Good morning members of the Press.
I welcome you all to this press conference conducted via Zoom in response to the COVID-19 lockdown. I hope you are all observing the guidelines given by the World Health Organisation and different Government Departments and Agencies to stay safe. Obviously it is difficult to convince you members of the press to stay home, but please do everything possible to stay safe. There have been many questions regarding the role of universities in the fight against COVID-19. Today we want to share with you what Makerere University is doing about COVID-19.
Makerere University was closed on 20th March 2020 following a presidential directive in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. All students and staff were sent home immediately, except very few international students, who failed to get means of going home, whom we are looking after on campus.
Makerere University has a long tradition of responding to health emergencies and epidemics. We were at theforefront of the response to HIV/Aids and Ebola and our contribution in both cases is known the world over. We have built enormous capacity at our College of Health sciences to respond to emerging diseases, including the COVID-19 pandemic. Our 350 members of staff at the College of Health Sciences work very closely with the Ministry of Health.All of these continue to offer critical services to non-COVID illnesses, COVID19 national task force, clinical management for patients with COVID 19, as well as clinical research on the evolving clinical presentations of the COVID19 disease.
RESPONSE TO COVID-19
In Uganda, the first case of COVID was reported on 21stMarch 2020 and the numbers have since grown to 55 within one month. The Minister of Health established a 17-member multidisciplinaryscientific advisory committee composed of experienced public health, clinical, biomedical, social andbehavioural scientists to advise the Ministry on the overall strategy to ensure an evidence-based strategy and implementation of the COVID response in Uganda. The majority of the members of thiscommittee are from Makerere University. The committee has extensively reviewed the globalliterature to inform the Ugandan policy and has also similarly assembled high priority evidence gapsfor which local data is needed to urgently inform the improvements in the COVID prevention and management in Uganda. The questions and priority interventions include development of new rapidtest diagnostics, to alleviate the anticipated severe shortage of test kits, which has been a majorchallenge globally. Other questions include tracking of the immunological response in relation to new treatment options based on plasma for COVID patients who have recovered as well as development of HERD Immunity to protect the communities from future resurgence of COVID.
Other questionsrevolve around enhanced treatments to reduce the severity of COVID disease and the need for moresophisticated intensive care, given the limited intensive care capacity in Uganda and the African region. The team has also identified the need to explore the socio-economic and health systemimpact of COVID in Uganda, to inform broader mitigation strategies. Below is a list of the priorityquestions:
- Development of a rapid diagnostic test for CoVID19
- Validation of other non-WHO accredited tests for CoVID19
- Studies of HERD immunity/Immune response andimplications for future prevention of COVID recurrence as well as clinical management
- Chloroquine/Hydroxychloroquine and other treatments
- Modelling of COVID19 epidemic in Uganda to inform planning and intervention mix over time
- Environmental sampling for public health risk evaluation
- Supporting the NIH biobank to acquire and store biological specimen for CoVID19
- Tracking health service utilization and COVID19 impacton health systems
- Sequencing of the SARS-CoV2 isolates among Ugandan CoVID19 patients
- Duration of viral shedding and Infectivity following recovery
- Effect of the Uganda COVID-19 treatment protocol on outcomes and associated factors
- Chloroquine for Prevention of Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) amongst healthcare workersinvolved in COVID patient care
- Hydroxychloroquine vs Chloroquine for Post Exposure Prophylaxis for Coronavirus Disease(COVID-19) amongst Ugandans exposed couple with viral loads.
- Efficacy and Safety of Corticosteroids in severe COVID-19 related pneumonia
- Hydroxychloroquine/AzithromAzithromycin vs Chloroquine alone for Treatment for Severe COVID-19 Pulmonary Infection.
Makerere University researchers have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic with innovations to address the challenges I have mentioned above. The innovations include the following:
- A rapid testing kit under development by a team led by Dr. MisakiWayengera. This kit should enable rapid testing for coronavirus and considerably lower the cost of testing currently standing at USD 65, which is obviously prohibitive for developing countries like Uganda.
- Diagnosis is a key strategy in pandemic control, enabling early detection of those infection and their isolation for treatment
- In the context of the on-going COVID19 pandemic, diagnosis has been problematic due to the global scarcity of the existing WHO approved test kits
- Moreover, the existing WHO approved kits for CoVID19 are premised on RT-PCR—detecting viral RNA. RT-PCR is itself an expensive platform (costing over US$65 per kit), requires a laboratory, demands technical expertise, and takes long (4-6 hours) to yield results.
