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Six MakSPH Early Career Scholars Receive Seed Research Funds

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Six early-career scholars at the Makerere University School of Public Health have been awarded funding to support their research.

Cycle three (3) of the MakSPH Small Grants Program has six awardees that are: Rawlance Ndejjo, Solomon Wafula, Dr. Arthur Bagonza, Frederick Oporia, Catherine Ninsiima, and Bonny Enock Balugaba.

Each of the awardees is to receive up to US$5000 (about 18 million Uganda Shillings) for the research. The awards were announced by Dr. David Musoke, the newly appointed Grants and Research Capacity Building Committee chairperson in a virtual 32nd Meeting of the Committee held on Tuesday, March 23, 2021.

Representing the Seed Grant recipients, Mr. Rawlance Ndejjo, a Ph.D. Student and Research Associate at the School hailed the School management for the initiative towards supporting early-career scholars to grow their research capacity.

“On behalf of the recipients of this third round, I want to thank you. A big thank you to the Grants and Research Capacity Building Committee for awarding us these grants. It’s an honor. It’s always very nice to wake up to such good news. We want to thank you for giving us funding to implement some of our ideas,” Ndejjo said.

He also thanked the School Management and the Dean for starting this initiative to support young researchers.

“This will be a big stepping stone for us as we look forward to winning other grants. I also want to congratulate my colleagues for getting this far and I promise that we shall work as a team to move the different research agendas forward,” Mr. Ndejjo said.

On her part, Dr. Rhoda Wanyenze, Professor and Dean, MakSPH congratulated the team of six researchers for emerging winners of the 3rd round of the seed grants from the School.

“They are seeds to grow our individuals and young faculty, our stars for tomorrow. They are also seeds because they are growing new areas of research where we are not doing as much as we ought to. But they are also seeds because they are growing us as a School,” Prof. Wanyenze said.

The Dean also appealed to the grantees to exhibit professionalism, ethics, and accountability.

“When you receive a seed, please do not eat it. This is meant to grow. Please make sure that it grows in various directions. Make sure that it grows you as an individual, and the subject of research you are going to work on. In other words, do a good study, look out for other grants that you can apply for to move that agenda forward, and also make sure that it grows the School. We are looking up to you and hopefully, this seed grant can add value to you all,” Prof. Wanyenze added.

Overall, a total of 11 applications were received but six were successful. Dr. David Musoke congratulated the grantees on the awards and encouraged them to conduct good quality research so as to be a stepping stone for better things in the future.

The studies:

Mr. Solomon Tsebeni Wafula, a Research Associate, Department of Disease Control and Environmental Health at MakSPH will be assessing the indoor air quality, risk factors, and potential health effects among residents in an urban informal settlement, Uganda.Solomon Wafula

Meanwhile, Mr. Rawlance Ndejjo, a Research Associate in the Department of Disease Control and Environmental at MakSPH Health will be studying the lifestyles of slum dwellers in Kampala with particular interests in cardiovascular diseases.Rawlance

Also, Dr. Arthur Bagonza, a veterinarian and public health fellow at MakSPH will be investigating the effect of COVID-19 on pediatric fever treatment among registered private drug sellers in East Central Uganda.Arthur Bagonza

Mr. Frederick Oporia, an Injury Epidemiologist and Research Associate in the Department of Disease Control and Environmental Health will be expanding his research on preventing drowning. Frederick

Mr. Oporia will be particularly investigating the effectiveness of Lifejackets used by boaters on Lake Albert, Uganda in the prevention of drowning.

With this funding, Catherine Ninsiima, a research associate at MakSPH will be undertaking a study on adherence to dietary approaches to stop hypertension diet and factors associated with adherence amongst hypertensive patients attending Uganda Heart Institute, Mulago Hospital.catherine

Bonny Enock Balugaba, a Research Associate in the Department of Disease Control and Environmental Health at MakSPH will be investigating the effect of lockdown measures on traffic injuries in Kampala.Bonny

Professor David Serwadda, the out-going chairperson of the Grants and Research Capacity Building Committee said the launch of the Small Grants, which was passionately championed by Professor Rhoda Wanyenze’s leadership, is one of the exciting achievements of the Committee.

“This resulted from our strategic planning where we realized that the young faculty members probably do not have many opportunities to engage in research,” Prof. Serwadda.

