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OGWENO STEPHEN A TRAILBLAZING GLOBAL HEALTH ADVOCATE WITH A CHALLENGING PAST

Ogweno Stephen 26, is one of the pioneering young global health practitioners who is decorated with multiple awards and has a deep passion for addressing the rising burden of non-communicable diseases. Non-communicable diseases are diseases that do not transfer from one person to the other including diseases like cancer, diabetes, obesity, and hypertension just to mention a few. These diseases are the leading killer diseases in the world and in Kenya, they account for over 55% of hospital admissions. As a global NCD advocate who works with multinational organizations like the World Health Organization, the global NCD Alliance, and the World Obesity, Ogweno Stephen has dedicated his life’s work to reducing the burden on non-communicable diseases.

But why the focus on non-communicable diseases? Ogweno Stephen was born to an average family, and he was born with childhood obesity. Over the years of hard living and surviving in Kisumu City where he was brought up, Ogweno ended up developing other complications that arose from childhood obesity including developing gastrointestinal reflux disorder and oral health challenges. These challenges coupled with the fact that he came from a lower-income family made it hard for him to access relevant health services. Despite these challenges Ogweno Stephen was a high-performing student which saw him pass the Kenya Certificate Primary School Education in 2010 and was admitted at Kanyawanga High School.

In high school, Ogweno narrates his challenges in his sixth book Practical Skills For Entrepreneurial Success where he mentions starting various ventures in high school to ensure he earned his pocket money and was able to survive and thrive. He passed the Kenya Certificate of Secondary school Education in 2014 and was admitted to Kenyatta University to pursue a course in Information Technology. However, between 2014 and 2016, Ogweno lost 3 of his close friends and family to diabetes and stroke which had a huge impact on his mental health and career focus. In 2016 Ogweno decided to shift gears from studying information technology to studying a course in Population Health with the goal of learning about these diseases and going back to his community and educating them on the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases.

In the same year, Ogweno Stephen started his company Stowelink Inc which focused on education, advocacy, and innovation on non-communicable diseases, and implemented his first big project, Project Alpha, which focused on cancer awareness and sensitization. Over the years, Ogweno Stephen rose from a local name in the non-communicable diseases space to a globally recognized professional in the global health space winning multiple awards including being listed as one of the Top 100 Most Influential Leaders in 2020 and Top 35 Under 35 Winner in 2021. Ogweno Stephen has also been invited to make presentations at various local and global conferences often times representing Kenya as its youngest delegate and speaker in most of these events including in 2020 where he spoke at The 5th Commonwealth Nurses And Midwives Conference in the United Kingdom and in 2022 at the World Heart Summit in Geneva.  Ogweno has been recognized by many as the future of global health advocacy and innovation, especially in non-communicable diseases, and has been featured by many agencies including the United Nations, One Young World , and Young African Leadership Initiative just to mention a few.

Currently Ogweno Stephen serves in various local and global committees and organizations including being a committee member at the World Health Organization NCD Labs and NCD Alliance Our Views Our Voices Program. Locally he sits on the national NCD intersectoral coordinating committee, YHP Kenya advisory board just to mention a few. Ogweno Stephen is also an established researcher having published several scientific research papers and even won the World Health Organizations Hideyo Noguchi Scholarship For Young African Researchers. Currently, Ogweno Stephen is on track to completing his Masters’s Programme in Public Health with a specialization on Global Health at the University Of Manchester which he received through the Commonwealth Scholarships. At a time when non-communicable diseases are on the rise and already contribute to over 55% of hospital admissions in Kenya, the country and the region need more young people to create an impact on public health and global health spaces.

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