- Thus, it is not amenable for point of care (POC) deployment in remote equatorial African settings, most without laboratory capacity
What we are doing
- Our group at MakCHS has over the past 15 years build extensive expertise, experience and eco-systems across the academia, industry and public private partnerships for R & D of pathogen diagnostics
- We are developing an affordable (costing < US$1), easy to use (requiring minimal expertise, user guide), rapid (yielding results within 2-5 minutes) POC test platform for COVID19 suited for use within remote equatorial African settings
- The swab-tube dipstick agglutination (STDS-AgX) SARS-CoV2 antigen test will utilize the nasopharyngeal sample collection swab, which is placed back into its tube containing reagents that detect the virus surface protein. On shaking, a positive result will be visualized as formation of particles (equivalent to what is seen when clear milk, goes bad)
- In addition, we shall develop two lateral flow test (LFT) platforms for detecting host-specific antibody responses against CoVID19 (IgM and IgG)
- Detection of COVID19 cases within epidemic/pandemic settings (STDS-AgX COVID19 Ag test)
- Screening of travelers for COVID19 (either STDS-AgX COVID19 Ag test or IgM LFA)
- Detection of asymptomatic COVID19 (STDS-AgX COVID Ag test and IgM LFA)
- Sero-prevalence studies to determine previous exposure (IgG LFA)
These home-grown assay platforms will enable Uganda and other African settings cost-effectively respond to the COVID19 pandemic. This particularly as the pandemic enters the exponential phase in many countries when many cases will emerge, and yet tests are scarce on the global scene
- Antibody (IgM and IgG) LFA (end of May, 2020)
- 1st STDS-AgX COVID19 (June 2020)
- The Epidemic Management Tent (EpiTent) developed by a team from the Resilient Africa Network (RAN), a project involving 16 universities in 11 african countries based in the School of Public Health and coordinated by Prof. Bazeyo. The EpiTent is used for isolation of patients with severe communicable diseases like Ebola and COVID-19 and it is approved by the USAID and the WHO;
- Development of a low-cost ventilator by a team involving researchers from the Resilient Africa Network, College of Engineering and Technology, College of Health Sciences and engineers from Kiira Motors Corporation. The team successfully conducted an engineering test of the ventilator on 10th April 2020 and it is now undergoing various validation tests before applying to the National Drug Authority and other certifying agencies for use on patients. The ventilator will considerably lower the cost of this very important facility from the current cost on the open international market, which ranges between USD 25,000 and 60,000. Development of the ventilator, which will cost approximately USD 5,000 is expected to be completed in the next four to eight weeks;
- Makerere University Health Services with support from Case Western Reserve University has built capacity to perform PCR based (molecular) tests for COVID-19. They will be able to conduct 40,000 tests and they are finalizing the details for implementation;
- Makerere University is partnering with several local and international research institutions and universities in the search for solutions to the COVID-19 pandemic.
RESPONSES BY OTHER DISCIPLINES
Faculty from the Colleges of Health Sciences and Engineering, design, Art and Technology are at the forefront of responding to the pandemic. However, faculty from other disciplines are making a contribution too. Several of these faculty are making a contribution to raising awareness among the community and providing correct information where fake news has raised alarms like in the case of the claim that COVID-19 is caused by the 5G Technology. Management of a pandemic like COVID-19 cannot be achieved by health science alone, societal behavior is key, hence the role of humanities and social sciences and I am glad that faulty at Makerere University from various disciplines are making their contribution.
Let me end my remarks by thanking our faculty from the College of Health Sciences, who have joined the rest of the health workers in Uganda at the frontline in fighting the spread of COVID-19 disease. I also thank all our scientists who are looking for local solutions to the pandemic and we are glad to share any research results with the international community. Makerere is committed to contributing to knowledge creation and innovations for the good of humanity. We will continue along this path because this is what makes us a truly global university. I thank all of you members of the press for joining this conference. We will now take some questions, which our researchers will be happy to answer.
Students Disciplinary Committee Sworn In, Urged to Uphold Professionalism, Ethics & Integrity
Members of the Makerere University Students Disciplinary Committee were on Thursday 29th February 2024 sworn in at a ceremony presided over by the Chairperson of Council represented by Mr. Timothy Ssejjoba, the Chairperson Student Affairs Committee of Council. The oaths, administered by Counsel Balondemu Kenneth, were witnessed by the Vice Chancellor represented by Prof. Henry Alinaitwe the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Finance and Administration), Chairperson of the Students Disciplinary Committee, Mr. Isaac Newton Kyagaba, University Secretary, Mr. Yusuf Kiranda, Dean of Students, Mrs. Winifred Kabumbuli, Ms. Phiona Natukunda, and other officials.
