Today, Wednesday 28th October 2020, we held a successful dissemination conference of the Carnegie-funded postdoctoral research training project titled “Nurturing Emerging Research Leaders through Post-Doctoral Training at Makerere University, NERLP”, 2017 – 2019. In his opening remarks, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, the Vice Chancellor and Chief Guest applauded the Carnegie Corporation of New York for being the one of the foreign partners that played a crucial role in the process of revitalization of Makerere University.
He reminded the participants that Carnegie support for Makerere goes as far back as 1943. The Vice Chancellor noted that over the last decade, a deliberate effort was made to build a critical mass of staff with PhDs. He noted that the postgraduate training and postdoctoral research has helped Makerere not only to nurture but also to retain its staff. Likewise, the beneficiaries of the travel and publication grants and the participants of the skills enhancement workshops have also come to develop a stake in the Makerere system. The international stature of Makerere has in the process been enhanced along with the deepening of Makerere’s linkages with partner research institutions.
Prof. Nawangwe appreciated that the postgraduate training and postdoctoral research under NERLP project has appreciably helped to strengthen the early-career academics’ research skills and turned many into research leaders that are capable of writing grant applications, publishing their research results, supervision and mentoring graduate students, and transforming society through policy dialogue.
This project’s architecture fits in well the current staffing constraints at Makerere University, because it was difficult to grant participants sabbatical study leave. It is for this reason that the fellows have conducted their research projects within the country with short research visits to regional Universities and research institutions and travel to disseminate research findings at international conferences.
The Vice Chancellor commended the project’s successes record including the increased the fellows’ capacity to carry out quality and relevant research at the University; improved research environment and retention of academic staff at the University; increased visibility of the University as a key policy influencer and adviser in Uganda and the region; improved publication culture contributing to better university ranking; and most importantly enhanced international exposure and opportunities for collaboration as a result of growth of international stature of Makerere University.
The workshop was graced by the former Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic Affairs) Prof. Ernest Okello-Ogwang, who gave a resounding keynote address on the importance of research leadership and the need to nurture early-career Faculty if Makerere University is to remain a premier University. Prof Okello-Ogwang emphasised the critical need to nurture the fresh PhD graduates by providing research funds to train them at Postdoctoral level. This, he noted, would enhance their research productivity and create a community of scholars with the potential to become leaders in their fields. This will in turn improve the quality of supervision, publication scholarship and contribute to the strategic direction of Makerere as a research-led university.
The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic Affairs) and current Chairperson of the Carnegie Project Implementation Committee, Prof. Umar Kakumba, observed that the success of the NERLP project has totally depended on the effort, talent, and energy of postdoctoral fellows who have written and submitted papers on a variety of topics. He paid special gratitude to Ms. Andrea Johnson, the Program Director, Higher Education and Research in Africa, International Programs, Carnegie Corporation of New York for her vision and strategic focus on research training in Africa.
The project has supported 15 teams to conduct research. These comprised of the Senior Mentor, the Postdoctoral fellow, and a Masters degree to conduct quality research. The support has included funds to conduct quality research; professional skills enhancement training courses; tuition and research costs for the masters degree student attached to the teams; mentorship and research team building; grants to enable fellows travel and disseminate their research results at International conferences; dissemination and outreach activities; maintenance and sustenance of web portal as a source of research information; and provision of funds for academic writing and publication.
All the 15 Postdoctoral fellows presented their research findings highlighting the key results (academic and innovations) and salient policy recommendations. Evidently, the project has had a great impact on
society, the University and the research community in different forms. We are proud of the 15 Postdoctoral fellows and wish them a rewarding research career as they transit into research leadership.
Please see Downloads for the NERLP Book of Abstracts
Professor Buyinza Mukadasi, Director, DRGT, Makerere University
The 2020 COVID-19 Non-Pharmaceutical Containment Measures – Adherence and Impact on Livelihoods in Rural Uganda
By Dr. Dan Kajungu and MUCHAP/IMHDSS Team
Uganda is currently experiencing a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic with an upsurge of cases. The country registered an 81% increase in the number of COVID-19 cases between March and April 2021, which indicates resurgence or another wave in the pandemic. From 200 cases per day in April, now the country is recording over 500 cases per day. The vaccines uptake has improved only recently, and the population has ignored the Ministry of Health (MoH) Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) meant to contain transmission. Since March 2021, when the COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccine was introduced, about 541,569 persons have so far been vaccinated.