The Small Grants Program was initiated in 2018, and the committee was interested in public health fields that had initially been neglected. Later, the first cohort of grantees was awarded in 2019 and the second in 2020.

“This has been really very exciting for the young faculty. Recently, we had an evaluation of this program and it is extremely important that we continue this scheme. Despite the fact that funding from the Makerere Research and Innovations Fund (Mak-RIF) is available, we feel this is still very important for the School of Public Health,” Prof. Serwadda observed.

Already two peer-reviewed articles have been published in public health journals and about four are in advanced stages. This means that all the initial grantees will most likely publish with this support. “This program is intended to increase publications especially from the young faculty in the School. The grants are very successful and should be encouraged to continue,” Prof. Serwadda says.

Article originally published on MakSPH

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MU-JHU Position: Training & Development Coordinator

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Participants in the two-day MU-JHU hybrid meeting discuss the upcoming IMPOWER-022 study, the HPTN 084 DSMB results and the changing landscape of HIV Prevention studies in Uganda, April 2021.

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 position of Training & Development Coordinator.

Training & Development Coordinator – 1 position Description and purpose:

The successful candidate has overall responsibility to plan and administer programs to ensure that employees have the skills and knowledge to compete effectively and meet the organization’s business objectives including direct training as well as support to content specialist trainers. The successful candidate will be responsible to liaise with middle management to identify training needs and support talent retention and development strategies with senior management.

Required qualifications and profile:

The successful candidate will be an experienced professional with hands on experience coordinating training and development programs in a large corporate setting, preferably in a similar health and/or research environment. The ideal candidate must possess a minimum of Bachelor’s degree in Education, Training, with a post graduate degree in HRM or a Bachelor’s degree in Human Resources Management. A relevant Masters level degree is desirable. The candidate should have proven ability to complete the full training cycle (assess needs, plan, develop, coordinate, monitor and evaluate) and experience with e-learning platforms and direct adult training and train the trainer methods, including on-the-job coaching and mentorship programs. The ideal candidate must have a minimum of 3 years’ experience working as a HR practitioner. Experience working in a health related research organization will be an advantage. The candidate should be MS Office proficient in MS Office packages. The ideal candidate should possess advanced organizational skills with the ability to handle multiple assignments and strong written and oral communication skills as well as emotional intelligence.

The holder of this position will work under the supervision of the Human Resources Manager and will be responsible for the following duties:

1. Develop a robust training policy and related procedures for the organization

  • Conduct organization-wide training needs assessment and identify skills or knowledge gaps that need to be addressed
  • Mapping out training plans and schedules, designing and developing training programs (outsourced or in-house)
  •  Source for training opportunities to enhance staff performance including advanced training for individuals and participation in grant writing for training/capacity development grants
  •  Assess training effectiveness and determine the impact of training on employee skills and KPIs Maintain an updated training database
  •  Ensure planning, monitoring, and appraisal of employee work results by training managers to coach employees.

2.  Support the HR team carry out HR operational requirements.

Applications with complete C.Vs, including 3 referees and their full addresses or contact Tel No.’s, copies of academic certificates and testimonials, should be hand delivered to: The Human Resources Manager, through reception Room 10, located in MUJHU 1 Building or sent by email (application should not exceed 15MBs) to hroffice@mujhu.org – not later than 30th April, 2021 by 5:30p.m. Only short listed applicants will be contacted.

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World Health Day 2021 – Op-Ed by H.E. Veestraeten & Prof. Wanyenze

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The Dean, Makerere University School of Public Health (MakSPH)-Prof. Rhoda Wanyenze addresses participants at the EVAWG Bazaar on 6th December 2018, ResilientAfrica Network (RAN) Innovation Lab, Plot 30, Upper Kololo Terrace, Kampala, Uganda

As we mark World Health Day 2021, the Ambassador of Belgium to Uganda, H.E. Rudi Veestraeten and the Dean, School of Public Health, Prof. Rhoda Wanyenze co-authored an Op-Ed in line with the theme; Health Equity, a fairer and healthier world.

“Health is critical and especially now, with COVID-19 so World Health Day should receive more attention” remarked Prof. Wanyenze.

