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Listening to Population Sentiments is Fundamental for New Vaccines Acceptability



Public health is concerned with protecting and improving the health of people and their communities by promoting healthy lifestyles, researching disease and injury prevention, detecting, preventing and responding to infectious diseases.

Immunisation as a public health intervention offers a critical opportunity to elevate mother and newborn health on the broader health and development agenda and catalyze progress towards sustainable development. It protects mothers, the developing fetus, and young infants during vulnerable time in their lives.Maternal immunisation not only boosts the mother’s immunity against dangerous pathogens, but a mother’s antibodies can be passed to her unborn baby in-utero through the placenta or through breast milk thereby protecting her and the baby from life-threatening illnesses. For new-born babies, these maternal antibodies provide essential protection during a “window of vulnerability” when infants are too young to get their own immunizations.

There is progress in development and accessibility to life saving vaccines. However, some communities in developed and developing countries still harbour suspicions about such interventions. This mistrust affects proper and timely uptake of new vaccines. Low-and-middle-income countries (LMICs) face challenges of misinformation and negative narratives around safety of vaccines and new medicines. Narratives like Africans are ‘guinea pigs’ for the western world have led to avoidance of life saving interventions. 

Community engagements improve health literacy through collaborative processes between stakeholders and communities to identify the needs and pursue corrective strategies. They facilitate equal participation where everyone shares information, perspectives, clarification of viewpoints and developing solutions. Communities are empowered to develop local solutions to achieve common goals and to overcome barriers.

Researchers at Makerere University Centre for Health and Population research (MUCHAP) conducted such engagements in Eastern Uganda to discuss issues around immunization programs, vaccine safety and introduction of new vaccines for pregnant women. Emphasis was on joint problem identification and analysis to craft a preferred state. Sessions were participatory and empowering for members, deepened understanding through listening, and common goals and action points were developed. Participants understood vaccine preventable illnesses as both infectious and non-communicable diseases with some not having any known vaccine.

Some of their sentiments on maternal and neonatal immunization, and introduction of new vaccines were legitimate while others were inaccurate: ‘new vaccines should be brought to market when it has no side effects’;‘it is important to save lives of pregnant women if the older vaccines have weakened, new vaccines are good for pregnant women because many get affected with several medical problems, new vaccines will fight against the increasing diseases which are harmful to the health of pregnant women like candida’; ‘it may reduce the number of pregnant women who undergo caesarean section during times of delivery’. Such views point to vaccine acceptability.

Negative opinions related to immunization of pregnant women included: ‘during the introduction of Hepatitis B vaccine, some people were told that the vaccine may prevent them from giving birth’;‘new vaccines may lead to delivery of deformed babies’, and ‘they want to deter young potential mothers from producing children to control population size and their children will not be pregnant in future through the introduction of new vaccines’.

The two major causes of infant deaths that disproportionately impact those living in LMICs are Group B streptococcus (GBS) and respiratory syncytial disease (RSV). No licensed vaccines currently exist against GBS, but work is underway to develop a vaccine that can begiven to pregnant women so that newborns are protected even before birth. On the other hand, the treatments available for RSV are limited but several vaccines are in development.

As we wait for the vaccines in pipeline, it is important to listen to communities through engagements. This will (a) correct the misinformation and negative narratives, (b) mitigate the spread of negative stories by some groups out of ignorance (c) improve health literacy, and (e) access organic information from those impacted by such interventions. If the negative narratives are not explained to clear false impressions, we risk avoidable vaccine preventable morbidities and mortalities now and in future.

By Dan Kajungu Msc. PhD
Lead Research Scientist and Director, MUCHAP
Vaccines and Medicines safety Researcher


MU-JHU Positions: Locum Midwives/Nurses – WOMANPOWER Study June 2021



Female staff at the Makerere University –Johns Hopkins University (MU-JHU) Research Collaboration Family Care Centre. Photo credit: MU-JHU

The Makerere University-Johns Hopkins (MU-JHU) Research Collaboration – MU-JHU CARE LTD, a Kampala – based equal opportunities Clinical Research and Service Delivery Organisation with more than 350 employees is seeking interested, committed and reliable professionals with the described qualifications to apply for the Locum positions listed below in support of the EDCTP funded studies. The positions are Locum positions on short term contract for 6 months.

1. Locum Midwife/Nurse: multiple positions
    Reports To: Nurse Coordinator
    Duty station: MUJHU, Kisenyi HCIV and Kawempe National Referral Hospital

Required qualifications and profile:

A Diploma in Midwifery/Nursing, with current registration for practice from the Uganda Nurses and Midwives councils (UNMC) with interest in working in a busy labour ward with minimum supervision. The candidates are required to have worked for at least three (3) years in a busy health centre/institution. Previous work experience in a clinical research environment and/or with HIV, TB and/or MCH clinical care would be a strong advantage. Computer literacy is required. The successful candidates should be willing and able to work extended duty shifts i.e. 12 hour day, and 12 hour night shifts, including public holidays and weekends.

