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.
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 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.
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.
“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.
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
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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