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Mak-Sweden APM 2019 off to Inspiring Start

Ambassador of Sweden to Uganda-H.E. Per Lindgärde (Front Row: 6th L), Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe (To his left), Vice Chancellor MUST-Prof. Celestino Obua (to his Right) with Swedish Embassy Staff, Members of Management and Principal Investigators on Day one of the Mak-Sida APM, 8th April 2019, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda

The Makerere University-Sweden Bilateral Research Programme’s Annual Planning Meeting (APM) 2019 got off to an inspiring start as participating institutions underlined their intention to comply with the theme; Building a Collaborative Research Future. The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe’s remarks on Ugandan partner universities working on exit strategy to sustain the research investments beyond 2020 and reactions from Swedish partners expressing willingness to collaborate with Session 1 presenters on application of research findings all clearly attested to this.

Addressing participants and dignitaries at the opening ceremony of the APM on Monday, 8th April 2019, the Ambassador of Sweden to Uganda, H.E. Per Lindgärde welcomed the discussion on strengthening the ownership and securing the sustainability of his Government’s investment in Uganda’s research over the past twenty years.

“Despite the challenges faced in the implementation of this programme, 361 scholars have been recruited and a number of new curricula have been developed. I congratulate you for this and other important achievements” remarked Ambassador Lindgärde.

Ambassador of Sweden to Uganda-H.E. Per Lindgärde delivers his remarks at the APM 2019

He nevertheless urged the implementing Ugandan Public Universities to strengthen the quality of supervision and put in place systems for monitoring and analyzing data concerning student progress on the programme.

Earlier, Ambassador Lindgärde had noted with pleasure the Uganda Government’s plans to review the Higher Education Sector Strategic Plan and National Policy for Science, Technology and Innovation. “This will help to facilitate the very much needed transformation of the Higher Education Sector in Uganda and reequip the sector with the policies and resources to make it a dynamic engine that can help power the Ugandan economy as stated in the Vision 2040.”

The Ambassador also thanked the Department of Performing Arts and Film (PAF) students for singing Swedish Anthem “so beautifully.”

The Department of Performing Arts and Film sings the Anthems at the Makerere-Sida APM 2019

In his opening remarks, the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe thanked the Government of Uganda for allocating UGX30billion in the 2019/2020 financial year to support research at Makerere University. This, he noted, would go a long way in enabling Makerere’s pool of researchers; including over 250 PhDs and 100 Masters and 50 Postdoctoral fellows trained under the Bilateral Research Programme since 2000, to gainfully contribute to national development.

“This support has greatly improved the research culture of the University.  I must say that many proposals are now being funded both in the basic and social sciences. Our publications have also greatly increased and this achievement is largely due to the support from Government of Sweden through Sida.

“The Swedish support has enabled us to implement all our research priorities including Health and Health Systems; Agricultural Transformation, Food Security and Livelihoods; Natural Resources Governance and Climate Change; Education and Education Systems; Governance, Culture, Social Justice and Sustainable Development; Science and Technology. The cross-cutting areas include Biotechnology, Knowledge Translation, Gender and Human Resource Development” added the Vice Chancellor.  

The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe thanked the Swedish Government for the support over 20 years

Prof. Nawangwe further noted that Makerere University has with the support of Sida been able to establish strong collaborations with leading universities including those from Sweden. “We have learnt best practices from these universities and also benefitted from joint supervision, which has ensured high quality of our graduates.”

In this regard, he thanked Swedish institutions such as Karolinska Institute for working with Ugandan universities on programmes beyond the current phase of Swedish Government support. The final phase of the Makerere-University Sweden Bilateral Research Programme runs until June 2020.

The Director, Directorate of Research and Graduate Training (DRGT) and Overall Sida Programme Coordinator, Prof. Buyinza Mukadasi noted that the five-day APM has been organised to provide an opportunity for the five Ugandan Public Universities to share research findings, take stock of performances as per the agreed research undertakings and engage with policy to transform society.

The Director DRGT and Overall Coordinator Makerere-Sida Bilateral Research Programme, Prof. Buyinza Mukadasi

“In recent years, Makerere has placed more emphasis on research and scholarly productivity of faculty. Despite the regional faculty shortage, we were able to recruit and appoint a number of PhD-prepared and research-active faculty and to support junior faculty to get their PhDs. Capacity building has been a major goal of the University and will continue to be so in the future” reassured Prof. Buyinza.

Prof. Buyinza also introduced participants from the eleven Swedish collaborating institutions namely; Stockholm University, Karolinska Institute, University of Boras, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, University of Gothenburg, Uppsala University, Chalmers University of Technology, Lund University, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Linköping University and Mälardalen University.

The APM’s Science Day presentations kicked off in a session chaired by the Sida Programme Coordinator in Kyambogo University, Assoc. Prof. Nabalegwa Wambede. Dr. Gaston Ampek Tumuhimbise from the Department of Food Technology and Human Nutrition, Makerere University presented on the use of amaranth leaves and skimmed milk powders to enrich orange fleshed sweet potato flour while Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST)’s Mr. Vincent Mwesigye presented on the sero-antigen prevalence, risk factors of lymphatic filariasis and podoconiosis in Busiriba, Kamwenge District.

Session 1 Presenters L-R: Mr. Okot Fred David, Dr. Gaston Ampek Tumuhimbise and Mr. Vincent Mwesigye take questions after their presentation

However, the shock and awe moment of the day belonged to Mr. Okot Fred David whose presentation on partial findings of characterisation of anti-venom compounds from selected plants locally used for treatment of snakebites in Uganda left the audience gaping. His findings will seek to document and determine the anti-venom potential of medicinal plants used by traditional medical practitioners to treat snakebites since time immemorial. This indigenous knowledge, he observed, is sadly not so prevalent among the youth and risks being lost with the passing on of the older generations.

Article by Public Relations Office


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