Current Leader

Rosemary Nabaweesi

Rosemary Nabaweesi
Location: Little Rock, Arkansas Cohort Start Year: 2020 Project Topics: Early Childhood, Health Care Access, Maternal and Infant Health, Public, Population and Community Health, Racial Justice, Violence and Trauma Populations Served: African-American/Black, Children and Families, Low-Income Communities, Rural Communities, Young Children (0-5 years)
Associate Professor in Health Policy
Meharry Medical College

Dr. Nabaweesi, a Ugandan physician, conducts childhood injuries and infant mortality disparities research. Her research began 10 years ago when she noticed Black children presenting to the ER following traumatic injuries were more likely to experience preventable complications including death than their white counterparts. Her quality improvement research work expanded to include injury prevention in urban and rural communities. Seventy-five percent of Chicot County’s population (55% Black) is employed, 70% live above the federal poverty level, 84.5% have health insurance, there are no labor and delivery services at the county hospital, and 60.7% have broadband internet.

Dr. Nabaweesi uses community engagement research and implementation science to address infant mortality health disparities in the Southern Mississippi Delta of Arkansas. She co-developed a culturally-tailored infant safe sleep intervention; pilot tested it in two counties, and illuminated structural barriers facing Black families and their communities. The cross-cutting barriers including healthcare provider scarcity, lack of health insurance and employment opportunities, low-quality schools and recreational facilities, air and water pollution present Black newborns with a suboptimal start in life. Such that when faced with environmental challenges or injuries, Black children typically do not have the immunity reserve to return to full health.

Dr. Nabaweesi will mobilize her communities to educate themselves and advocate for local and state policies that can prioritize and support healthy lifestyles including readily accessible produce, readily accessible healthcare, transportation, access to clean air and water. Co-creation with community leaders to advocate for state and federal policies that incentivize business owners to invest in Delta communities will potentially begin to address the longstanding racialized policies’ impacts.

Dr. Nabaweesi uses culturally-centered approaches, promoting community agency and knowledge for transforming inequitable conditions. Her work builds on community strengths and resources, facilitating collaborative equitable partnerships in all research phases, power-sharing processes that attend to social inequities and promotes co-learning and capacity-building among all partners.


As a health services researcher and an evaluator who centers community and uses an equity lens, Dr. Nabaweesi brings her curiosity, appetite for learning new cultures and creative spirit. She understands that in order to leave meaningful impact for the people she serves; she must bring an empathic perspective to her work, aspiring beyond ordinary equity and towards an expansive liberator stance. In order to create cultures of health, Dr. Nabaweesi needs to engage her communities from the initiation of intervention development through implementation while valuing community partners’ expertise, experience and their humanity. This work is not a researcher only or community only endeavor but requires multiple stakeholders working collaboratively and learning from each other. To tackle immutable barriers successfully, Dr. Nabaweesi understands the need to build trust across disciplines and industries, not necessarily supported by traditional grants, let alone academic settings whose success measures include timelines and scientific productivity.





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