Profile of FOCHTA Co-Founder Dr Leopold Buhendwa

Dr Leopold is one of the three co-founders of FOCHTA that was established in early 2003. Born in 1963, Dr Leo studied medicine in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and after graduation was employed by MSF Belgium. He was then dispatched on his first assignment to work deep in the equatorial forest of the DRC where he was tasked to organise a health system for the population of whom the majority were the pygmy population. This involved setting up a medical and health system, establishing clinics and training nurses. For although there were over a million people living in the jungle, there was an absence of any medical facilities with not a single trained nurse and only two medical doctors. The physical condition was so harsh that the government literally abandoned the area. There in the jungle he worked for five years.

Later, Dr Leo became the Assistant to the Country Director of MSF Belgium in Kinshasa, the capital of the DRC. His job was, among others, to re-organize the country’s medical system. This was necessary as a result of the nationwide looting of Congolese health facilities in 1992.  In 1994, Dr Leo participated in the humanitarian action in Goma, caused by the genocide in Rwanda. It was after this period, that Dr Leo obtained a scholarship to study a Masters degree in Public Health in Belgium. From 1996 Dr Leo served as a surgeon in Rwanda for two years which was possibly the most harrowing experience for him, when he had to not only perform surgeries, but to deal with the terrific realities of the post-genocide era. 

Dr Leo has in total worked for MSF for more than 18 years. This included the time working in DRC, Chad, Mozambique, Swaziland, Lesotho and Malawi. And it was in 2003 while working in Malawi that he became friends with Claude Ho and a Malawian Steven Labana, the latter an MSF Belgium staff member. Steven is currently the Chairman of FOCHTA’s Board of Trustees with Claude as its Patron.

Dr Leo left MSF in 2008, and after working for some other NGOs, he is now the Country Director of GOAL Niger. Despite Dr Leo’s always busy schedule, he continued to be the permanent Board Member and Technical Advisor to FOCHTA. Dr Leo is married, with four children. His three elder children have all graduated, while his youngest childis is following in his father’s footsteps and studying medicine. 


Posted on: Wednesday, 11 September 2019 at: 8:59 am
Filed under: Malawi news