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Book on Universal Health Coverage in Uganda Launched: President Uhuru Engaging Mak Researchers on Kenya’s Plans

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She was astonished to have her child admitted in a room with about 5 others, all with respiratory complications requiring urgent interventions like a nebulizer; a device that delivers drugs in the form of mist inhaled into the lungs, and oxygen.

However, Dr. Suzanne Kiwanuka; a Senior Lecturer at the School of Public Health, Makerere University (MakSPH), was shocked when some of the parents opted to go home with their children in such conditions. Thinking she was missing something, an alarmed Dr. Kiwanuka inquired as to why anyone would want to get their child discharged in that state. She was even more shocked by the uniform response; the parents claimed they would rather go and do their best to manage the situation at home because healthcare at this facility was expensive and they could not afford it.

The parents were so desperate to avoid the costly healthcare that a decision, akin to surrendering the lives of their children to fate; something that is extremely difficult for any parent, came quite easily to this particular lot. Clearly, the current cost of healthcare in the country causes parents like these to make hard choices because the country does not have a universal system to cater for citizens’ needs.

Dr. Kiwanuka was relating this painful experience to an audience that had gathered at the launch of a book she had co-authored titled, UNIVERSAL HEALTH COVERAGE IN UGANDA: Looking Back and Forward to Speed Up the Progress, held on 3rd May 2018 at the Kampala Serena Hotel. The aforementioned experience inspired 3 years’ work that Dr. Kiwanuka and a team of nearly 30 people from different sectors, put in to producing this book which was also edited by Assoc. Prof. Freddie Ssengooba; who led the team, Prof. Elizeus Rutebemberwa and Dr. Elizabeth Ekirapa-Kiracho. All the editors are members of staff at MakSPH.

The book does not only concentrate on curative health care but also explores preventive health care options. It is localised to Uganda and thus offers solutions to how issues like financing can be dealt with in the face of tight budgets and competing demands.

Seated: Hon. Sarah Opendi (R) and Mr. Thomas Tiedemann (L) exchange copies of the book as R-L: Dr. Elizabeth Ekirapa-Kiracho, Prof. William Bazeyo, Prof. Charles Ibingira, Dr. Esther Byakika, Assoc. Prof Freddie Sengooba and Prof. Christopher Garimoi Orach witness.

The book writing was coordinated by MakSPH’s SPEED (Supporting Policy Engagement for Evidence-based Decision) Project with the main intention of capturing the status of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) readiness. The captured evidence past including the challenges and successes regarding the health sector over the last 10 to 15 years can be used to support health policy and systems developments for UHC agenda in Uganda and beyond.

The Team Leader speaks out about the genesis of this achievement

Relating the origin of this achievement to an expectant audience, Assoc. Prof. Ssengooba said he came across a call by the European Union to support Schools of Public Health to put up policies for their countries. It was quite late to apply; about 4 weeks to the deadline.

“I told colleagues that this looked like something we could get and I urged them to put in effort,” he added. “We were happy to emerge successful together with partners like the National Planning Authority, Uganda National Health Consumers Organisation and the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Europe.”

About the book which is a policy document, Assoc. Prof. Ssengooba noted that policy analysis is quite complicated because it requires working from where other scientists stopped and walking the delicate bridge of moving the science to the politicians and policy-makers. He added that the book has been a learning process for the whole team as they brainstormed on how they could expand coverage with the limited resources available.

“In Uganda, we’re expected to do miracles because unlike the US where a single person’s health budget is $7,000, here it is $11. So we decided that this new mission requires local thinking about ideas that can be put into practice. The book customizes lessons; not just best practice, but also how to fit into our own context,” he explained.

On behalf of his team, Assoc. Prof. Ssengooba thanked the Ministry of Health for documenting their practice over the last couple of years because this gave them a starting point in their work. He thanked the European Union (EU) for the 3 years generously apportioned to reflect and produce a good policy document. The EU Ambassador to Uganda was represented at the event by the Acting Head of Cooperation, Thomas Tiedemann.

Hon. Sarah Opendi and Mr. Thomas Tiedemann pose with some of the 30 authors of the UHC Book

President Uhuru is consulting with MakSPH over policy recommendations in the book

Assoc. Prof. Ssengooba also made an astounding revelation to the audience when he shared that part of his team had already been to Kenya to give technical support to President Uhuru Kenyatta in his quest to implement Universal Health Coverage for his country. This move stems from his campaign manifesto which highlighted “The Big Four”; an outline of four areas that he would focus on during his presidency, UHC being one of them.

