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Involve Stakeholders in COVID-19 Vaccine Priority Setting, Mak Bioethicists urge Government

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By Joseph Odoi

As Uganda rolls out vaccines in an effort to kick out coronavirus, Bioethicists from Makerere University have urged Government to involve all stakeholders in priority setting for COVID-19 vaccination.

This call follows a latest study which sought to establish ethical and social issues for COVID-19 vaccination in the country.

While disseminating preliminary findings of the study titled ‘Ethical And Social issues for COVID-19 vaccine priority setting and access in Uganda’, Associate Professor Joseph Ochieng from the Department of Anatomy, College of Health Sciences (CHS), Makerere University said one of the most effective ways for public buy-in for new interventions is effective stakeholder engagement using the down-up model so that all stakeholders feel they have a say and their input is valued.

“When people are adequately involved in the decision making, they tend to adequately accept the results and take them up because they feel they own them. So we set out to access the different stakeholders whether they’re aware of the ethical issues associated with priority setting and how they’re going to handle priority of vaccine access in Uganda,” he explained while at Anatomy Department Building on 19th March, 2021. 

Prof. Ochieng further noted that there should a proactive, open (to the public) and evidence-based engagement of as many stakeholders as possible in these and related processes.

’This is important to build and sustain public support to and trust in health systems, all of which are critical in ensuring an equitable and efficient health system’’ he added

With regard to priorities, the Bioethicists state that since the quantities for the COVID-19 vaccine coming in are small, there should be a pre-determined evidence-based criterion for deciding who gets what first, and who should lose out or wait for the next opportunity

“Setting those priorities of who is vaccinated when has a number of ethical and social issues with questions.

We came up with this study to see how we can contribute to this issue of priority setting and vaccine access so that everyone feels it’s a fair process. If people believe it’s fair, then it’s ethical and acceptable and likely to be taken up,” Prof. Ochieng explained.

Findings

As Part of the preliminary findings, Dr. John Barugahare, Co-investigator and Senior Lecturer at Department of Philosophy, Makerere University said COVID-19 could be controlled by first attending to people who are likely to spread the disease like travelers; including truck drivers who have been associated with this disease whenever they traverse the country.

“We’ve heard from taxi drivers and conductors saying that they’re exposed to the risk of infections from passengers everyday by virtue of their work and they increase the risk of transmission to other passengers. However, they don’t understand why the elderly in rural areas are having priority over them,” he said.

Dr. Baruhagare further says that there is need to harmonize WHO immunization guidelines by setting priorities which fit into the local context as each country has its unique challenges.

Moving forward, the researchers recommend public engagement to create awareness on vaccination guidelines

“If the guidelines are developed, they should be freely available and well publicized. There should also be a continuous process of priority setting,” Prof. Ochieng noted.

“In future, such processes of setting priorities should be more open and transparent. There should be sufficient efforts to involve the public and seek opinions on what they think as opposed to having a few individuals to guide in the decision making process,” added Dr. Barugahare.

Funded by the World Health Organization (WHO), the study involved key informant interviews and in-depth interviews with a number of key stakeholders in COVID-19 intervention like bioethicists, clinicians, public health experts, policy makers, lawyers, human rights activists and scientists.

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Digital Health Payment Initiative and Research in Africa RFAs

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Digital Health Payment Initiative and Research in Africa (DHPI-R) Open Call for Request For Applications (RFAs). Deadline: 16th September 2022.

The Digital Health Payment Initiative and Research in Africa (DHPI-R), a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation-funded project that is implemented in Makerere University School of Public Health (MakSPH) and Université Cheikh Anta Diop de Dakar (UCAD) Senegal is thrilled to announce an OPEN CALL FOR REQUEST FOR APPLICATIONS. This will foster widespread, sustainable adoption and application of Digital Financial Service innovations within the health sector of low-and-middle-income countries (LMICs) in sub-Saharan Africa.

Focus Research Areas/ Research Themes

DHPI-R is seeking applications for studies that address the evidence gaps listed.

