Prior to the new appointment, Ruguda served as Uganda’s Minister of Health and Permanent Representative at the United Nations, from January 2009 until May 2011.
Rugunda was born in Kabale District on 7 November 1947. As a young boy, he would often sit and read the newspapers to his father Surumani Rugunda, and it is these experiences at a tender age that sparked his later interest in politics.
Rugunda attended Kigezi High School and Busoga College Mwiri where he served as Head Prefect, before joining Makerere University Medical School and later the University of Zambia where he studied medicine, graduating with the degree of Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBChB).
He later studied at the University of California, Berkeley and obtained the degree of Master of Science in Public Health (MSc.Pub.Hlth) Before joining Ugandan politics, Rugunda worked as Medical Officer in Zambia, as a physician at DC General Hospital in Washington DC, and at Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi, Kenya.
While attending Makerere University in Uganda, Rugunda, commonly referred to as “Ndugu” (Swahili for “brother”) by friends, served as President of the National Union of Students of Uganda (NUSU), a politically vibrant youth movement. As a young political activist, Rugunda was part of the Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) and was said to be close to President Apollo Milton Obote. Rugunda was one of a few who had been seen by Obote as future leaders of the party and country. In one of the last interviews before his death, Obote lamented as to why the brilliant Rugunda had gotten himself entangled with Yoweri Museveni and the National Resistance Movement.
In 1985 he met with the leaders of the Ugandan National Resistance Movement (NRM) at the inn “Zum grünen Jäger” in Unterolberndorf, for a conspirative conference to elaborate a political programme for the liberated Uganda.
He has formerly held the following positions in the Ugandan Government:
- Minister of Information
- Minister of Internal Affairs
- Minister of Health
- Minister of Foreign Affairs
- Minister of Information and Communication Technology
- Minister of Works, Transport & Communication
- Minister of Water, Lands & the Environment
- Commissioner for Animal Industry, Game and Fisheries
- Chairman of NRM Electoral Commission
- Member of Parliament for Kabale Municipality and
- President of the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP).
In January 2009, he was appointed Uganda’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations. At the same time, the position was elevated to a Cabinet Ministerial level in Uganda.
In the cabinet reshuffle of 27 May 2011, he was reassigned to the Information & Communication Technology Ministry, as full Cabinet Minister.