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IDI supports Rakai COVID-19 Taskforce

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Dr. Mohammed Lamorde, the head of the Global Health Security Programme at the Makerere University Infectious Diseases Institute (IDI) accompanied Dr. Allan Muruta the Commissioner Integrated Epidemiology, Surveillance and Public Health Emergencies, Ministry of Health (MOH) on a two-day support supervision visit to Rakai district last week. IDI recently joined Rakai Health Services Program (RHSP), another Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)-supported implementing partner to work in the region on COVID-19 surveillance. IDI has since mentored 651 VHTs in COVID-19 surveillance for Rakai and Kyotera districts.

Fourteen Task Force members in Kyotera district were also trained and an alert management system established.

Christine Zawedde, the Kyotera cluster coordinator from RHSP, said three out of four districts in her cluster have reported local transmission.

The district leadership was advised that all the measures by partners are aimed at keeping the pandemic at bay until a vaccine has been discovered and rolled out. Rakai's borders with Tanzania are porous and community transmission remains an imminent threat to the work done so far by the COVID-19 task force.

The district task force was lauded for promptness in diagnosis, which was said to be the reason Uganda has continued to present good reports in comparison to her neighbours. The team was encouraged to continue strengthening the COVID-19 surveillance and create a buffer of the region.

Dr. Lamorde encouraged the task force to engage the Call for Life Interactive Voice Response (IVR) programme run by the Academy for Health Innovation within IDI for patients who have been released from quarantine.

“The system helps with triage as only the clients who are in the most danger or present a risk to the community will be followed up by health workers. This will help solve the issue of transportation to monitor clients after release,” he said.

As part of the national response in the fight against COVID-19 in Uganda, the Academy for Health Innovation is working tirelessly through a partnership between IDI and MOH. Through this agreement, a team of software engineers and medical professionals have developed a pilot project that will facilitate the management of the large numbers of COVID-19 patients. This pilot project is an adaptation of the Call forLife (C4Life) project that has successfully facilitated the management of Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS patients. It uses basic mobile phones (Katorch) through a voice automated call system known as IVR; a computer assisted patient management system. It is accessible, easy to use and has the potential to be widely applicable. lt is an intelligent technological health innovation that supports front line workers to track all COVID-19 patients; these include recovered patients, those that have left quarantine and contacts of the patients.

MOH is already tracking over 240 people who have completed their mandatory quarantine using this system. These individuals have begun receiving these voice automated calls to monitor their conditions such that they can self-evaluate and report any symptoms.

By Tracy Ahumuza, Corporate Communications Specialist, IDI

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Fostering Continuous Improvement of Public Health Laboratory Services In Uganda: IDI’s Contribution (2018-2020)

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One of the staff uses the Abbott m2000 RealTime System in the Core Laboratory (CL), IDI, Makerere University.

The Infectious Diseases Institute (IDI), Makerere University houses a state of the art laboratory – the Core Laboratory (CL) – certified by the College of American Pathologists (CAP) and accredited by the Uganda Ministry of Health (MoH) as a lead partner in strengthening laboratory systems.

In line with its 5-year (2018-2023) goal of ‘providing high-quality lab services at IDI to meet both clinical and research demands, to support the sustained improvement of lab capacity across Uganda with systems of assured and consistent quality’ to conduct routine testing, specialized clinical research trials, and detection of virulent pathogens of epidemic outbreak nature.

To match internationally standards for clinical laboratory methodologies and clinical applications, the CL has maintained a 25-year record of conducting at least 01 internal audit, 04 external audits annually, besides bi-annual inspections by the College of American Pathologists (CAP), to incorporate the latest best practices. Further, the CL continuously improves its technology and automation to increase productivity and enhance testing turnaround time (TAT).

