WelTel Team Members:
Dr. Richard Lester, MD, FRCPC (Kenya, Canada)
Dr. Lester founded WelTel and is the primary investigator on the clinical trials evaluating the SMS protocol in subjects taking HAART (Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy). He is an infectious diseases physician from Canada who joined Dr. Frank Plummer’s group at the University of Manitoba/University of Nairobi in 2004 in their quest for an HIV vaccine. He has been living with his family in Kenya since 2005. Initially as an AMMI/CIHR/Bristol-Meyers-Squibb research fellow, he focused on innate immune susceptibility and resistance to HIV infection; work that is ongoing. However, shortly after arrival in Kenya he, like most visitors, picked up on the extensive use of mobile phones in the region. Along with his Kenyan colleagues, they came up with a plan to integrate the regional telecommunications technology boom into the care of patients with HIV. He is currently splitting his time between the University of British Columbia (UBC) and BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) in Vancouver and WelTel in Kenya, but will continue to lead and support this project in Kenya as a global health initiative.
Health Communication, Advocacy and Policy Advisor
Bonface joined the WelTel team in June 2009. He holds a BA in Communication from Daystar University.Prior to this, Bonface worked with the World Social Forum Secretariat as a Media Coordinator and UNICEF Kenya as an Assistant Communication Officer in Health Projects.
Bella works with growing healthcare organisations to develop and implement their strategic plans. She developed WelTel’s business plan for scaling up as a Master’s thesis. Bella completed her Masters in Business Administration at Simon Fraser University and Bachelor’s in Occupational Therapy at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. Bella has a background working with start-up non-profit and private health clinics and developing public health promotion programs in Canada and developing countries. Before working with the WelTel team, Bella was the executive director of the Shanti Uganda Society, an NGO focused on women’s health and community development in Uganda.
Sarah Karanja, BA (Kenya)
Sarah joined WelTel in May 2007. She is currently pursuing an MA in Medical Sociology at University of Nairobi and holds a BA in Sociology from the same university. Prior to joining Weltel, Sarah worked with KEMRI as a Site Coordinator in the HIV incidence study in Nandi and the Efficacy of Iron Fortified flour trial in Malindi.
Ricky Kitsao, (Kenya)
Ricky has worked in the I.T. field for close to 10 years and has wide-ranging experience in system development, database design and programming. He is currently working to develop sms-based solutions for various projects that WelTel is undertaking. He holds a degree in Computer Science from the University of Nairobi.
Gabrielle has been involved with WelTel since its inception. Together, Richard and Gabby have lived in Kenya with their children for many years. When in Canada, Gabby has taken on the role of fundraising for WelTel in the Canadian philanthropic community. Gabrielle has extensive experience in fundraising, and was one of the first employees of Wolanani in South Africa, an NGO that focused on improving the quality of life for people living with HIV and AIDS. Gabby has a health background and has lived and worked in several African countries for over ten years. She has also operated a private Chiropractic practice in the various places that she has called home.