Connect with us


New Research Affirms Need to Engage Communities During Pandemics



By Racheal Ninsiima 

Early on in the COVID-19 pandemic, anecdotal reports in popular media suggested that there was low risk perception of the disease among communities and hesitancy to implement prevention and mitigation measures. The Government of Uganda mostly employed a top-down approach in implementing COVID-19 prevention and mitigation measures, with limited meaningful community engagement as part of the response. Consequently, this left many people unconvinced about the existence of the pandemic and relevance of the mitigation measures. As such, there was negative perception of the mitigation measures and a reluctance to implement them.

These observations were revealed in a new study titled: ‘Owning our future through community engagement: enhancing uptake of COVID-19 prevention and mitigation measures’ whose research findings were disseminated on 3rd August 2021 at Makerere University’s College of Health Sciences (MakCHS). The study was conducted between November 2020 and January 2021 by a team of researchers led by Prof. Nelson Sewankambo as Principal Investigator. Others were: Dr. David Kaawa-Mafigiri from Makerere University’s College of Humanities and Dr. Daniel Semakula from MakCHS. The study, conducted in Nakawa and Kawempe divisions of Kampala, aimed to assess the prevailing attitudes and perceptions towards COVID-19 mitigation measures; the likelihood of accepting a potential COVID-19 vaccine and the impact of the disease on livelihoods among vulnerable populations in Kampala. It was funded by the Government of the Republic of Uganda through the Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund (MakRIF)

During the dissemination, Prof. Sewankambo told participants that since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in Uganda, there has hardly been any community engagement to empower individuals, households and communities to take charge of their health and social wellbeing.

“We know that community engagement was a success feature in controlling the Ebola Virus Disease epidemics in Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo and West Africa. However, the impact of community engagement in the COVID-19 pandemic is unknown for policy and action,” Prof Sewankambo said. 

Therefore, the study hypothesized that the success of any measures against the COVID-19 pandemic required community participation, ownership and sustainability of the efforts at grassroots levels.  

Key Findings 

Using survey questionnaires, household conversations, focus group discussions and in-depth interviews, over 1,200 men, women and children aged above 12 in 858 households were examined. Survey results indicate that majority of the participants were aware of COVID-19 prevention measures with use of face masks being most renown (n=768 (90.57%)) followed by handwashing (n=743 (87.62%)). Others were: use of an alcohol-based sanitizer (n=537 (63.33%)), avoiding crowds (n= 491 (57.9%)), staying at home (n= 355 (41.86%)) and avoiding physical greetings (n=326 (38.44%)).

However, despite being aware of these prevention measures, Dr. Semakula reported that adherence substantially reduced by month eight of the pandemic. For example, majority (n= 675 (80%)) did not wear masks at all, or wore them inappropriately such as under their chins, or foreheads or partially covering the mouth by month eight of the pandemic. Similarly, only a small fraction (n=130 (15.6%)) of participants washed their hands (with or without soap) regularly when the opportunity presented, e.g., after greeting visitors, touching unhygienic objects, or visiting washrooms. 

Read more

Please click the embedded video below to watch proceedings of the research dissemination

Mak-RIF Research Dissemination: Owning our Future through Community Engagement


Digital Mobile Technologies to Study Tuberculosis: A Multi-Discplinary Program



An aerial view of the Makerere University School of Public Health construction site on the Main Campus. To the Right is the Infectious Diseases Institute (IDI) and in the background are Dag Hammaskjold Hall (Green roof) and University Hall (Brown tiles).



Makerere University School of Public Health under D43 multi-disciplinary training program in digital mobile technologies to study tuberculosis that was recently funded by the NIH, through the University of Georgia (UGA) has an opportunity for funding of a masters’ research thesis. This is available to two (02) first year students of the Graduate programmes offered at Makerere University who have progressed to concept proposal development stage of their graduate program. These should be in good academic standing and have or are about to complete year 1 in Academic Year 2023/24. The support will start at the beginning of Academic Year 2024/25, i.e., end of August 2024 when the students are starting their year 2.  Students of geography and or digital health related courses are encouraged to apply, females too.  Students will be provided with secondary data to address the following, or similar, issues relating to tuberculosis (TB):

  1. Characterizing mobility patterns between urban and rural areas of Uganda using archived cell-phone (CDR) metadata
  2. Correlation between self-reported geolocated mobility patterns of TB patients and CDR data
  3. Differences in mobility patterns of TB patient’s pre-diagnosis and post-diagnosis
  4. Gender differences and relationship between IGRA and TST in a prospective cohort
  5. Patterns of change in serial IGRA test results by sex, age, HIV status
  6. Temporal changes in contact, mobility and geographic networks in TB converters and non-converters
  7. Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA) of social contacts and location patterns of movement by residents at risk for TB infection

Interested students are encouraged to attend an information session on Wednesday 17th July 2024 at MakSPH Annex Kololo where details about the research questions and funding opportunity will be provided to prospective applicants. Prospective applicants will be required to work with their mentors and training grant personnel to develop a 2-5-page concept that will be vetted for possible funding by training faculty of the training program.