The CL operates in a One IDI approach, where sister Technical Programs source its support, besides the Ministry of Health of Uganda, local and international academic research institutions and individual research fellows. The outbreak of COVID-19 in December 2019 was an opportunity for growth and expansion for the CL, to support national and global preparedness and response to infection prevention and control (IPC). To date, the CL has registered several milestones in enhancing disease laboratory TAT for COVID-19 testing, strengthening human capacity at the forefront on COVID-19 IPC, sustaining laboratory services for other communicable and non-communicable diseases as well as answering research questions.

Please see Downloads for the full technical brief.

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UniCare App: 24/7 Access to Counselling

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UniCare App: 24/7 Access to Professional Counselling Services. Available on Google Play Store.

The Counselling and Guidance Centre (CGC) has developed UniCare, a counselling App for the Makerere University community members (Staff and Students).

Do you have personal concerns that need addressing?

Do you need to improve your life skills?

Are you struggling with something and need to talk to someone professional in confidence?

Then download UniCare from the Play Store and use it at any time of your convenience.

You can access counselling services through instant messaging, phone calls and other forms.

Enquiries:

Tel: +256-751-700897
Email: rbaguma[at]cit.ac.ug, henry.nsubuga[at]mak.ac.ug

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Call for Applications: PhD Fellowships in Bioethics (4th Cohort)

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The Davies Lecture Theatre (Right), School of Biomedical Sciences (Blue) and other buildings at the College of Health Sciences (CHS), Mulago Campus, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda

Applications are invited for PhD fellowships in bioethics from Makerere University College of Health Sciences (CHS) faculty and individuals who participate in the academic activities of the college who are interested and COMMITTED to becoming bioethics scholars.

Successful applicants should be willing to become bioethics scholars as they work within the structured and mentored training programme with a focus on any aspect of international research bioethics related to Health Sciences. Funding will be available to support 2 successful doctoral candidates up to 3 years of accelerated training leading to the award of the Makerere University doctoral degree.

Eligibility

This training is open to faculty including people who contribute to teaching and research at Makerere University or one of its partner institutions in Uganda, who meet any of the following criteria:

a. Able to articulate a clear research bioethics problem of interest to them.
b. Demonstrate prior participation in bioethics, beyond having submitted research proposals to an IRB.
c. Demonstrate a basic understanding of bioethics in order to know that this is an appropriate next step for the applicant.
d. Demonstrate past active participation in bioethics in health service delivery or at the interface of health related ethical-legal issues
e. Provide evidence of experience in research in bioethics and or authorship in this field
f. Prior master’s level or fellowship level training in bioethics or related fields.

Criteria for Selection

  1. Demonstrated interest in doctoral research training and conducting research with a focus on
    research bioethics.
  2. Potential to handle rigorous academic requirements of the doctoral program.
  3. Having a plan for career development
  4. Capacity towards attaining research leadership and international recognition in bioethics.
  5. Female candidates and medical doctors are especially encouraged to apply

Application Process

Applications must be submitted to makbioethics[at]gmail.com and should consist of a cover letter (1 page only), a resume (not more than 3 pages), a personal statement (Maximum 1 page), a Makerere University formatted PhD research concept (Maximum 10 pages) and two letters of recommendation (sent separately by the referees to makbioethics[at]gmail.com). The personal statement should include your contribution to the academic and research life of a department at Makerere University College of Health Sciences, your aspirations for career progression in the next 5-7 years, research interests and any information you consider relevant.

Closing date for the receipt of applications is 8th October 2021.

Enquiries can be forwarded to the PI, of the PhD bioethics research training Program on makbioethics[at]gmail.com

Timelines:

  • Application deadline: October 8, 2021
  • Interviews: October 15, 2021
  • Notification date: October 22, 2021
  • Proposed start date: November 1, 2021

Part of this training will take place at Johns Hopkins University Berman Institute of Bioethics in the USA in Year 1 for a total of 2-3 months. Successful candidates will receive a monthly stipend based on USA National Institutes of Health regulations, tuition, research funds and travel to the USA. Applicants should demonstrate excellent communications skills and will be expected to work as part of a highly motivated, result oriented bioethics group.

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