Farewell to Flora Kessy

It is with indescribable sadness that we learned about the passing of Prof. Dr. Flora Kessy, Director of the Tanzanian Training Centre for International Health (TTCIH). We have lost a smart, farsighted, witty and sensitive colleague, friend and long-standing partner of Swiss TPH and R. Geigy Foundation. Our deepest condolences go to Flora’s family, friends and colleagues at the TTCIH and Ifakara.

Flora Kessy has moved mountains in her long and distinguished career to improve access to healthcare and the livelihood of women and communities across Tanzania. Her work has impacted on development, health and social justice in Ifakara, the Kilombero valley, Tanzania, and Africa.

Flora Lucas Kessy was born in Moshi (Kilimanjaro) on the 25thof June 1964, and has passed away on 28 May 2020 in Ifakara. She was an Associate Professor in Social Policy and Development at Mzumbe University, and Executive Director of the TTCIH in Ifakara, Tanzania. She held a PhD in Agricultural and Consumer Economics with a Major in Household and Consumer Economics and a Minor in Women and Gender in Global Perspective from University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, USA. She has researched and published on topics such as access to health care, health and HIV/AIDS financing, health governance, social protection, health and livelihood resilience, gender and community participation in development through community governance structures. Flora has worked and partnered with numerous Tanzanian and international organisations such as the Ifakara Health Institute, the Ministry of Health in Tanzania, the World Bank, USAID, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, UNFPA, UNICEF and Swiss TPH.

Her involvement with the joint IHI-Swiss TPH project supported by the Novartis Foundation for Sustainable Development on access to improved quality medical care (ACCESS, ISAQ and e-TIQH) brought not only strong leadership and professional skills to the project, but also a spirit of collaboration with all partners in governement and in the civil society. Nobody ever doubted her competence and integrity at any level and in any forum. So these projects were able to get significant traction with communities and authorities, for the benefit of people in the Kilombero Valley and beyond. Even after these projects ended, she continued her collaboration with Swiss TPH through her pioneering engagement at the intersection of gender, health and livelihood, acting as Chairperson of the NGO Kilombero Health and Livelihood Promotion (KV-HELP), with support from the R. Geigy Foundation.

As the Executive Director of the TTCIH in Ifakara, she picked up an organization at a critical moment of its existence. Without her, many new courses and projects would not have seen the light . There is no doubt that TTCIH would not be the thriving institution it is at present without her strong and enlightened leadership. The latest common project between Swiss TPH and TTCIH was the construction of a new teaching hall for up to 100 students in Ifakara. The beautiful and practical design of this lecture hall is befitting her Directorship, and we will make sure the hall bears her name. This will be a daily reminder for the following generations of students and staff alike of the value of their former Director.

We will remember Flora as a smart, humorous and truly outstanding human being. Her legacy will remain and live on long beyond her passing. We are grateful to have known Flora and will always keep her in our fondest memory.

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