Please click the link below to access the full Op-Ed

https://uganda.diplomatie.belgium.be/sites/default/files/content/download/files/world_health_day_2021_op-ed.pdf

The same has been published on Page 18 of the New Vision, Wednesday, April 7, 2021 under the Comments & Letters Section

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Mak Unveils C-19: COVID-19 Mobile Contact Tracing App

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Project Principal Investigator, MakSPH's Dr. Harriet Babikako (2nd R), the Department of Pediatrics and Child Health's Dr. Ezekiel Musasizi (1st R) and Dr. Ezekiel Mupere (1st L) and Mr. Haron Gichuhi (2nd L) after the application launch at Child and Family Foundation Uganda Offices, Kampala.

By Joseph Odoi

As government strives to reduce community spread of the novel coronavirus, Makerere University researchers have developed a mobile application that digitizes the investigation, case, and contact tracing for COVID-19 in communities.

With Funding from Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund (MakRIF) and Partnership from Child and Family Foundation Uganda and Ministry of Health, the application is designed to investigate case and contact tracing for COVID-19, timely reporting and decision making to improve the efficiency of COVID-19 response and capture community feedback.

While launching  the application under project titled ‘’C-19’’, Dr. Harriet Babikako  the Project lead  said her team was inspired by the need to  address the existing challenges of trekking long distances for hours to ascertain information in regards to suspected or even confirmed cases of COVID-19, delayed communication and  responses, loss of contact lists and transcription errors .

“Currently, Community surveillance teams have to trek distances for hours to go and find information from suspected or even confirmed cases. Therefore, challenges such as incomplete identification of contacts, delays in communication, and response, loss of contact lists, inadequate data collection, and transcription errors exist, making the system slow, and inefficient. Thus information exchange between involved parties is too slow and expensive because, by the time a response is generated, the disease is spreading. This means the spreading of COVID-19 is not solved efficiently” she explained in a zoom session on Tuesday 30th March 2021.

Dr. Harriet Babikako-the Project lead delivers her remarks at the Application launch.

As part of the features, the application has various COVID-19 self-assessment components on its Epi -COVID Tracer Dashboard. This enables the app user to undergo self-screening or screen others using different prompts.

The application also boasts of support services that include COVID-19 Laboratories and hospitals all authorized by Ministry of Health. One can consult Private Doctors and Counsellors on the App through WhatsApp or other call options.

In terms of reservation, the application system enables one to book for a COVID-19 test from the nearest authorized laboratories .This is done by filling a lab booking form which locates the test center near you.    Additionally, it also enables different user’s right from Community, VHTs District Task Force DTF and National Task Force NFT by filling the contact tracing form.

An interface of the C-19 Mobile Contact Tracing App

On the relevance of the app to School going students, Haron Gichuhi a health informant and Co-Investigator of the project; said this mobile application empowers health workers within schools to appropriately screen students and allows them to manage/refer probable cases of COVID-19.

“Now that schools are open, School nurses can use the application to carry out tests and refer students to nearest laboratories with in their proximity.

“The application also gives the students their COVID-19 status and advises them on preventive methods like self-isolation” noted Dr. Gichuhi of the ambitious innovation which took 6 months to create

On cost effectiveness, the researchers say the app addresses the concept of high costs to government. This is because the application is available to communities like market vendors, schools, individuals.

On uniqueness of the mobile innovation, the researchers cited decision making, quick scanning of information, case management and peer checking for other colleagues as special qualities ingrained in the application.

With this app, one can  book a COVID-19 test with MOH authorized Laboratories and hospitals on the application and also  consult a private doctor or a private counsellor. This can be done within any citizen’s comfort with just a click on their phone.

Mr. Ezekiel Musasizi from Department of Pediatrics and Child Health, Makerere University, (Co-investigator) says the team is in the process of translating the app to different languages to cater for all classes of society

In her final remarks, Dr. Harriet Babikako thanked Ministry of Health, Partnership from Child and Family Foundation Uganda and the Government of Uganda efforts towards supporting research and innovation through Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund (MakRIF). The launch attracted virtual participants from academia, non-government organizations, students, development partners, the media and Ministry of Health.

MORE ABOUT PROJECT TEAM

The C-19 Project was implemented by researchers and innovators from Makerere University with funding from Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund (MakRIF).

The Project /innovation team includes; Dr. Harriet Babikako from Makerere University School of Public Health (Principal Investigator), Dr. Vincent Michael Kiberu (Co-Pi) and Dr. Ezekiel Mupere (Co-Pi) from Department of Pediatrics and Child Health and Mr. Haron Gichuhi (Co-PI and Health Informant).

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