At a press conference held today Tuesday 16th June 2020, a research team led by Makerere University presented a ‘Mathematical Model of COVID-19 dynamics in Uganda: Using a locally parameterized system to enhance intervention policies’. The aim of the research from which the model is developed was to study the dynamics of COVID-19 in Uganda and use the results to provide comprehensive forecast of the disease’ trends. The model endeavours to provide appropriate evidence-based policy support to government on the timing and nature of intervention measures.
The research team that worked on the study is led by Prof. Joseph Y.T. Mugisha, a Professor of Biomathematics (Department of Mathematics, College of Natural Sciences). Professor Mugisha is also the Principal of the College of Natural Sciences, Makerere University. Other members of the team are: Dr. Juliet Nakakawa Nsumba (Makerere University), Dr. Joseph Ssebuliba (Makerere University) Dr. Amos Ssematimba (Gulu University), and Dr. Cliff Richard Kikawa (Kabale University).
The Vice Chancellor – Makerere University, Professor Barnabas Nawangwe and the Deputy Vice Chancellor –Academic Affairs, Associate Professor Umar Kakumba attended the press conference.
In his remarks, Professor Nawangwe welcomed the press to Makerere University thanking them for informing the public about the research and innovations developed by staff and students of Makerere University. He said ‘as we all are aware, COVID-I9 is a big global challenge and Makerere as a lead research institution is working to provide solutions to the pandemic at the national, regional and global levels with our partners’. He reiterated his appreciation of the Government of Uganda for providing funds through the Makerere Research and Innovation Fund that enabled the team to undertake the study presented.
The findings of this study show that the immediately implemented measures by the Government of Uganda averted thousands of cases that would have overstretched the health system within a couple of months. Without significantly altering the current situation, measures on partial lockdowns and use of masks are insufficient to stop COVID-19 and as such the disease will remain endemic in the population. In all the assessed scenarios the disease would be wiped out in the case where there are no infected arrivals beyond the first 58 days and in this case the disease would be wiped out within 200 days.
With the worrying situation of increased reported cases in our neighbouring countries, the impact of Uganda’s interventions would be greatly affected as results show that doubling the imported cases would almost triple both the maximum number of hospitalized individuals and the number of undetected cases.
Screening of truck drivers faces a challenge of reagent limitation, imperfect test accuracy, arrival of asymptomatic and latently infected individuals that may pass as false negatives during screening as well as the porosity of some of the national borders. Thus, adoption of alternative less-risky means of essential cargo delivery (e.g., by rail and ship services) combined with quarantining of all entrants for a duration not shorter than the incubation period should be enforced.
Amidst challenges of social-economic impact of COVID-19, agitation of lifting lockdown may downplay the impact of intervention measures and the study findings highlight the importance of optimal timing and magnitude of lockdown easing. Effectively phased-out ease of lockdown needs to be well studied and executed to avoid the possibility of a second wave.
1. It is not advisable to eased lockdown by releasing 50% of susceptible population for the Ugandan situation with current 3200 hospital beds and not all are of ICU-like capacity, because within 100 days the COVID-19 related hospitalization demand would have already overwhelmed the current resources.
2. Since the consequences of hospital acquired infections go beyond merely increasing the number of cases, their mitigation should be given high priority.
3. Lifted to a 75% level, the yet-to-be detected cases in the community have potential to start a second and more disastrous epidemic wave. However, with enhanced surveillance and contact tracing, gradual easing by releasing smaller percentages of susceptible individuals from lockdown can still be safely executed sooner than the optimum 210 days for up to 75% susceptible level.
4. The issue of handling truck drivers mingling at service and testing centres at border crossings should be reinforced – preferably, government should set up treatment and isolation facilities as close as possible to the testing border points not to overwhelmed the existing regional facilities, optimize scarce handling resources and also to minimize stigma and community discontent. This would in addition reduce the time frontline workers are exposed to the risk of infection amidst lack of well-equipped ambulances
5. Since latently infected individuals can only be detected after latent period, effort should be put on obtaining information on where the drivers have been few days before arrival to understand the risk of admitting persons from high risk regions of neighbouring countries. The risk of imported cases is not only posed by those who test positive but also due to false negatives and latently infected individuals.
