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Police Boss Asks Mak to Conduct Research on Impact of Air Pollution on Traffic Officers

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Commissioner of Police Niwabiine Lawrence, the acting Director Traffic and Road Safety in the Uganda Police Force has asked Makerere University to help conduct an investigation on the impact of air pollution on traffic officers in Uganda.

Niwabiine says on average, a traffic police officer spends a minimum of 6-8 hours on a particular spot directing traffic which is highly likely to affect the officers’ health.

“We need to have a comprehensive study on the impact of air pollution on our traffic police officers. We request you Makerere University to help us. Our traffic officers spend 6-8 hours on one spot directing traffic. But we get worried about the exhaust fumes they are exposed to. We don’t know what this could mean to their lives,” said CP Niwabiine.

He said this while presenting on The Role of the Media in Road Safety at a two and a half journalists’ training workshop on road safety in Uganda organized by the Makerere University School of Public Health at Hotel Africana in Kampala.

A total of 30 journalists and editors participated. This workshop aimed to increase the impact of the media in the prevention of road traffic crashes and injuries.

 CP Niwabiine urged journalists to acknowledge the challenges that traffic police officers go through at their work noting that the police is overstretched. He also highlighted that police officers are psychologically affected by many things including the poor living conditions as well as abuses they undergo while on the road.

Dr. Esther Buregyeya, an Associate Professor and Head of the Department of Disease Control and Environmental Health at Makerere University School of Public Health
Dr. Esther Buregyeya, an Associate Professor and Head of the Department of Disease Control and Environmental Health at Makerere University School of Public Health speaking to journalists at Hotel Africa during the media training on road safety.

welcomed the request citing that air pollution is now the leading cause of many diseases globally especially infectious and non-infectious diseases.

According to Dr. Buregyeya, exposure to air pollution is an occupational hazard for traffic police officers. She however adds that the whole population is at risk, especially in urban areas due to emissions from cars hence the need for a multi-sectoral approach. She notes that since the air pollution is complex issue that no one sector can address it alone. She calls for policies and frameworks to support working across sectors to address some of these issues.

“If you talk about the cancers, they are related to pollution, if you talk about TB, its infectious but also related to pollution, if you talk about asthma, hypertension etc. Research that is coming out shows that air pollution is a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases. So these are important areas to address in order to reduce the burden of disease in this country. It is not about only police officers that are affected by pollution,” Dr. Buregyeya said.

Dr. Buregyeya further notes that; “I believe doing research about this air pollution issue will provide the evidence needed that can inform policy and practice. Without evidence, it is difficult to cause change in the right direction and without policy our hands are tied.”

Dr. Olive C. Kobusingye, Senior Research Fellow PI, Trauma, Injury, & Disability Makerere University School of Public Health Distinguished Fellow, the George Institute for Global Health, Australia and Board Chair, the Road Traffic Injuries Research Network
Dr. Olive C. Kobusingye, Senior Research Fellow PI, Trauma, Injury, & Disability Makerere University School of Public Health Distinguished Fellow, the George Institute for Global Health, Australia and Board Chair, the Road Traffic Injuries Research Network speaking at the training.

Dr. Olive Kobusingye, who is also the board chairperson of the Road Traffic Injury Research Network, an international agency working to improve road safety through research globally, said Commissioner of Police Niwabiine’s request is an area that the School of Public Health continues to pursue to make sure that we don’t just look at roads as being a risk for injuries but also being a risk for other health conditions.

“CP Niwabiine brought in another component. His point was that law enforcers –traffic police officers who stand on the road for long hours and they consume fumes from cars and dust, sometimes 8hours at a time – there is a fear that this extreme exposure to pollutants is likely to affect their health,” Dr. Kobusingye a Senior Research Fellow Principal Investigator, Trauma, Injury, & Disability unit (TRIAD) at MakSPH said.