On 6th June, new control measures were announced to mitigate the transmission. The Makerere University Centre for Health and Population Research (MUCHAP) which runs a longitudinal population-based cohort of Iganga and Mayuge districts (Iganga Mayuge Health and Demographic Surveillance Site) conducted a community survey to understand how citizens responded to the non-pharmaceutical interventional measures, and the impact on their livelihood. This survey was part of the routine community surveys that a typical health and demographic surveillance site conducts to understand the population dynamics in population cohorts. The hybrid survey involved about 2,000 households in rural and peri-urban settings using a questionnaire that adopted some questions from the Wellcome Trust COVID-19 tool. It was a hybrid of on-phone and physical interviews conducted between July and August 2020 right after the relaxation of restriction in Uganda. Community based surveys provide information on what to expect when piloting and implementing interventions in populations. In addition to the demographic and household characteristics, questions sought to understand the extent of community adherence to COVID-19 control measures and probed about the impact on socio-economic and access to health services.
Adherence to preventive measures: The survey found that 94% of the respondents adhered to COVID-19 non-medical control measures that were enforceable by security personnel. It was different for non-pharmaceutical measures that were largely dependent on individual enforcement or discipline and this averaged at 43% of the respondents. Six in ten respondents reported doing most of their work from home and half (50%) avoided seeking medical care at health facilities during lockdown.
The non-pharmaceutical guidelines included using preventive actions like social-distancing, hand washing with soap, the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizing gels as well as wearing of face masks. Citizens were encouraged to stay at home with the exception of essential workers who rendered critical services. Some community members could not adhere, not because they do not take it as a priority but because of the cost implications.
Socio-economic impact: There was change in the living arrangement in 12% of the households mostly because someone moved out or into the household. Community members reported a reduction (64%) in the income for household members with some experiencing a complete stop in earnings (6%). Residents in rural settings reported more reduction in income compared to Peri-urban residents (78% vs 74%). There are seemingly unique circumstances that need to be considered as interventions and decisions are made. For instance, it should not be surprising that a household cannot afford to have a bar of soap, a face mask, an alcohol-based hand sanitizing gel and social distance because of the living structures. In some cases, even accessing water is a luxury for some homes. There are some homesteads that are unable to grow food or earn an income from selling cash crops because they leased their pieces of land for large scale sugarcane growing 3 or 4 years ago, with just a house and a few feet of compound to spare. Unfortunately, such individuals have no access to social media where they can express their predicament.
The survey further found out that during the 2020 lockdown period, there was a general increase in violence against men, children, and women. There were cases of child neglect as well as marital problems. The survey found that 53% of the respondents reported increase in marital problems, while violence against women during the lockdown was reported by 51% of the respondents and was more common among rural residents compared to their Peri-urban counterparts. Residents could not access what they considered essential needs like transport and education services, which were directly affected by government directives and other community services. Communication was the most affected essential service reported.
Access to Health Services: 26% of the interviewed community members who were on daily medication due to a chronic or long-term condition reported running out of drugs during lockdown. Non-affordability due to the cost was the main reason in 54% of respondents, while 19% reported cases of stock-outs at both public and private health facilities and 10% were restricted by lockdown measures.
In another review of the immunisation records at Busowubi Health Centre III in Iganga district, it was clear that during the lockdown, utilisation of immunization services was severely affected (manuscript is undergoing peer review). Children did not complete their scheduled vaccine doses which calls for catch up vaccination drives. People could not go to health facilities because of fear of acquiring infection and restricted movements of boda-boda.
Please see Downloads for the detailed report.
Artificial Intelligence Capacity in Sub-Saharan Africa – Compendium Report
Makerere University in Uganda formed the AI & Data Science Research Group, which examines various areas related to AI and data science such as ML methods, computer vision and predictive analytics. The group has conducted research on automated diagnosis of crop and human diseases, auction design for mobile commodity markets, analysis of traffic patterns in African cities, and the use of telecoms and remote sensing data for anticipating the spread of infectious disease, to name a few.
