Behind the Scenes
Upgrade for Africa’s story began when founders Drs. Asa Oxner and Andrew Myers traveled to Africa in 2010 to train under South African physicians. Both passionate about global health, they continued their medical mission trips over the years. In 2014, Drs. Oxner and Myers rushed to Sierra Leone, where they stayed for over a year as volunteers in the Ebola treatment units. During this time, the Ebola epidemic was ravaging Western Africa, resulting in a tragic number of deaths and massive socioeconomic distress in the region. Furthermore, Africa saw a 50% reduction in the number of doctors during the Ebola epidemic — leaving only about 150 doctors for Sierra Leone’s population of six million. This physician shortage inspired Drs. Oxner and Myers to begin Upgrade for Africa, a nonprofit organization dedicated to sustainable progress in the developing world. Upgrade for Africa's human development initiative includes increasing access to medical education, delivering hands-on training to healthcare providers, and providing medical care through health clinics.
UPGRADE FOR AFRICA VISION
Upgrade for Africa’s vision is to sustainably increase the capacity for healthcare delivery in Africa by providing medical education to bright, talented residents through funding and mentorship.
WAYS WE HELP
Upgrade for Africa provides funding for Sierra Leoneans to attend medical school in Uganda, where schools have strong reputations. Students who are selected for scholarship are dedicated to helping their communities by becoming certified medical professionals and returning to practice in Sierra Leone. Chosen students are involved in extensive volunteer work and humanitarian efforts.
Upgrade for Africa is also dedicated to sustainably improving Sierra Leone's healthcare system performance through Health Systems Strengthening. This is accomplished by enabling a health workforce, improving quality of care, mobilizing resources, and participating in the reciprocal exchange of information. To tackle these goals, Upgrade for Africa is involved in training, education, and practice.
Our physicians and educators are actively involved in training and collaborating with health care providers in Africa to improve the treatment and prevention of disease, conduct scientific research, and develop preparedness plans for outbreaks and epidemics.
Bright and dedicated students are offered scholarships to attend medical school in Uganda. These students have demonstrated commitment to their communities through volunteer work. We are always striving to increase financial resources available to enthusiastic students and invite you to lend your support.
HUMAN RESOURCES FOR HEALTH
Upgrade for Africa aims to increase the capacity for human resources and healthcare delivery across Africa. We work alongside local doctors to train healthcare professionals through continuous training and patient interaction. We currently work in multiple African countries such as Sierra Leone, Uganda, Ghana, and Senegal.
“Based on the skills and knowledge acquired from Dr. Andy and Dr. Asa, I am able to help HIV, TB, Malaria and NCD patients and pregnant women. My goal is to build a hospital that can help all people in my community and country so even the least priviledged people can access free, and good quality, healthcare services.”
John Martin Sesay, Medical Student
Our dedicated team of experienced professionals are always on the ball, utilizing their unique skills and passion to move the work of our Non-Profit Organization forward. We’re always pushing ourselves to stay ahead of the curve and striving to perfect our programs. Meet some of our incredible leaders below.
DR. ASA OXNER
Dr. Asa Oxner is the vice chair of internal medicine and an associate professor at the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine, where she also received her MD. Dr. Oxner has an interest in global health and has dedicated much of her career to volunteer work abroad. She has designed and implemented protocols for malaria, measles, HIV, TB, burns, and malnutrition. Additionally, Dr. Oxner's passion for working with under-served populations has inspired her work in training more resourceful and empathetic doctors.
DR. ANDY MYERS
Dr. Andy Myers is an assistant professor in the internal medicine department of the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine. He is also the head of inpatient COVID-19 care at Tampa General Hospital. Dr. Myers is devoted to offering humanitarian aid and improving health outcomes at home and abroad.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
DR. JOHN SINNOTT
Dr. John T. Sinnott is a physician, scientist, and business executive who serves as the Chair of Internal Medicine at the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine. He also serves as the director of the Florida Infectious Disease Institute. In the past, Dr. Sinnott has held numerous leadership and consultant positions, including serving as a senior advisor to former Florida Governor Jeb Bush on bio defense. Dedicated to improving global health, Dr. Sinnott helped start USF Medicine International and played a critical role in establishing the Sister Cities Agreement between Tampa, FL and Lanzhou, China. Inspired by a deep interest in global health, Dr. Sinnott is responsible for forging several training programs with countries such as India, China, Thailand, Colombia, and Panama. Under his tenure, USF has been at the forefront of biodefense and initiatives in response to emerging infectious diseases.
DR. LUCY GUERRA
Dr. Lucy Guerra is a professor and director of the Division of General Internal Medicine at the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine. Dr. Guerra also serves as the Medical Director of the TGH Specialty Clinic at Health Park and the Tampa Bay Crisis Center. During the current COVID-19 pandemic, as a member of the USF Health COVID-19 Response Team, Dr. Guerra co-created a model to treat COVID-confirmed patients virtually and in-person to lessen the burden on local hospitals. She is an avid volunteer with the Tampa Bay Street Medicine and the USF Bridge Clinic, advising and supervising medical students and residents providing clinical care to under-served and homeless populations. Dr. Guerra received her medical degree from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, after which she completed her internal medicine internship and residency at Weill Cornell-Columbia Presbyterian Hospitals and the University of Wisconsin, respectively.
DR. LYNETTE MENEZES
Dr. Lynette Menezes is the Assistant Vice President of International Affairs, USF Health and the Assistant Dean of USF Medicine International at the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine. She also serves as an Associate Professor of Medicine in the Division of Infectious Disease and International Medicine. Dr. Menezes oversees affiliations with more than 90 institutions building and supporting global health programs, study abroad and student exchange in 38 countries including Colombia, China, Ghana, India, Panama, Peru, Thailand, and Uganda. As the founding director and now assistant Dean of USF Medicine International she has been instrumental in establishing affiliations with more than 50 institutions across the globe. She has extensive experience building the capacity of physicians, health care providers and public health professionals in India, China, Thailand and Uganda. Locally, she volunteers as a faculty advisor for Tampa Bay Street Medicine that provides preventive and clinical services to the homeless. Most recently, she co-founded the refugee clinic at USF Health that serves refugees in the Tampa Bay area with no access to health care. She loves reading, travel, hiking and volunteering with Tampa Bay Street Medicine.
Get in touch with Upgrade for Africa to learn more about our work and how you can get involved.
Upgrde for Africa Inc. is a 501c3 charity organization EIN 84-3513212