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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Mak’s GMI Labs Authorized to Conduct DNA Paternity Testing
The Genomics, Molecular, and Immunology Laboratories (GMI Labs), operating under the auspices of the Makerere University Biomedical Research Center (MakBRC), have achieved another significant milestone in their journey of diagnostic excellence. The labs, renowned for their pivotal role in infectious and non-infectious disease research, have received official approval from the Director General Health Services at the Ministry of Health (MoH), Uganda, to conduct DNA Paternity Tests.
Situated at the Dept of Immunology & Molecular Biology under the School of Biomedical Sciences at the College of Health Sciences, Makerere University, the GMI Labs have been at the forefront of cutting-edge research, diagnostic testing, and training initiatives. Their remarkable contributions during the COVID-19 pandemic, where they conducted nearly a million PCR tests, underscored their unwavering commitment to public health and scientific advancement. The labs’ exemplary performance and reliability were further highlighted by their successful management of two critical COVID-19 prevalence surveys. The findings of these surveys served as foundational data for crucial decisions guiding the country’s lockdown strategies and phased reopening, earning commendation from the President and the Ministry of Health.
This latest authorization from the Ministry of Health marks a significant expansion of the GMI Labs’ diagnostic capabilities. With the approval to conduct DNA Paternity Tests, the labs are now equipped to offer a crucial service addressing the need for accurate and reliable genetic testing for determining biological parentage. In a letter dated 22nd November 2023, the Director General Health Services emphasized the laboratory’s rigorous adherence to international standards, proficiency in molecular biology techniques, and their proven track record in delivering precise and credible results. This approval further solidifies the labs’ position as a trusted institution for advanced genetic diagnostics in Uganda.
Prof. Moses L Joloba, the Director of the GMI Labs, expressed immense pride in the team’s dedication and expertise that led to this authorization. He highlighted the labs’ commitment to upholding the highest standards of ethical practice, confidentiality, and accuracy in DNA paternity testing, ensuring the delivery of dependable results crucial for legal, personal, and familial purposes.
The inclusion of DNA Paternity Testing within the GMI Labs’ list of services aligns with their overarching goal of advancing healthcare through state-of-the-art diagnostics, research, and education. This milestone represents not only a significant achievement for the labs but also a valuable resource for individuals seeking reliable and comprehensive genetic testing services. As the GMI Labs continue their unwavering commitment to excellence in healthcare and research, this new capability reaffirms their pivotal role in advancing the frontiers of molecular diagnostics and genetic testing in Uganda, working closely with reputable institutions such as Makerere University Hospital and other top-notch health facilities.
MNCH e-Post Issue 121: Learning from Nsambya Hospital Human Milk Bank to inform national scale-up & save preterm babies
Welcome to this exclusive interview with Prof. Peter Waiswa, lead expert from the Makerere University Centre of Excellence for Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health. Dr. Victoria Nakibuuka from St. Francis Nsambya Hospital, and Dr. Jesca Nsungwa from Ministry of Health Uganda. In this video, they discuss a groundbreaking innovation in Uganda’s healthcare landscape: the country’s first-ever human milk bank at St. Francis Hospital Nsambya. This initiative represents a significant stride towards improving the survival rates of premature and vulnerable infants by ensuring access to essential breast milk, even when mothers are unable to produce enough. Watch Video
METS Newsletter October 2023
The Monitoring and Evaluation Technical Support (METS) Program is a 5-year CDC-supported collaboration of Makerere University School of Public Health (MakSPH), the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) and Health Information Systems Program (HISP Uganda).
Highlights of the METS October 2023 Newsletter
- Strategies for Enhanced Disease Surveillance and Public Health Response in Uganda
- The MoH Department of Integrated Epidemiology Surveillance & Public Health Emergencies (IES&PHE) Head, Commissioner Allan Muruta (Dr) visited METS to acquaint himself with the various surveillance activities supported by the Program.
- Commissioner Muruta emphasized the need to build the capacity of districts and regions to conduct surveillance activities by training the relevant staff and establishing surveillance focal points at health facility levels.
- He further emphasized the importance of linking laboratory data to the District Health Information System (DHIS2) and ensuring that different systems are interoperable.
- Improving quality of data for HIV testing services (HTS) through regular assessments
- MoH has been conducting Data Quality Assessments and Improvement (DQAI) activities to inform program planning, monitoring, and performance management. HIV testing services (HTS) inter was conducted in 16 regions, 81 districts, and 111 health facilities in partnership with 26 Implementing partners.
- The HTS DQA has improved data management, infrastructure, and understanding of indicators. Specific staff assignment at each HTS entry point has proven effective, and use of the UgandaEMR system for reporting has yielded positive results.
- Shaping Uganda’s Healthcare Data Landscape
- METS has maintained a strong collaboration with the Ministry of Health (MoH) providing invaluable technical support in developing various strategic guidelines for the country. These guidelines include the Uganda Health Information Exchange and Interoperability (HIE) Guidelines, the Uganda Health Data Protection and Confidentiality (HDPC) Guidelines, and the Uganda Health Data Sharing, Access, and Use Guidelines.
- HIE and HDPC guidelines have received the endorsement of the Health Information, Innovation and Research (HIIRE) Technical Working Group (TWG), awaiting presentation to the senior management team at the MoH for final approval.
- Empowering Health Professionals: PrEP Training in Hoima District
- MakSPH-METS has taken a proactive stance in supporting Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) for key populations through the development, management, and conducting trainings on the use of the PrEP tracker system across various agencies.
- METS conducted a 5-day training on the KP/PrEP Tracker system in Hoima district. Moving forward, facility staff will be able to enter data on PrEP services into the system in a timely manner, analyze the data, and use it for program improvement.
- HIV testing services (HTS) Data Quality Assessments and Improvement DQAIs
- Interagency cervical cancer on-site mentorships
- Orientation in KP tracker-Soroti
- TDY from CDC headquarters visit to METS
- M&E orientation meetings for new Implementing Partners
- Planning meeting for Cross Border Data Sharing-Busia
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