“As you can see, this work is already being asked for, which is a way of saying that there is need for UHC research in the region. In seeking to implement his manifesto about UHC, President Kenyatta contacted the World Health Organisation and WHO directed him to us saying there are some people who are already doing this. We have been to Kenya at President Uhuru’s invitation and met an assembled pane of experts but we are still going back,” Assoc. Prof. Ssengooba said.

Speaking on behalf of the MakSPH Dean, Prof. Garimoi Orach expressed pride at the work done by Assoc. Prof. Ssengooba and his team as fellow members of staff.

“We pledge that we shall continue to support the Ministry of Health and we are grateful to the EU for this grant and to all institutions that supported this work,” Prof Orach said, before adding “We are also excited that the book is receiving attention in neighbouring countries. We are very proud indeed because this demonstrates that Makerere University is the institution to do business with.”

Uganda stands out among the countries that applied for EU funding

In his remarks, Mr. Thomas Tiedemann commended the team that put together this book and revealed that Uganda stands out among all the countries with Schools of Public Health that applied for funding to develop UHC policies. He congratulated MakSPH upon this achievement and thanked the SPEED project for the great work done in coordinating the writing. The UHC agenda is not only tailored to Uganda but to other developing countries aiming at attaining universal health coverage as well.

“It pains to hear of things like unavailability of high quality cancer treatment. The book launched today is calling upon government to invest more both in curative and preventive healthcare. With this book, we are hoping that a lot of lessons will be drawn for Uganda with the aim of generating evidence-based policy,” Mr. Tiedemann said.

Ministry of Health should utilize Makerere University

In his speech, the Acting Deputy Vice Chancellor (Finance and Administration), Prof. William Bazeyo who represented the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe called upon the Ministry of Health to take advantage of the specialised human resource at the University in situations of policy implementation or disease outbreaks.

Makerere has always done research as its mandate and we have shared several policy documents from these findings with the Ministry of Health. We have done work with the malaria policy, the health insurance policy, HIV, circumcision and some work around sector training. Where you find it difficult to implement, talk to us and we shall walk with you,” Prof Bazeyo said.

“We may not have the resources but we shall look to our partners to work with you to achieve any agenda,” he added, in address to the Minister of State for Primary Health Care, Hon Sarah Opendi, who represented the Minister of Health, Hon. Ruth Aceng.

Prof. Bazeyo also thanked the EU for supporting the institution to address the country’s development needs. He thanked Assoc. Prof. Ssengooba who was in the 1st cohort of students taught at MakSPH for being exemplary and shared that the College of Health Sciences (CHS) to which MakSPH belongs, contributes 80% to Makerere University’s research.

“90% of this research is funded by donors. At the moment, the university is ranked number 2 in Africa in research despite the challenges but we want to visit you Honourable Minister because we know that if you support our budget, we shall become number one,” Prof. Bazeyo appealed.

The Principal CHS, Prof. Charles Ibingira also informed the Minister that the college has the capacity to train human resource for the health sector for the whole country and the diaspora.

“You need to think about utilising the college because we provide accountability,” he added, explaining that the university is the leading research institution in the country and can be used to solve many key issues in the health sector. He also talked about plans by CHS to spearhead a think tank that will contribute to the management of health issues in the country and region at large.

Prof. Ibingira equally expressed his exhilaration about the book and he thanked Assoc. Prof.  Ssengooba and his team for delivering.

The cover page of the book UNIVERSAL HEALTH COVERAGE IN UGANDA: Looking Back and Forward to Speed Up the Progress authored by Staff at MakSPH, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda

“I am very excited on this occasion where we are delivering on our promises and I am grateful to everyone who has made sure that the work is well-packaged. I humbly beg though that the information in the book will lead us to achieving UHC. This book strengthens the relevance of Makerere University and alerts us to the changing needs of health workers. It is an analysis of the different health policies in Uganda and a valuable asset to all partners engaged in seeing to UHC,” Prof Ibingira pointed out.

Government to commit 1% towards research

Speaking as Chief Guest at the launch, Hon. Opendi informed the audience that Government was committing to give 1% of the national budget towards research in the country, a move that comes at the right time when the health sector is re-positioning itself. She added that this commitment does not come easy since the country is resource-constrained alongside competing demands.

Hon. Opendi however added that the government was making progress with the implementation of the National Health Insurance Scheme. She acknowledged the proposal by Prof. Ibingira to set up a think tank and expressed her Ministry’s willingness to seeking guidance from it. She commended the book authors for focusing on other factors around health including prevention and human resource.