Members of the Committee sworn in included;
- Hon. Beatrice Kiraso,
- Prof. Godfrey Akileng,
- Prof. Sylvia Antonia Nakimera Nannyonga-Tamusuza, and
- Rev. Dr. Lydia Nsaale Kitayimbwa.
Mr. Timothy Ssejjoba on behalf of the Chairperson, Vice Chairperson and Members of Council congratulated the members upon being sworn in and expressed confidence that they are going to exercise their duty and mandate very well. “I am excited to see gallant and very committed members of our community who have decided to take part of their precious time to uphold the values and principles of this esteemed institution.”
Recognizing the paramount role of the Disciplinary Committee in fostering an environment conducive to the conduct of academic affairs, and where respect, integrity and discipline thrive, Mr. Ssejjoba urged newly sworn in members to strive to ensure that Makerere remains a centre of excellence not only in academics but also character formation and social conduct.
“Your commitment to fairness, impartiality and due process will be the cornerstone of your service. As you undertake this duty, I urge you to approach every case with empathy, with understanding and with a commitment to justice” he added.
Mr. Ssejjoba urged the Committee Members to always remember that their decisions will shape the lives of students and impact the future of the institution. “The trust bestowed upon you comes with great responsibility. Uphold the highest standards of professionalism, ethics and integrity in all your endeavours. Let your actions reflect the values that Makerere University stands for.”
The Chairperson, Makerere University Students Disciplinary Committee, Mr. Isaac Newton Kyagaba who was officially sworn in on 18th March 2022 is yet to complete his term and as such, was not required to take oath. Addressing the gathering, he thanked the Chairperson of the Student Affairs Committee, the Vice Chancellor and Members of Management for sparing time to witness the event. He extended gratitude to the newly sworn-in members for sacrificing time to serve Makerere, noting that Committee proceedings sometimes last an entire day.
In the same breath, Mr. Kyagaba thanked the University Management and Directorate of Legal Affairs represented by Ms. Phiona Natukunda for supporting the Committee in the execution of its duties. He nevertheless urged the University Officials to ensure that all the cases brought before the Committee have sufficient supporting evidence to enable them be disposed of quickly and permit the accused to proceed with their academic programmes.
Prof. Henry Alinaitwe in his remarks thanked the Chairperson and Members of the Disciplinary Committee for accepting to serve Makerere, noting that discipline; be it of staff, students or stakeholders, is very important especially for an academic institution. He added that unlike past decades where the student population was smaller, today’s population is bigger and demands more attention.
He decried past disturbances on the campus that led to destruction of property and loss of life and reiterated Management’s zero-tolerance to acts that go against the University’s policies and regulations. “We really ask the Disciplinary Committee to help us in arresting such cases so that they serve as a deterrent.”
Prof. Alinaitwe added his voice to that of the University Secretary who had in the opening remarks appreciated that the precious time Members of the Disciplinary Committee spend rendering pro bono services to the Makerere Community’s cannot be compensated enough. “We don’t take that for granted.”
Mr. Kiranda in his opening remarks stated that the duties performed by Members of the Disciplinary Committee are a true reflection of the spirit of community service, “so we sincerely thank you very much for this sacrifice.” For example, he noted that academic staff who serve on the Committee do not get their workload reduced, and Committee Members who hold jobs elsewhere spend a significant amount of their time handling University business.
This Committee’s service, he nevertheless added, is important for the enforcement of university rules, which must be done transparently, fairly and impartially. The University Secretary noted that students as they go about their academic life might error either unintentionally or as an act of indiscipline, hence the need for a Students Disciplinary Committee to help the University Management determine each case.
“This Committee is a very strong component of the University Governance ecosystem because as an academic institution, we operate under a set of policies, rules and regulations that everybody must obey, for the maintenance of social order, and for us to work collectively in the pursuit of the goals and objectives of this university, and for creating an enabling environment for research and learning” affirmed Mr. Kiranda. He concluded by thanking the Committee Chairperson and Members for contributing to Makerere’s mandate in the overall nation building agenda.
