Substance abuse is one of the leading risk factors for high burden of disease globally. Although the highest levels of alcohol consumption are in Europe, Africa bears the heaviest burden of disease and injury attributed to alcohol.
According to the 2018 Global status report on Alcohol and health, the total Alcohol per capita for Uganda in the year 2016 was 9.5 compared to 6.3 for the whole Africa region.
Despite its significance to the public health burden in Uganda, these key risk factors have been largely neglected.
Compelled by a major interest in the prevention of alcohol and drug abuse in Uganda, Makerere University researchers carried out a study aimed at understanding the plight of alcohol and drug abuse in Rehabilitation Facilities in the Kampala Metropolitan Area.
In the project entitled; “Setting up an epidemiological Alcohol and Drug Abuse Surveillance System,” the researchers designed a tool for abstracting information from clients’ files, trained health workers on to fill the tool and how to enter the data in a data base and how to report about it.
The health workers and records officers were shown how they can produce monthly reports from the data. As a demonstration of benefits of such a system the researchers were able to establish trends and patterns of alcohol and drug use among the clients of these rehabilitation facilities.
According to the Principal Investigator Assoc. Prof. Nazarius Mbona Tumwesigye, the Alcohol, and Drug abuse surveillance system has the potential to establish the magnitude of the problem to advise policy development at the national level, guide local training, mobilize researchers and attract new research initiatives.
As part of their study findings, Dr. Mbona noted that alcohol and drug abuse are increasingly becoming a public health problem in Uganda as shown in spiking numbers of clients in 10 rehabilitation facilities. “The commonest substance of abuse was alcohol (52%) across the ten facilities in a period of eight months (November 2019 to June 2020),” reads in part, the key findings of the study.
The study was successfully executed with funding from the Government of Uganda through the Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund (Mak-RIF). The study team consisted of Assoc. Prof. Nazarius Mbona Tumwesigye, Assoc.Prof. Ponsiano Ocama, Dr. David Basangwa, Dr. Flavia Matovu, Dr. Catherine Abbo, Mr. Twaibu Wamala, Claire Birabwa, Cissie Namanda, and Ronald Twesigomwe.
Makerere University Research shows challenges facing Forcibly Displaced Persons (FDPs) with Chronic Disease in Northern Uganda
By Agnes Namaganda
Preliminary findings from a study by Child Health and Development Centre (CHDC) -Makerere University have revealed several challenges faced by Forcibly Displaced Persons (FDPs) with chronic diseases like diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular diseases. This study is specifically looking at FDPs in northern Uganda. Accessing food, water, medicine, clothing, toilet facilities, privacy and support is a challenge for healthy FDPs but for those with chronic diseases, these provisions may mean the difference between life and death.
According to Drs, Ritah Nakanjako and Esther Nanfuka Kalule, who are post-doc fellows at Makerere University, FDPs with chronic diseases are unable to access facilities with medicines. Speaking at the February monthly colloquium of CHDC, Dr. Nanfuka said, “Medicines and medical forms are sometimes forgotten by these patients yet some do not know the names of their medicines. For others, these medicines get finished along the way due to the abrupt movements.” These disturbances in the continuity of care affects their health and wellbeing.
As an example, she referred to the constant need to monitor blood pressure or blood sugar for these FDPs. “Even when facilities are available, you may not have the money to refill medicines or you may not remember the name of the medicine.” She added that the stress and trauma of this kind of situation usually exacerbates these conditions.
Speaking about the rationale for doing this research, Dr. Nakanjako said that non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are largely unrecognized and inadequately addressed in humanitarian settings, something which the Red Cross calls ‘a neglected crisis’. Yet, studies conducted among refugees and asylum seekers across the world report a high burden of NCDs. Uganda hosts over 1.5m refugees, the highest proportion in sub-Saharan Africa with the majority comeing from South Sydan.
“The objective of this study is to examine the experiences of FDPs- which will contribute to knowledge on innovative ways of chronic disease care. This will also contribute to the management of NCDs in humanitarian, low resource settings,” Dr. Nakanjako explained.
This 5-year study that started in 2022 will run till 2026 and is funded by the Novo Nordisk Foundation under the Mobility-Global Medicine and Research Fund. It is a collaboration between three institutions; Makerere University, the University of Copenhagen, Denmark and the Sudan Centre for Strategic and Policy Studies in South Sudan. This research is taking place in Nyumanzi Reception Center in Adjumani district; Nyumanzi Refugee Settlement also in Adjumani district; IDP Settlements in South Sudan; and the Bidi Bidi Refugee Settlement in Yumbe District.
Other challenges revealed by the FDPs with chronic diseases include the fear of drinking recommended amounts of water before or during travel to manage urine and to avoid stop-overs for security reasons.
After arrival at Nyumanzi Reception Centre in Uganda, these FDPs with chronic diseases do not receive any special care. It is only those with communicable diseases like TB. Cholera or Covid19 that get special care. Other challenges include; “a limited range of drugs, maintenance of cold chains for insulin, rationed water, lack of drinking water, lack of sanitary facilities and the congestion.
Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Short Course 2024
Did you know that with just a Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education (UACE) or its equivalent, along with at least 1 year of working experience in WASH, you qualify to join our Short Course in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene?
The Department of Disease Control and Environmental Health at Makerere University School of Public Health brings you yet another opportunity to enhance your skills and knowledge in Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene from for the 2024 intake, scheduled to run from 20th May to 12th July 2024.
Designed to equip practicing individuals with the necessary attitudes, skills, and scientific knowledge for effective WASH management, this course is open to officers with limited training in WASH and Environmental Health Practitioners seeking continuous professional development. For more details and application instructions, please refer to the attached course poster or visit the course website at https://sph.mak.ac.ug/academics/water-sanitation-and-hygiene-wash.
Apply before Thursday, 28th March 2024 for a rewarding learning experience!
Call for Abstracts: Annual Health Professions Education Scientific Conference
The Health Professions Education and Training for Strengthening the Health System and Services in Uganda Project (HEPI-SHSSU) at Makerere University College of Health Sciences (MakCHS) is organizing the Annual Health Professions Education Scientific Conference.
Venue: Hotel Africana, Kampala, Uganda
Conference Dates: 10th and 11th April 2024
Theme: Advances in Health Professions Education: Research, Innovations in Teaching & Learning, Quality Assurance
- Quality Assurance & Accreditation
- Health Professions Education Research
- Online Learning
- Innovations in teaching and learning
- Graduate Education in Health Sciences
- Simulation-Based Learning
Abstracts are welcome in any of the above areas for oral presentations, mini-workshops, thematic poster sessions, and didactic sessions.
We welcome abstracts from all people involved in the education and training of doctors, nurses, allied health professionals, students, health providers, and other stakeholders.
Abstracts should be structured into:
Background, Objectives, Methods, Results, Conclusion
For Education innovations: What was the problem, What was done, Results, and Conclusion (300-word limit).
Include the details of the corresponding author, the author(s), their contacts, and Affiliation.
Send your abstract to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Register today: https://hepi.mak.ac.ug/conference/
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