Authors speak about the book

One of the lead authors, Prof. Rutebemberwa also noted that whereas Uganda’s history over the years has been dotted with attempts to improve UHC, the advocates were usually not sure about what exactly should be covered.

Dr. Kiwanuka on the other hand noted that there is need to move away from the thinking that a good health sector only refers to functional hospitals.

“Everyone needs to be healthy enough not to go to hospital in the first place and that is what Universal Health Coverage is about,” she pointed out.

According to Assoc. Prof. Ssengooba, the target audiences for this book are the policymakers, health funders, civil societies who engage and teach people about health, and the media. He also noted that the population is spending a lot of their money on health, which calls for the government to invest more in prevention than cure.

He said the book also explores alternative ways in which all other sectors can support the achievement of UHC. For example when enforcement of traffic rules is tightened; as was the case along Masaka Road leading to reduced accidents, the burden to treat patients from accidents will reduce.

Speaking on the implementation of the policy, co-author Dr. Ekirapa-Kiracho shared that the team would continue to come up with policy briefs that will be issued to different stakeholders.

The book perfectly captures the adage that what we do today has been influenced by what was done yesterday. It examines previous attempts at addressing UHC and integrates them into the current health situation while taking into account the financial and political situation in the country to see how best the policy can be implemented going forward.

Article by Agnes Namaganda, Communications Office, MakSPH

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Uganda’s policymakers implored to address forest loss, plastic & water pollution

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Left to Right: Prof. Gunnar Köhlin, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, Amb. Maria Håkansson, Commissioner Julius Mafumbo and Prof. Edward Bbaale posing for a group photo before the opening ceremony on 22nd September 2022: Photo by EfD-Mak Centre.

The Vice Chancellor Professor Barnabas Nawangwe on Thursday 22nd September, 2022 participated in the opening of the EfD Annual meeting hosted by Makerere University at Speke Resort Munyonyo where he appealed to government to implement the ban on kaveera and address other environmental issues.

The opening ceremony moderated by the EfD Global Hub Manager Gunnar Köhlin and was graced by Uganda’s Minister for Water and Environment represented by the Commissioner for Water, Mr. Julius Mafumbo and the Swedish Ambassador to Uganda, H.E. Maria Håkansson.

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Prof. Nawangwe urges Makerere University community to support the Mastercard Foundation E-learning Initiative

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By Bernard Buteera

Makerere University has launched a two million dollar E-learning Project, dubbed The Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program E-learning initiative.  

The launch was held on Tuesday 20th September 2022 at Makerere University, Yusuf Lule Central Teaching Facility Auditorium. It attracted over 200 participants, who included members of University Management, College Principals, School Deans, Academic and Administrative staff, students and the general university community.

While addressing the gathering, the Chief Guest, Prof. Mary Okwakol, the Executive Director of National Council for Higher Education (NCHE), congratulated Makerere University for winning such a huge grant, which will go a long way in transforming the eLearning infrastructure at Makerere University.

“I am happy to be joining you in launching a project that is at the heart of National Council for Higher Education. Online learning is at the heart of the Council, not only because of the challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic, but also the world is now a digital world.” Prof. Okwakol remarked.

Prof. Okwakol thanked Mastercard Foundation and other development partners who have continued to support initiatives that help transform higher institutions of learning in Uganda.

“I sincerely thank the Mastercard Foundation and other partners who have continued to support higher education in Uganda, especially in the area of research and online learning. Globally, the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, greatly disrupted education systems forcing learners and some schools to shift to virtual learning to curb the spread of the pandemic.” Prof. Okwakol pointed out.

On his part, the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe urged the university community, especially the academic staff to take advantage of the Mastercard Foundation E-learning initiative to develop e-content across all Colleges of the University, to enhance capacity for eLearning at Makerere University.

[L -R] Chairperson of the Steering Committee of the E-learning Initiative, Prof. Umar Kakumba, Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, Prof. Mary Okwakol, the Executive Director of National Council for Higher Education (NCHE), Prof. Paul Birevu Muyinda, the Coordinator of the Mastercard Foundation E-learning Initiative and Prof. Justine Namaalwa, the Program Coordinator for Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program.

”I appeal to the Colleges to embrace this project and have as many courses adopt this pedagogy development system, even though students will continue with face-to face and phyisical learning, they should be allowed the option of online learning. The platforms that are going to be built, will give our students an opportunity to interact with international students, scholars, teachers and with each other.” Prof. Nawangwe applealed.