Institution-specific research groups and activities
Robotics and Autonomous Intelligence
- The Robotics, Autonomous Intelligence and Learning (RAIL) Laboratory (Wits);
- Wits Institute of Data Science (WIDS) (Wits);
- Computational Intelligence Research Group (UP);
- Automating Robot Design for General Applications (University of Cape Town) (UCT);
- Guided Self-Organisation in Artificial Complex Systems (UCT); and
- Spatiotemporal models for Biosurveillance (Makerere).
Health and Biology
- Machine Learning for Cancer Detection (NUL);
- Nature Inspired Computing Optimisation Group (NICOG) (UP);
- Prediction of Co-infection of TB and HIV using Computational Intelligence Methodologies (UniSwa);
- An Expert System for Malaria Diagnosis Using Fuzzy Cognitive Map Engine (Best Paper Award) IEEE-IST Africa Botswana (UniSwa);
- Multi-Target Regression Prediction on Cervical Cancer for evaluation of Performance Measures (UniSwa);
- A Framework for Early di!erential diagnosis of tropical confusable diseases using the fuzzy cognitive map engine (UniSwa); and
- Machine learning-based detector for cervical cancer (Makerere).
Agriculture and Disaster management
- Early Warning System for Disaster Preparedness (MUST);
- Forecasting crops using drones (UWC);
- WineTech (UWC);
- Disease surveillance – mobile monitoring of crop disease (Makerere);
- Automated Malaria diagnosis (Makerere);
- Computational prediction of famine (Makerere);
- Auction design for agricultural commodity trading (Makerere); and
- A portable deep-learning-based diagnostic platform for passion fruit diseases (Makerere).
Click here to access the full report
Seed Grant for New African Principal Investigators (SG-NAPI)
The Seed Grant for New African Principal Investigators (SG-NAPI) was established in response to the needs of researchers in developing countries, particularly those attached to institutions that lack appropriate research facilities. Under this scheme, grants can be awarded for research projects in Agriculture, Biology, Chemistry, Earth Sciences, Engineering, Information Computer Technology, Mathematics, Medical Sciences and Physics to Principal Investigators in the African countries lagging in science and technology identified by TWAS, to enable them to purchase the research facilities they need to enhance their productivity.
The Seed Grant for New African Principal Investigators (SG-NAPI) aims to support early-career scientists in Sub-Saharan Africa, with particular emphasis on Least Developed Countries (LDCs).
Seed Grant for New African Principal Investigators (SG-NAPI) is fully funded by The German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).
- SG-NAPI Grants are awarded to high-level promising research projects in Agriculture, Biology, Chemistry, Earth Sciences, Engineering, Information Computer Technology, Mathematics, Medical Sciences and Physics carried out by Principal Investigators (PI) in the African countries lagging in science and technology identified by TWAS.
- Research Grants to research units amount to a maximum of USD 67,700.
- The grants, which are normally provided for a period of 24 months, may be used to purchase scientific equipment, consumables, which can include fieldwork and maintenance of equipment and specialized literature (textbooks and proceedings only). The grant does not cover salaries of the Principal Investigator or travel expenses unless they are clearly related to one of the conference and/or mobility components mentioned below. In addition, the purchase of laptops, tablets, drones and laboratory animals is not supported.
- Awarded PIs may also support MSc student as part of the project, request funding for international conference grant, industrial link grant, mobility grant and open access publication grant. Full details of each component are laid out in the guidelines.
- The programme has an additional component which seeks to enhance the productivity of female scientists returning to academia after a maternity leave, scientist-after-child grant. Full details of this component can be found in the guidelines.
VC's Diary2 weeks ago
University Closure Guidelines in Compliance With Presidential Directive on COVID-19
General2 weeks ago
RUFORUM: Transforming Higher Education Videos and Links
General2 weeks ago
4th Call For Applications: MURBS Departmental Ambassadors
Health2 weeks ago
Psychological Services for Community Members While Home