Ms Zaam Ssali
College of Natural Sciences
Mak Listed in 19 of 60 Projects to be Funded under NORHED II
Makerere University has been listed in 19 out of 60 projects awarded funding under the NORHED II programme set to run from 2021 to 2026. Launched by Norad (Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation) in 2012, NORHED is Norway’s flagship programme on higher education and research for development.
According to the announcement on the Norad website, 199 applications were submitted to the call, out of which 60 will be funded to the tune of NOK 1.1 billion. Uganda is also listed among the countries with the highest number of projects alongside Tanzania, Ethiopia and Malawi.
Makerere University is listed in a total of nineteen (19) projects applied for by Norwegian institutions namely; the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU) – three (3) projects, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) – four (4) projects, University of Agder (UiA) – three (3) projects, University of Bergen (UiB) – six (6) projects, University of Oslo (UiO) – two (2) projects, and The Arctic University of Norway (UiT) – one (1) project.
Makerere was listed most in Sub-programme: 3. Climate Change and Natural Resources (6 projects), followed by Sub-programme: 5. Humanities and Social Sciences (5 projects), Sub-programme: 1. Education and Teacher Training (4 projects) as well as Sub-programme 2. Health and Sub-programme: 6. Energy with two projects apiece. Below is the breakdown of the list in five of the six respective sub-programmes, excluding Sub-programme: 4. Political and Economic Governance where there was no project listed.
|Project title||Applicant organization||Project partners in Global South|
|Sub-programme: 1. Education and Teacher Training (4 projects)|
|1||CABUTE – Capacity Building for Research-Based Teacher Education||University of Bergen (UiB)||Makerere University, Kyambogo University, UNITE – The Uganda National Institute of Teacher Education|
|2||Transformative Education and Lifelong Learning for Sustainable Growth||University of Agder (UiA)||Jimma University, University of Rwanda, Makerere University|
|3||Mathematics for sustainable development.||University of Bergen (UiB)||University of Dar Es Salaam, Makerere University|
|4||Decolonizing Epistemologies: the Disciplines and the University||University of Bergen (UiB)||Makerere University|
|Sub-programme: 2. Health (2 projects)|
|5||iCARTA – Institutionalisation of Advanced Research Training in Africa||University of Bergen (UiB)||African Population and Health Research Center, University of Malawi, University of Rwanda, University of the Witswatersrand, Makerere University|
|6||Climate Change and Infectious Diseases – A One Health Approach||The Arctic University of Norway (UiT)||University of Bahr ElGhazal, Makerere University|
|Sub-programme: 3. Climate Change and Natural Resources (6 projects)|
|7||Environmental Risk Management under Increasing Extremes and Uncertainty||Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)||Haramaya University, Institute of Resource Assessment, University of Dar es Salaam, Uganda Marty’s University, Makerere University|
|8||Climate smart agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa||Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU)||Wondo Genet college of Forestry and Natural Resources – Hawassa University, University of Juba, Makerere University, Gulu University, University of Zambia,|
|9||Enhanced Capacity for Aquatic Resources in East and South Africa||Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU)||University of Nairobi, Mbeya University of Science and Technology, Egerton University, Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Eduardo Mondlane, University of Dar Es Salaam, Makerere University, University of Zambia|
|10||Water ESSENCE Africa – creating synergy to meet the global challenges||University of Bergen (UiB)||Addis Ababa University, University of Ghana, University for Development Studies, University of Nairobi, Machakos University, University of Rwanda University of Juba, Makerere University|
|11||Co-creating knowledge for local adaptation to climate change in LDCs||Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU)||International Centre for Climate Change and Development, Pokhara University, University of Eduardo Mondlane, Makerere University|
|12||Adaptive Environmental Monitoring Networks for East Africa||Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)||University of Juba, Dar es Salaam Institute of Technology, Makerere University|
|Sub-programme: 5. Humanities and Social Sciences (5 projects)|