The swearing in ceremony which opened with a word of prayer by the Dean of Students, Mrs. Winifred Kabumbuli was moderated by the Principal Public Relations Officer, Ms. Ritah Namisango.
Advert: Admission to Postgraduate Programmes 2024/2025
The Academic Registrar, Makerere University invites applications for admission to Graduate Programmes (Postgraduate Diplomas, Masters and Doctoral Degree Programmes) for the 2024/2025 Academic Year. Applicants should have obtained at least a first or second class degree (or its equivalent) from a Chartered University at the time of completion. Applicants should also possess a Uganda Certificate of Education (or its equivalent) and a Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education (or its equivalent).
All Graduate Programmes are PRIVATELY-SPONSORED. Therefore applicants seeking sponsorship should have their applications endorsed by their respective sponsors where applicable. Applicants should note that the various fees payable to the University indicated for the various programmes EXCLUDE functional fees, accommodation, books, research and other expenses.
PhD Degrees by Research Only:
All Colleges offer PhD degrees by Research. Applicants for PhD by research should have a Master’s degree in a field relevant to their area of fmther studies and should have obtained at least a first or second class degree (or its equivalent) from a Chartered University at the time of completion. Applicants for the PhDs by Research will be required to submit on-line applications and also submit four copies of the concept note in Office No. 410, Level 4, Senate Building.
How to Apply:
- Visit the Makerere University’s Admissions URL https://apply.mak.ac. ug
- Sign up using full name, e-mail and Mobile No. Please note that your name must be similar to the one on your suppmting academic documents for your application to be considered valid.
- A password will be sent to both your e-mail and mobile number.
- The system will prompt you to change the password to the one you can easily remember.
- To fill a form (all form sections must be filled) the applicant clicks on the APPLY NOW button (for first time applicants) or MY PORTAL button (for renewal of application) displayed on the appropriate scheme i.e. Taught PhDs, Masters & Postgrad Diplomas OR PhD by Research.
- All academic transcripts/certificates and passport photos should be scanned and uploaded on the system.
- You can access the referees’ form by following the following link:
https: //rgt. mak.ac. ug/sites/default/files/file-attachments/Referee-Letter-of-Recommendation-forAdmission-to-Graduate-Programme.pdf. These should be filled, scanned and uploaded.
- Obtain a payment Reference No. by clicking on “Pay for Form” button
- Make payments at any of the banks used by Uganda Revenue Authority. Application fee is UGX 50,000 (East African applicants) or UGX 151,500 (International Applicants). For International applicants, application fees can be transferred either by EFT or any other means in UGX to a designated URA collection account in Bank of Uganda as follows:
Account Name: UGANDA REVENUE AUTHORITY COLLECTIONS
Account No: 003410158000002
Swift Code: UGBAUGKAU
Bank Name: BANK OF UGANDA
Bank Address: KAMPALA, UGANDA
Currency: UGANDA SHILLINGS
- Strictly observe the closing date of Friday, 31st May, 2024.
- All Applicants for Master of Laws (LLM) will do a Graduate Admission Test (GAT) consisting of an oral Interview and written test on dates and other requirements to be conm1Unicated by the School.
- All Applicants for Master of Business Administration (College of Business and Management Sciences and Makerere University Business School) will do a GMAT test on dates to be communicated by College of Business and Management Sciences and Makerere University Business School respectively.
- In addition to the general admission requirements, applicants for Master of Public Infrastructure Management (MPIM) must have “Proven professional experience of at least 2 years at managerial/supervisory level or policy-decision making position in a government, parastatal organ, international organisation or non-governmental organisation” Applicants should attach a 2- page short CV and referee recommendations.
Further details of tuition fees and the available programmes open for admission can be accessed from the document below:
Scholars converge at Makerere University to review the 40 years of Neoliberalization in Uganda
Scholars met at Makerere University to review four decades of neoliberal transformation of Uganda, the role of universities as agents and the transformative character of the process.
The ’what to do’ question was one of the central points of discussion at the conference titled Uganda’s Neoliberalism at 40: Taking stock of the operation of an exemplary market society in East Africa held on 18th to 19th January, 2024. The conference, a collaborative effort among Makerere University, International University of Rabat, Morocco and the University of Leeds, United Kingdom was organised and steered by Dr Giuliano Martiniello (Rabat), Dr Sarah Ssali (Makerere), Dr Jörg Wiegratz (Leeds), Dr Rose Nakayi (Makerere) and Professor Godfrey Asiimwe (Makerere, Mountains of the Moon University). The conference organisers had previously collaborated as part of the work on the edited collection ‘Uganda: The Dynamics of Neoliberal Transformation’ which was published in 2018.