The holder of this position will work under the direct supervision of the Nurse Coordinator with guidance from the Head of Nursing Section, and will be responsible for the following duties:

  • Working closely with other health professionals/research staff to obtain consents.
  • Provide midwifery/nursing care to study participants as well as do phlebotomy, cord blood sampling and other sample collection as required.
  • Collect data using tablets and laptops.
  • Participate in study data quality assurance and control.
  • Any other duties reasonably assigned by the relevant authorities.
  • Maintain professional GCP/HSP accreditation and complete study specific training as required.

Applications with complete C.Vs, including 3 referees and their full addresses or contact Telephone numbers, copies of academic certificates and testimonials, should be hand delivered to: MU-JHU Human Resource Manager, through the reception on first floor, MUJHU 1 Building – not later than 25th June, 2021 by 5.30pm.

Only short-listed applicants will be contacted. Successful candidates will be expected to start work immediately.

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Psychological Services for Community Members While Home



Female Students hold a group discussion at the Main Campus, Makerere University.

COVID-19 is a terrible disease that has brought about so many psychological challenges within the population but with many more effects to the students and the entire community. Already as students were departing yesterday they made remarks like “shall we ever finish?” “Let us go and get married” etc. They put on faces of sadness, anxiety, and many other forms of negative emotions. At their homes parents too some are having other challenges and anxieties that we need to help them deal with.

The Counselling and Guidance Centre is going to intensify its online presence as an avenue to reach out to the community. We shall do the following:

  1. With support from the College of Computing and Information Sciences (CoCIS) staff we developed an App UniCare which people can download and reach a counsellor of their choice via e-mail, telephone, chat etc at any time at their convenience.
  2. We intend to have a zoom session every fortnight addressing a topic of interest basing on the prevailing need.
  3. Yesterday we held a meeting with student leaders who promised to work with us to deliver any content we develop to students via students’ WhatsApp groups.
  4. We are going to have continuous engagements with students via the Counselling and Guidance Centre Twitter and Facebook accounts.

We lost a student (Byengyera Natasha) from the School of Law to suicide on Sunday and she will be buried tomorrow.

We want to do our best to provide all support possible using the avenues above to support members of the community and we call upon you to reach out to as many students as possible with this information. Thank you very much.

We build for the future.

Henry Nsubuga
Manager, Counselling and Guidance Centre,
Plot 106, Mary Stuart Road (Opposite Mary Stuart Hall),
Makerere University
Email: hnsubuga[at]
Tel: +256-772-558022

Click here for more information about the Counselling and Guidance Centre

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MakSPH Annual Report 2020



Dr. Rhoda Wanyenze, Professor & Dean, School of Public Health, Makerere University.

Dear Reader,

I am pleased to introduce our 2020 Annual Report, which illustrates the Makerere University School of Public Health, (MakSPH)’s shared commitment to advancing excellence in public health education, research, and innovation in Uganda and beyond.

In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the School of Public Health teams working together with the Ministry of Health and other partners moved fast towards enhancing the knowledge and awareness of our communities and other public health interventions to combat the spread of COVID-19 and mitigate a public health crisis that has thrown the world into disarray. We quickly adapted to the new normal, moving to working in a virtual environment and using blended approaches, to deliver our teaching, learning and research activities.

The pandemic has been a great challenge and slowed down several activities. However, this challenge has also propelled us towards fast-tracking some of our planned advancements including virtual
learning and partnerships, and has accelerated our public health innovations in a bid to contribute solutions to the current and future public health challenges.


Our research has focused on current issues to support evidence-based decision making, and mitigate the impact of the pandemic on essential health and other services, especially in vulnerable groups such as adolescents and children, refugees, among others.


In 2020, we embarked on construction of our new home that we hope will reduce the space constraints for our staff and students. I am happy to report that the construction is now under way at Makerere University Main Campus. We are sincerely grateful to our partners, sponsors and staff for the efforts towards this great move.

Community Engagement

Our teams have maintained a very active community engagement focus and working with various stakeholders to share research findings and support processes for knowledge translation. We have also maintained a high level of scientific research outputs including over 250 peer reviewed publications in 2020. I cannot thank our researchers enough for this great effort.


The number of partnerships, grants and volume of work at the School has grown within Uganda and the African region. We are very grateful to our funders; partners and stakeholders for this continued growth.

I acknowledge the extraordinary efforts made by all our staff, students and alumni. We look forward to another productive year and decade of better service to our communities.

Have a nice read.

Dr. Rhoda Wanyenze,
Professor & Dean, School of Public Health, Makerere University

Please Downloads for the full report.

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