The eldest of 6 siblings, a prefect in all her schools, the first woman President of the Ugandan Medical Association, the first African woman President of the World Medical Association and first African women President-Elect of the International Association Medical Regulatory Authorities (IAMRA). Margaret was a renowned Rotarian and rose in rank to become the first woman Rotary Country Chair in Uganda leading 70 Rotary Clubs. Her unfulfilled ambition was to be Uganda’s first Forensic Psychiatrist.
In the aftermath of brutal civil wars Margaret initiated the charity Hope After Rape to support girls and women who had fallen victim to the atrocities of rampaging fighters. This unending insecurity wreaked havoc on the state of people’s mental health during the 1980s and 1990s, anxiety, depression, post traumatic stress disorder and so on. With limited health provision generally the impact on community wellbeing was catastrophic.
Extremist and curious phenomena emerged, brutal battles erupted steeped in warped interpretations of religious belief, hostile to liberty. There was the fierce warring priestess Alice Lakwena and her Holy Spirit Movement: the war-lord Joseph Kony with his gun toting trigger happy Lords Resistance Army. They attacked villages at night, killing, raping, maiming and through kidnap forcefully recruited children to their cause. Then there was the murder of thousands by Joseph Kibwetere and his cult Movement for The Restoration of the Ten Commandments. The insurrections ravaged the mental health of thousands, who then presented at under resourced mental health services. As one of the very few psychiatrists in the country at the time, Margaret kept her staff inspired and motivated to continue running a basic service. What particularly distinguished Margaret was the complexity and precariousness of situations within which she led other people.
At the height of her achievements, having taken early retirement, her sights set on the IAMRA presidency, she was diagnosed with cancer. Despite her strong beliefs and incessant campaigning for universal health access, unbeknown to her she had run out of time to shape the cultural change required. In her hour of need Margaret was compelled to turn to health tourism in India for cancer treatment. Her commitment, determination and resolve came through right to the end of her fight for life.
This was an ordinary woman who broke the mould, excelled at leading the vulnerable and the mighty in challenging environments with minimum resources