Connect with us

Research

Makerere University Presents Covid-19 Intervention Model

Published

on

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.

Study Conclusion

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.

Study Recommendations

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.

Article by

Ms Zaam Ssali

College of Natural Sciences

 

 

Continue Reading

Research

2022 Newton International Fellowships

Published

on

A male student studies on his laptop in the College of Computing and Information Sciences (CoCIS), Block B, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda.

The 2022 Newton International Fellowships will be awarded by two of the UK’s national research academies – the Royal Society, and the British Academy.

The Fellowships provide an opportunity for some of the most talented post-doctoral researchers working overseas to carry out world class research in UK institutions across all disciplines of natural sciences and engineering, social science, and humanities.

The Newton International Fellowship selects the very best early-stage post-doctoral researchers from all over the world and offers support for two years full time (or part time for health reasons or caring responsibilities). They provide grants of £30,000 per annum to cover subsistence and up to £8,000 per annum to cover research expenses, plus a one-off relocation allowance of up to £3,500. There is also financial support available for awardees dependants’ visas. The Fellowship also provides a contribution to overheads. In addition, Newton International Fellows may be eligible for follow-up funding of up to £6,000 per annum for up to 5 years following the completion of the Fellowship.

The deadline for applications is 16th March 2022 3PM UK Time.

Further information can be found on the following website https://royalsociety.org/grants-schemes-awards/grants/newton-international/

Enquiries about the Newton International Fellowships can be sent to info@newtonfellowships.org

Continue Reading

Business & Management

Commercialization of Agriculture Still Low in Uganda

Published

on

Dr. Susan Kavuma (5th L) and Mr. Emmanuel Keith Kisaame (7th L) with researchers and participants that took part in the dissemination on 19th January 2022 at CoBAMS, Makerere University.

A study conducted by researchers from the School of Economics, College of Business and Management Sciences (CoBAMS) has revealed that commercialization of Maize and Cassava is still low in the country. The findings are an outcome of a year-long study on commercialization of Agriculture in Uganda. The research was conducted by Dr. Susan Kavuma and Mr. Emmanuel Keith Kisaame, with funding from 50×2030 Initiative and International Fund for Agricultural Development.

The Northern region has been found to be the biggest commercial supplier of Cassava in the country, while maize is the biggest export crop in the country.

The study established that the level of commercialization among maize and cassava farmers is very low, estimated at 14 percent and 11 percent, respectively. Figures show that most Ugandans are still practicing subsistence farming of maize at 79.9% while 5.7% Ugandans are practicing semi-commercialized farming and only 14.4 % are engaged in commercial farming of Maize, the research reveals. When it comes to cassava, only 10.9% of the population is engaged in commercial farming while the bulk of the farmers 80.8% are subsistence farmers. Only 8.2% are semi-commercial farmers.

Dr. Susan Kavuma presents findings from the research.
Dr. Susan Kavuma presents findings from the research.

 “The Current National Development Plan III emphases agro-industrialization which can only be achieved with increased agricultural production and productivity,” Dr. Kavuma noted.

The central region has a higher level of commercialization because of factors including farm size, land productivity, land tenure among others. Dr. Kavuma said more farmers holding freehold titles were seen to participate more in commercialization as opposed to those holding customary and lease hold ones. The report notes that there are fewer women in commercialization of agriculture.

Speaking during the dissemination of the report at the College of Business and Management Sciences on January 19, 2022, the Principal, Prof. Eria Hisali thanked the researchers for their contribution to the field of knowledge and also thanked the International Fund for Agricultural Development for sponsoring the research.

The discussion, he said was timely because the country is grappling with challenges in the economy which include transforming the lives of Ugandans from a low income base to a high income economy. “Our target over the NDPIII period is grow the income of each house hold to Shs20 million a year including agricultural households,” he said. The Principal said this cannot be achieved without undertaking research in this sector.

Prof. Eria Hisali, the Principal College of Business and Management Sciences (CoBAMS).
Prof. Eria Hisali, the Principal College of Business and Management Sciences (CoBAMS).

“Commercialization of agriculture will ensure we get the needed agro mass input for industrialization.   Commercialization will help us create jobs at the household levels,” Prof. Hisali added.

Prof. Hisali advised the research team draft a policy paper which will feed into the ongoing discussions of how best to commercialize agriculture at the national level

He also asked the team to ensure they publish in an internationally recognized journal, which will enable the researchers reach a wider audience.

“We shall be happy to also see some of these findings informing the curriculum,” he concluded.

Mr. Emmanuel Keith Kisaame, one of the researchers that took part in the study funded by the 50x2030 Initiative and International Fund for Agricultural Development.
Mr. Emmanuel Keith Kisaame, one of the researchers that took part in the study funded by the 50×2030 Initiative and International Fund for Agricultural Development.

Commercialization of Agriculture remains low despite the fact that it is the backbone of many developing economies because of its role on employment, food security and linkages to other sectors such as industry.

Although agriculture continues to be the dominant employer (68%), major source of export earnings (54%) and providing raw materials to the manufacturing sector (40%), it remains mainly subsistence estimated at 52% (UBOS, 2021).

So the team set out to probe the factors affecting commercialization of agriculture and the low usage of agricultural date.

The research also showed that commercialization of maize production is influenced by the gender of the household head, regional location of the household, level of land productivity, type of soil and marital status.

Commercialization of cassava production on the other hand is influenced by the household size, land productivity and value of assets.

Continue Reading

Health

New Tools for Paediatric Evaluation of Disability Inventory in Children developed

Published

on

Dr. Angelina Kakooza, Associate Professor in the Department of Paediatrics, School of Medicine, College of Health Sciences (CHS), Makerere University.

Dr. Angelina Kakooza an Associate Professor in the Department of Paediatrics, School of Medicine, College of Health Sciences (CHS) conducted a study to adapt the Paediatric Evaluation of Disability Inventory (PEDI) for Uganda. The PEDI was originally developed and standardized to measure functional performance in American children. The study performed by Prof. Kakooza and the research team is the first of its kind conducted in sub-Saharan Africa. The study describes the adaptation, translation, and validation process undertaken to develop a culturally relevant PEDI for Uganda (PEDI‐UG).

Read more

Continue Reading

Trending