CP Niwabiine Lawrence, the acting Director Traffic and Road Safety in the Uganda Police Force engages Dr. Olive Kobusingye and media trainer Joachim Buwembo, from Uganda Radio Network.
CP Niwabiine Lawrence, the acting Director Traffic and Road Safety in the Uganda Police Force engages Dr. Olive Kobusingye and media trainer Joachim Buwembo, from Uganda Radio Network.

Research from Makerere University has already showed that there are very high levels of pollution along the roads.

Dr. Lynn Atuyambe, an air quality specialist and associate Professor at Makerere University School of Public Health says long-term exposure to high levels of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) is harmful to human health.

This PM2.5 comes from vehicle emissions, industrial emissions, household energy use, and windblown dust.

A study by the Eastern Africa GEOHealth Hub at Makerere University School of Public Health sought to establish the effects of COVID-19 lockdown on Air Quality in Kampala city by measuring ambient PM2.5 concentration using the Met One Instrument Inc.

The study team analysed data for three years (2018, 2019, and 2020) but paid special attention to the first six months (January-June) of 2020 which coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic period.

Dr. Lynn Atuyambe, an air quality specialist and associate Professor at Makerere School of Public Health together with MakSPH's research associate Samuel Etajak
R-L: Dr. Lynn Atuyambe, an air quality specialist and associate Professor at Makerere School of Public Health together with MakSPH’s research associate Samuel Etajak

“Our data revealed that air pollution has two main peaks in 24 hours of a typical day. The two peaks are at 09.00hrs and 23.00 hrs. This pattern is consistent in all the months under observation for the last three years (2020, 2019, and 2018) including the lockdown period.

A 2020 Health Effects Institute report shows air pollution was the 4th leading risk factor for early death worldwide in 2019, surpassed only by high blood pressure, tobacco use, and poor diet.

TRIAD team at MakSPH in a group photo withDr. Esther Buregyeya, an Associate Professor and Head of the Department of Disease Control and Environmental Health at Makerere University School of Public Health and a team of media trainers
TRIAD team at MakSPH in a group photo withDr. Esther Buregyeya, an Associate Professor and Head of the Department of Disease Control and Environmental Health at Makerere University School of Public Health and a team of media trainers
Some of the journalists who participated in the media training on road safety
Some of the journalists who participated in the media training on road safety in a group photo with media trainers and TRIAD team of MakSPH at Hotel Africa in Kampala.

Contact Davidson Ndyabahika, communications officer at Makerere University School of Public Health for more information on dndyabahika[at]musph.ac.ug

Article originally published by MakSPH

Health

Fostering Continuous Improvement of Public Health Laboratory Services In Uganda: IDI’s Contribution (2018-2020)

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One of the staff uses the Abbott m2000 RealTime System in the Core Laboratory (CL), IDI, Makerere University.

The Infectious Diseases Institute (IDI), Makerere University houses a state of the art laboratory – the Core Laboratory (CL) – certified by the College of American Pathologists (CAP) and accredited by the Uganda Ministry of Health (MoH) as a lead partner in strengthening laboratory systems.

In line with its 5-year (2018-2023) goal of ‘providing high-quality lab services at IDI to meet both clinical and research demands, to support the sustained improvement of lab capacity across Uganda with systems of assured and consistent quality’ to conduct routine testing, specialized clinical research trials, and detection of virulent pathogens of epidemic outbreak nature.

To match internationally standards for clinical laboratory methodologies and clinical applications, the CL has maintained a 25-year record of conducting at least 01 internal audit, 04 external audits annually, besides bi-annual inspections by the College of American Pathologists (CAP), to incorporate the latest best practices. Further, the CL continuously improves its technology and automation to increase productivity and enhance testing turnaround time (TAT).