The Vice Chancellor, further called upon all other development partners to emulate Mastercard Foundation in supporting Makerere University and other universities on the entire African continent in strengthening digital literacy, so that Africa is not left behind.

”In 2018 I attended a conference on E-learning in Beijing China, where a critical question was asked; Will Africa be left behind again? This was in reference to many advancements that were taking place in the western world, in which Africa had been left behind.” The Vice Chancellor reminded the audience.

Prof. Nawangwe further emphaised the importance of e-learning as one of the critical modes of teaching and learning in the 21st first century.   

”Ladies and Gentlemen, I cannot over emphasise the importance we attach to e-learning the 21st Century, that is why we took a decision to elevate the Department of Open and Distance Learning into an Institute of Open and Distance E-learning with an intention of having e-learning extended to other Colleges of the university.” Prof. Nawangwe pointed out.

The Deputy Vice Chancellor Academic Affairs, and Chairperson of the Steering Committee of the E-learning Initiative, Prof. Umar Kakumba, rallied the University community to support the implementation of the project in the University.

“The Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program E-learning initiative could not have come in at a better time than post COVID19 era. A pandemic, which exposed our systems and methods of teaching and learning. You all recall, when were hit by the pandemic, with lockdowns and closures of institutions of learning, we all went into a panicky mode on how were going to cope with online learning. I therefore call upon every member of the university to give this project the support it deserves.

Prof. Kakumba reminded the audience the importance and relevancy of online learning at Makerere University and other universities in Uganda.

“The online method of learning is best suited for everyone. This digital revolution has led to remarkable changes in how the content is accessed, consumed, discussed, and shared. Office goers and stay home mothers can take up online educational courses too, at the time that suits them. Depending on their availability and comfort, many people choose to learn at weekends or evenings.” Prof. Kakumba remarked.

Prof. Paul Birevu Muyinda, the Coordinator of the Mastercard Foundation E-learning Initiative, informed the audience the importance of the project and the expected outcomes for the University.

One of the Champions of e-learning trained by Arizona State University, Prof. Paul Birevu Muyinda receiving a certificate from Chief Guest.

“The Mastercard Foundation e- Learning Initiative is a Project funded by Mastercard Foundation aimed at addressing the negative impact of COVID-19 pandemic that constrained access and continuity of teaching, learning, research and community engagement activities at Makerere University” Prof. Muyinda pointed out.

Prof. Muyinda further thanked the team that he worked with in putting up the proposal in a very short time that yielded such an important grant for the University.

“I thank the team that spent sleepless nights putting together the proposal that resulted into this project. I must report that Makerere University is privileged to be having the most highly qualified persons in online instruction design and online pedagogy at the IODeL and beyond. It is now up to Makerere University in particular and the Country in general to make use of these persons to transform the terrain of online, blended distance and e-learning education.” Prof. Muyinda remarked.

Prof. Justine Namaalwa, the Program Coordinator for Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program at Makerere University, informed the audience, that the E-learning initiative was one of the many partnerships between Mastercard Foundation and Makerere University geared at supporting the young people to succeed on the African continent.

Members of University Management, staff and students present.

“The Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program continues to recognize that in order to enable young people across Africa to succeed, there is need to; Address systemic barriers in Higher education, Strengthen the capacity of Institutions that serve the Young People, and Support innovative solutions across critical sectors.” Prof. Namaalwa remarked.

The colourful launch ended with a panel discussion in which panelists digested the importance and opportunities for open distance and eLearning in higher institutions of learning.

Bernard Buteera is the Communications Officer of the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program at Makerere University.

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Supplementary Admissions to Bachelor of Laws Under Private Sponsorship 2022/23

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Mak-Undergraduate-Admissions-2021-2022

The Academic Registrar, Makerere University, informs applicants wishing to be admitted to Bachelor of Laws Private for 2022/2023 Academic year but failed to submit their application online to submit their applications from Friday 23rd to Friday 30th September, 2022 at a non-refundable fee of 50,000/= (Fifty thousand shillings only).

The applicants MUST have passed the Pre-entry Examinations for Bachelor of Laws.

Diploma/Degree holders should submit certified copies of their academic transcript to Room
315 Level 3, Senate Building.

Applicants who have already been admitted need not apply.

For any additional information, contact Undergraduate Admissions Offices 301/303 for A’Level Applicants and Office 315 for Diploma/Degree holders.

ALFRED MASIKYE NAMOAH
AG. ACADEMIC REGISTRAR
Date: 22nd September, 2022

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