Interested students should register their attendance with the training Coordinator, Mr Ivan Mutyaba by sending an email expressing interest in attending the session to by close of business on Thursday, 11th July 2024.

Continue Reading


METS Newsletter June 2024



Makerere University School of Public Health (MakSPH) Dean, Prof Rhoda Wanyenze (Left), MoH Director General, Dr. Henry Mwebesa (Right) and other stakeholders join Dr. Amy Boore (2nd Right) to cut cake at her farewell event. Golden Tulip Hotel, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.

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 June 2024 Newsletter

  • Tracking Trends in HIV Outcomes: The Implementation of HIV Case-Based Surveillance
    • METS in partnership with the Ministry of Health (MoH) and various implementing partners, is spearheading the HIV Case-Based Surveillance (CBS) initiative across Uganda. By February 2024, CBS had been activated in 504 health facilities, with 349 sites (69%) actively transmitting data.
    • Trends of New HIV Diagnosis: An analysis trends over a 20-year period (2000-2022) revealed an increase in new HIV diagnosis over time, peaking in 2014 and 2018, before starting to decline. Diagnoses among females consistently exceeded those among males each year.
    • Case-Based Surveillance (CBS) complimenting other HIV surveillance programs: CBS provides valuable insights into infection patterns and highlights the need for targeted interventions, particularly among females. Next steps include continued scale up of CBS implementation to reach 80% of ART sites; improving data transmission from facility to the national repository to achieve at least 90% of the CBS activated sites; and strengthening data analytics and use of the data for program improvement.
  • Enhancing HIV Prevention Data Collection Through Bootcamps
    • METS in collaboration with HISP Uganda held a workshop in Mbarara to update the Health Management Information System (HMIS) tools for PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) in the HIV Prevention Tracker. The workshop focused on digitizing paper forms to efficiently collect data on key and priority populations.
  • Electronic Medical Records (EMR) upgrades in Eastern Uganda
    • The two-week activity kicked off with a week-long training session at Northeast Villa in Kumi focused on the enhancements of UgandaEMR+, including improved point-of-care (POC) functionalities and data visualization techniques.
    • The initiative successfully trained over 15 AIDS Information Centre (AIC) staff members, including M&E leads, IT personnel, data officers, and M&E managers, in the practical use of UgandaEMR+. Additionally, the two facilities, Ochero HCIII and Kapelebyong HCIV, were upgraded and their staff trained on the new system.
  • Tribute to Dr. Joshua Musinguzi (9/09/1963 – 7/06/2024)
    • Dr. Joshua Musinguzi’s efforts to minimize HIV incidence and death strategically focused on translating knowledge into policies and actions, which has helped Uganda manage the HIV epidemic.
  • Gallery
    • Bidding farewell to Dr. Amy Boore, Program Director, Division of Global Health Protection – CDC
    • Analysing the UgandaEMR Clinical Laboratory Module
    • UgandaEMR+ training for USAID SITES
    • Training for clinicians at Ruharo Mission Hospital on SARI and ILI
    • HIV Treatment Services (HTS) Implementers Meeting

View on METS

Continue Reading


Job Opportunity at MakSBSREC: Assistant Administrative Officer



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, East Africa.

Makerere University is pleased to announce a vacancy for the position of Assistant Administrative Officer (REC Administrator) within the School of Biomedical Sciences Research Ethics Committee (MakSBSREC). This is an excellent opportunity for qualified individuals to contribute to the ethical oversight of research involving human participants.

Position Details:

  • Job Title: Assistant Administrative Officer (REC Administrator) – MakSBSREC
  • Reports to: Chairperson MakSBSREC
  • Engagement: Full-time
  • Duration: 1 Year, renewable upon satisfactory performance
  • Duty Station: Kampala

Qualifications, Desired Skills, and Experience:

  • Bachelor’s degree in Social Sciences and Humanities, Medicine and Surgery, Ethics and Human Rights, or any related field.
  • Master’s degree in Bioethics (an added advantage).
  • Up-to-date training in Human Subject Protection or Good Clinical Practice.
  • Proficiency in English (both spoken and written).
  • Prior experience in regulatory work in research studies or projects.
  • Excellent communication, organizational, and interpersonal skills.
  • Ability to work independently with minimal supervision and meet deadlines.

How to Apply:

Qualified and interested candidates are invited to submit a soft copy of their application documents and a motivation letter to with the subject line “Application for the position of Assistant Administrative Officer (REC Administrator)”. Address your application to the Dean, School of Biomedical Sciences.

Deadline for submission: July 2, 2024, by 5:00 pm Ugandan time.

Please provide a reliable 24-hour phone contact. Only short-listed candidates will be contacted for interviews.

View on CHS

Continue Reading