Deadline: March 29, 2024
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The Pauline Bakibinga Memorial Scholarship was established in September 2022 to honor the memory of Dr. Pauline Bakibinga, former research scientist at the African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC). Pauline was passionate about digital health and its potential to transform health systems on the African continent. Amidst her busy schedule as a full-time researcher, she created time to mentor young women with an interest in improving the health outcomes of other women and children.

Amount and period of award
Each year, between USD 5,000 and 10,000 worth of scholarship funding is awarded to a promising female student who resides in East Africa and is registered at an African University, to assist with research project costs (not tuition) towards a master’s degree program that focuses on digital health. A maximum of USD 10,000 will be awarded each year between 2024 and 2028. Applicants from Mbarara University of Science and Technology and those affiliated with Busoga Health Forum are encouraged to apply.

Eligibility and expectations
To be considered for the Scholarship, applicants must have attained an undergraduate degree and received admission for a master’s degree program focusing on the broad area of public health and research topic that embraces the application of digital health innovations.
Awarding of the Pauline Bakibinga Memorial Scholarship is contingent on several criteria including acceptance to and enrollment in a master’s program, and a completed application. Additionally, applicants are required to submit an essay (not exceeding 500 words) demonstrating their motivation. Scholarship recipients are expected to uphold a high standard of conduct.
Whereas this Scholarship award does not bind the recipient to APHRC or their current employer, and are not under any obligation to repay, it is hoped that once a recipient graduates and is engaged in a productive career, she will help honor the memory of Pauline by giving future students similar higher education opportunities by contributing to similar causes and giving back to the community.

How to apply
The application process has two steps. The first step involves completing a short online survey accessible by clicking here. The second step involves sending as one PDF file, a document containing:

  1. Statement of purpose/motivation essay (1-page max);
  2. Two letters of recommendation (each 1-page max, and one of them must be from an academic supervisor);
  3. Academic certificates; and
  4. Proof of admission into a master’s degree program.

The document is to be sent via email to with the name of the scholarship in the subject line of the email. One must complete the online survey before sending the pdf file as it will be used to determine your eligibility to the program. Deadline for application is March 29, 2024. Incomplete or late applications will not be considered.

Review and award
Your application will be reviewed by members of the Scholarship Committee. Selection will be based on applicant’s commitment to contribute to digital health, overall academic performance, and or prior experience in digital health-related research. Finalists will be invited for an interview and notified of the outcome by email of any scholarship award within a month thereafter.

About Pauline Bakibinga

Pauline joined APHRC in 2013 as a post-doctoral fellow soon after completing her PhD at the University of Bergen. She completed her fellowship and was offered a position as an Associate Research Scientist, a position she held until her demise. At APHRC, Pauline was working on health systems research, where she led various research projects on strengthening health services for communities in poor urban areas. She was a very effective research leader working with local community leaders, healthcare workers and county and sub-county health leaders in running the projects. She had formed networks with partners from across the world that she impressed with her intellect, her dedication, passion, and dependability.

Her research interests over time evolved into the field of digital health – at the intersection between healthcare and digital (especially mobile phone) technology. She was the leader of this research area at APHRC and in May 2022, a few months before her demise, was appointed as the head of the health systems strengthening research unit in recognition of her thought leadership.

The biggest impact of her work was to develop digital tools to support community health workers to identify critically sick newborn babies and new mothers and refer them for care in a timely manner, leading work to develop a policy framework for telehealth in several African countries. As a researcher, she was very successful, publishing more than 40 papers, and raising approximately US $ 7 million – which are all marks of a highly successful researcher. Pauline was in the prime of her research career and society is poorer at this loss. Indeed just 10 days before her death, she was awarded the very first Tumani Corrah Award for Research Excellence in Africa – Tumani Corrah is the founding director of the Africa Research Excellence Fund

Pauline was an extraordinary mentor – whether it was with the young and upcoming researchers she worked with at APHRC or with young and upcoming scientists from her various networks – specifically at Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST), Uganda, her Alma Mater. Indeed, if one looked carefully at her published academic papers, one can clearly see how vast and how deep her networks were and how she maintained strong ties with people she had met at various stages of her career.

Though she was reserved and shy at times, we remember Pauline for her bubbly personality. She had lots of energy, was quick to volunteer and take on responsibilities. She was very witty and had a genuine heartwarming laugh. The last memory most of us have of her is during a staff meeting which we had on Zoom on July 18, where she was bantering with colleagues and making all of us laugh. She was also very organized and an early riser – often being in the office by 6.00 AM and leaving at lunchtime.

Pauline was a fashionista, she loved colorful African print outfits, always perfectly matched with accessories.

Pauline was a woman of faith – she was an active member in Christ the King choir in Kampala – even though she was based in Nairobi – she worked with Nsambya hospital on their various projects even when she was terribly busy with her work at the Center. She was never too busy to support church projects. She was an active member of the Catholic community at APHRC and was involved in organizing mass for staff which was celebrated at the office once a week. Pauline donated some of the vestments for use during mass and never failed to participate in the preparation for the mass – or the mass itself whenever she was in town.

In Pauline we lost a colleague, a fearless African woman, an outstanding scientist, and an extraordinary mentor. We lost a friend and a member of the APHRC family. The shock and suddenness of her death left her family, friends and colleagues devastated with many unanswered questions.

We continue to hold her family in prayer and pledge to contribute to upholding her legacy through this scholarship program.

May Pauline continue resting in peace.