazira guided the class through the academic and professional journey that led him to South Africa, Maryland, and ultimately Washington D.C. With a strong passion for learning, Dr. Bazira developed an interdisciplinary lens of law, public policy, business, and diplomacy with which to tackle his ultimate objective: strengthening health systems in emerging economies at both the policy and practice level. Through this lens, Dr. Bazira has been able to analyze global health systems and determine several ways by which they can be made more efficient for maximum humanitarian benefit. 

During our discussion, Dr. Bazira discussed the issues surrounding integrating the private sector into public health initiatives. Public-private partnerships, according to Dr. Bazira, are essential for the delivery of health services in developing countries. However, the profit motive of many pharmaceutical and private healthcare industries frequently creates obstacles for low-income communities’ access to health services. In his paper “Leveraging the Private Health Sector to Enhance HIV Service Delivery in Lower-Income Countries,” Dr. Bazira emphasizes the need for enabling policy, market incentives, and regulations that will allow the commercial sector to work cohesively with the public sector in order to optimize service provision in public health initiatives. He suggests that without meeting these criteria, universal health coverage — or “health for all” — are unrealistic goals. 

Dr. Bazira explained that the key to understanding Global Health is familiarizing oneself with the ins and outs of health systems. He passionately advocates for exploration through education; in order to truly understand the intricacies of the intersection between business, diplomacy, and healthcare, one has to be conversant in and knowledgeable about each field. Dr. Bazira gave several anecdotes about his experiences as a pharmaceutical expert working to advance health policy. He recalled realizing that in order to create change, he needed to gain academic expertise in business, specifically in management strategy. By employing the interdisciplinary lens that he had spent his career developing, Dr. Bazira was able to work with Ministers of Health, the World Bank, and pharmaceutical companies to create cohesive, collaborative plans for strengthening health systems across Africa. 

As a PreMed STIA major concentrating in Global Health and Biotechnology, Dr. Bazira instilled in me a curiosity for how to combine my interests in private medical practice with my broader aspirations of working towards health equity. I am inspired to discover how my education in Foreign Service and Medicine can help me contribute to this objective. I look forward to building off of Dr. Bazira’s insight in order to become the most effective patient advocate and promoter of health equity that I can be. 

Syona Hariharan (SFS ’22) is an undergraduate on the PreMed track studying Science, Technology, and International Affairs in Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service. She is concentrating in Global Health and Biotechnology and minoring in Spanish.