|13||Refugees on the Move – South Sudanese in Ethiopia, Sudan and Uganda.||University of Bergen (UiB)||Addis Ababa University, University of Juba, University of Khartoum, Makerere University|
|14||Medical and environmental anthropology for 21st century East Africa||University of Oslo (UiO)||University of Nairobi, Maseno University, Kenya Medical Research Institute, National Institute for Medical Research – Tanzania, Makerere University, University of Dar Es Salaam|
|15||Building Resilient Communities through Inclusive Education in East Africa||University of Agder (UiA)||University of Rwanda, Institute of Social Work – Tanzania, Makerere University|
|16||Gender and digitalization across context (GENDIG)||University of Agder (UiA)||University of Dar Es Salaam, Makerere University|
|17||Partnership for Peace: Better Higher Education for Resilient Societies||University of Oslo (UiO)||African School of Economics – Benin, Universidad de los Andes, Mekelle University, Birzeit University, Makerere University|
|Sub-programme: 6. Energy (2 projects)|
|18||Capacity building for socially just and sustainable energy transitions||Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)||University of Nairobi, University of Juba, Makerere University|
|19||Energy Technology Network||Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)||Addis Ababa University, Mekelle University, University of Malawi, University of Eduardo Mondlane, University of Juba, University of Dar Es Salaam, Makerere University|
Please click here to view the full list.
UiB sweeps NORHED II funding
NORHED is Norway’s national flagship programme on higher education and research for development. NORHED II represents the second time the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) awards funding through the programme. A total of 1.1 billion Norwegian kroner (NOK) were awarded to a total of 60 projects out of 199 applications, of which NOK 250 million were awarded to 13 University of Bergen (UiB) projects. This puts UiB top among Norway’s universities along with the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), which was also awarded 13 projects.
The aim of the NORHED programme is to strengthen the capacity of higher education institutions in the global south to produce higher-quality graduates, more research, higher quality research, and more inclusive higher education. The programme is based on a collaborative partnership model between higher education institutions in Norway and the global south.
Makerere University in Uganda is involved in six projects, most of any partner in the global south. These include;
- Mathematics for sustainable development,
- Refugees on the Move – South Sudanese in Ethiopia, Sudan and Uganda,
- Capacity Building for Research-Based Teacher Education (CABUTE),
- Water ESSENCE Africa – creating synergy to meet the global challenges,
- iCARTA – Institutionalisation of Advanced Research Training in Africa, and
- Decolonizing Epistemologies: the Disciplines and the University
My Academic Journey
My name is Irene Bayiyana and I am one of the RUFORUM Alumni. I am an agricultural economist, with a master’s degree in Agricultural and Applied Economics and a PhD in Economics. Currently, I am working as a Research Officer/Agricultural Economist based at the National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO)/ National Crops Resources Research Institute (NaCRRI) – Namulonge. When I attained a bachelor’s degree, I worked as an assistant research fellow under Prof. Johnny Mugisha in the Department of agribusiness and natural resource economics at Makerere University. Through Prof. Johnny Mugisha, I got to know about the RUFORUM Grant on “Assessment of spatio-temporal bovine migratory routes and Transboundary animal disease infestation in Uganda”. Since I had the interest to advance my career, I applied for the scholarship
After my admission for the master’s degree, I wondered! what next? The African Economic Research Consortium (AERC) had only offered a partial scholarship catering for only my tuition and part of research funds. RUFORUM scholarship covered my stipend, research balance and funds to attend the 2012 RUFORUM Biennial conference thus enabling me to complete my master’s degree.
I was able to realize my dream of becoming a good scientist in 2012 at the RUFORUM Biennial Conference. Through the facilitation to attend several conferences, RUFORUM gave me a chance to interact with a broad spectrum of scientists from whom I learnt and received positive criticism and feedback on what I was doing. Moreover, the encouragement and support from different scientists that I interacted with also spurred me on as an upcoming scientist.
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