1) Campaign Effectiveness
2) Digital Financial Services’ effects on financial inclusion, safety, and security of payments
3) Health worker performance and retention
4) Payment experience and financial behavior

Funding Information

For any request made in this call, the budget goes as follows;
Large studies:12 months $200,000
Medium studies: 9 months $100,000
Small studies: 6 months $60,000

Eligibility

All Institutions within sub-Saharan Africa

Funding Restrictions and Terms

The award will be a fixed fee agreement, and the total amount of the award will be stated in the award letter. The funding is intended to support the collection, analysis, and dissemination of research. The allocation of program funds will directly correspond to the monetary figures presented in the final Budget and disbursement of funds will be initiated upon the timely receipt of invoices, financial reports, and expected deliverables.

How to Apply

Applications must be submitted in English or in French.

Applications must be submitted through our website: Submit applications here.

Application deadline: 16th SEPT 2022

Award decisions: All applicants will be notified of the outcome of their submission by 30th October 2022.

For more information and application details, see; Call for Request for Applications

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Call For Applications: ACHIEVE Training Program

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Students attend a lecture in the Davies Lecture Theatre, College of Health Sciences (CHS), Mulago Campus, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda

ACHIEVE provides trainees with dissemination and implementation (D&I) and data science research skills and knowledge through experiential learning, mentoring, and “hands-on” immersion in global health implementation and data science research and methodologies. ACHIEVE is a consortium of ten institutions: Washington University in St. Louis, Boston College, New York University, University of Illinois Chicago, University of Makeni, University of Kwazulu-Natal, University of Rwanda, University of Ghana, Makerere University, University of Nairobi.

Program Overview

  • One-year appointment at a research site in Sub-Saharan Africa or other partner site in a low and middle income country (LMIC)
  • Up to $10,000 in research project seed funding, a monthly living stipend, travel expenses covered
  • Mentored research training in global health, dissemination & implementation, and data science

Eligibility

Interest in applying D&I and data science methodologies in a global health area, with special focus on projects related to: children, adolescents, and their caregiving families; parenting; HIV/AIDS; mental health; cancer; nutrition; and environmental health.

See flyer below for more details on eligibility

Application Information

  • Please email Laura Peer at lpeer@wustl.eduto express interest
    • Letter of Intent (LOI) due September 1, 2022
    • Full Application (2ndPhase—by invitation only) due November 1, 2022
    • For more information visit https://sites.wustl.edu/achieve/

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CHS Annual Report 2021

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Professor Damalie Nakanjako, Principal, Makerere University College of Health Sciences (MakCHS).

I hereby present to you the Makerere University College of Health Sciences (MakCHS) annual report for 2021. This report provides an overview of activities at MakCHS under our mandates of teaching and learning, research, and service delivery during 2021.

The MakCHS continues to lead the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic through case management, research on advances in SARS-COV2 prevention and treatment intervention, as well as supporting faculty and students to adapt to the new learning environment of blended approaches to sustain teaching and learning activities during the COVID-19 pandemic period. I wish to congratulate MakCHS staff and students upon the resilience exhibited through the COVID-19 pandemic and emerging stronger, with various approaches to blended learning to complement the clinical/practical training approaches.

It is my pleasure to congratulate all staff who have received promotions, new research fund awards and publications during this period. You continue to raise the bar of the College of Health Sciences as we strive to lead in providing transformational education and research to improve service delivery and well-being of all the communities we serve. I extend my gratitude to all our stakeholders including but not limited to all MakCHS staff, students, alumni, collaborators, partners, funders, patients, and doctors for the exemplary multi-disciplinary teams that continue to deliver high quality education and health care programs.

Our major challenge remains to innovate, develop, produce, and sustain local solutions to emerging global health challenges including the large burden of emerging and re-emerging infections as well as the burden of non-communicable diseases.

I therefore urge all faculty and students to seek and grab all opportunities for each one to utilise their role in this space as we advance science initiatives to impact lives in Uganda, Africa and globally. On behalf of the leadership at MakCHS, I pledge our unwavering efforts to provide all relevant support to facilitate you to achieve your career dreams for 2022 at MakCHS.

Professor Damalie Nakanjako MBChB, MMED, PhD
PRINCIPAL

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