The conference gave particular focus to relevant developments in matters of political economy, politics, society and culture in Uganda’s market society since 2018. Speakers and participants were drawn from Uganda, UK, Italy, Germany, Czech Republic, France, Colombia, Egypt, South Africa, Denmark, Morocco, Canada and USA; across disciplines; including civil society leaders, journalists, intellectuals, grassroots activists, citizen researchers, as well as scholars and PhD students. More participants followed the discussions online on both conference days. The large gathering allowed for broad discussions and cross fertilisation of ideas on the various themes, connecting theory and practice within the Ugandan context.
The keynote was given by Professor Yash Tandon, a major figure in political and intellectual life in Uganda and beyond. Tandon positioned the conference in the historical context of Uganda and highlighted the imperialist roots of the neoliberal policies that are driving the restructuring agenda in Uganda today. The keynote panel brought together interventions by Professor John Jean Barya, Dr Martiniello and the public intellectual, writer and activist Kalundi Serumaga.
Papers were presented under panels on various themes such as labour, agricultural and environmental change, oil and energy transition, socio-cultural change, education, social policy state, elections and political agency. Several papers interrogated the pertinent neoliberal policies as drivers of problematic changes in various sectors such as oil and gas, education, health and housing, and in matters such as labour and labour unions. This stimulated debates on a key question: whether indeed there could be alternatives to the ongoing neoliberalisation of Uganda that seems to be unstoppable, across all realms of society.
Commentators on the papers included Dr Yusuf Serunkuma (Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg), journalist and activist Agatha Atuhaire. They reflected on the everyday life aspects and the deep politics of neoliberalism in Uganda and highlighted various forms of existing resistance and push back vis-à-vis neoliberal political economy. Winnie Byanyima (UNAIDS Executive Director) enriched the conference with her comments about global and local neoliberalism, and the importance of activism in the struggle for change in today’s Uganda: she raised the ‘what should we do?’ question on conference day one; which was picked up by subsequent speakers including in the conference’s closing speeches and discussions.
Issues arising from the conference included:
- Four decades into the neoliberal transformation of Uganda, the all-encompassing and transformative character of this process is evident. It was also noted that scholars have grappled with the analysis of some of these changes; mostly focusing on issues of governance, policy-making, military conflict, and state-building.
- Relatively little analytical attention has been given to major topics concerning the making and operation of today’s neoliberal Uganda, this exemplary market society in East Africa and the continent at large: this includes the political economy of neoliberal restructuring (including the roll-out of commercialisation across sectors and the rise to dominance of foreign TNCs), the political sociology of the formation of hegemonic and counter-hegemonic movements, and the political ecology of extractivism.
- The existence of significant gaps in the academic literature about the interlinkages among economic, political, sociological, ecological, legal and cultural processes in this highly consequential round of capitalist restructuring of the country: the phase that has locked-in a distinct capitalist institutional architecture for the foreseeable future.
- The question of how to contest, resist and change the existing neoliberal polity, economy and culture – i.e., the fundamentals of Uganda’s capitalism – is also not often analysed in much of the scholarship. And yet, the ‘what to do?’ question is prominent in the public debate in the country, given the manifold crises – across economic and social sectors – brought about by neoliberalisation.
The conference took place in a wider context in which universities have been recognized as agents of change in many societal spheres. They are moving away from the ‘ivory tower’ concept, where they are seen as occupying special places in terms of knowledge generation without much concrete connection to society and its everyday challenges. Instead, the change-oriented agency of today’s University is evident also in the offering of a platform to debate and generate ideas that can inform policy for change, and involvement in change-oriented projects with other stakeholders, public and private.
The conference thus aimed at providing a platform for analysing and debating various developments of Uganda’s neoliberalism since the early 1980s.
It is hoped that many papers presented at the conference will be developed further, subjected to peer review, and published to inform research and policy making in Uganda and beyond. The conference participants continue their networking and collaborations beyond the end of the conference.
The next conference on contemporary capitalism in Uganda is expected to be held in 2026. The conference was supported by the POLIS Strategic Investment Fund (SRIF) 2023/24 (University of Leeds). This grant also helped citizen researchers from northern Uganda to participate in the conference and present their research findings.
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