The CL operates in a One IDI approach, where sister Technical Programs source its support, besides the Ministry of Health of Uganda, local and international academic research institutions and individual research fellows. The outbreak of COVID-19 in December 2019 was an opportunity for growth and expansion for the CL, to support national and global preparedness and response to infection prevention and control (IPC). To date, the CL has registered several milestones in enhancing disease laboratory TAT for COVID-19 testing, strengthening human capacity at the forefront on COVID-19 IPC, sustaining laboratory services for other communicable and non-communicable diseases as well as answering research questions.

Please see Downloads for the full technical brief.

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Health

UniCare App: 24/7 Access to Counselling

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UniCare App: 24/7 Access to Professional Counselling Services. Available on Google Play Store.

The Counselling and Guidance Centre (CGC) has developed UniCare, a counselling App for the Makerere University community members (Staff and Students).

Do you have personal concerns that need addressing?

Do you need to improve your life skills?

Are you struggling with something and need to talk to someone professional in confidence?

Then download UniCare from the Play Store and use it at any time of your convenience.

You can access counselling services through instant messaging, phone calls and other forms.

Enquiries:

Tel: +256-751-700897
Email: rbaguma[at]cit.ac.ug, henry.nsubuga[at]mak.ac.ug

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Health

Call for Applications: PhD Fellowships in Bioethics (4th Cohort)

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The Davies Lecture Theatre (Right), School of Biomedical Sciences (Blue) and other buildings at the College of Health Sciences (CHS), Mulago Campus, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda

Applications are invited for PhD fellowships in bioethics from Makerere University College of Health Sciences (CHS) faculty and individuals who participate in the academic activities of the college who are interested and COMMITTED to becoming bioethics scholars.

Successful applicants should be willing to become bioethics scholars as they work within the structured and mentored training programme with a focus on any aspect of international research bioethics related to Health Sciences. Funding will be available to support 2 successful doctoral candidates up to 3 years of accelerated training leading to the award of the Makerere University doctoral degree.

Eligibility

This training is open to faculty including people who contribute to teaching and research at Makerere University or one of its partner institutions in Uganda, who meet any of the following criteria:

a. Able to articulate a clear research bioethics problem of interest to them.
b. Demonstrate prior participation in bioethics, beyond having submitted research proposals to an IRB.
c. Demonstrate a basic understanding of bioethics in order to know that this is an appropriate next step for the applicant.
d. Demonstrate past active participation in bioethics in health service delivery or at the interface of health related ethical-legal issues
e. Provide evidence of experience in research in bioethics and or authorship in this field
f. Prior master’s level or fellowship level training in bioethics or related fields.

Criteria for Selection

  1. Demonstrated interest in doctoral research training and conducting research with a focus on
    research bioethics.
  2. Potential to handle rigorous academic requirements of the doctoral program.
  3. Having a plan for career development
  4. Capacity towards attaining research leadership and international recognition in bioethics.
  5. Female candidates and medical doctors are especially encouraged to apply

Application Process

Applications must be submitted to makbioethics[at]gmail.com and should consist of a cover letter (1 page only), a resume (not more than 3 pages), a personal statement (Maximum 1 page), a Makerere University formatted PhD research concept (Maximum 10 pages) and two letters of recommendation (sent separately by the referees to makbioethics[at]gmail.com). The personal statement should include your contribution to the academic and research life of a department at Makerere University College of Health Sciences, your aspirations for career progression in the next 5-7 years, research interests and any information you consider relevant.

Closing date for the receipt of applications is 8th October 2021.

Enquiries can be forwarded to the PI, of the PhD bioethics research training Program on makbioethics[at]gmail.com

Timelines:

  • Application deadline: October 8, 2021
  • Interviews: October 15, 2021
  • Notification date: October 22, 2021
  • Proposed start date: November 1, 2021

Part of this training will take place at Johns Hopkins University Berman Institute of Bioethics in the USA in Year 1 for a total of 2-3 months. Successful candidates will receive a monthly stipend based on USA National Institutes of Health regulations, tuition, research funds and travel to the USA. Applicants should demonstrate excellent communications skills and will be expected to work as part of a highly motivated, result oriented bioethics group.

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