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MakCHS Student Innovation shines at HIHA 2021

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A team of students led by Ms. Anna Maria Gwokyalya – 4th year student of Medicine and Surgery at the College of Health Sciences (MakCHS), Makerere University won the award of ‘Student Innovation of the Year’ at the Heroes in Health Awards (HIHA) held on the 12th November, 2021. Her innovation was a book “The Mugishas’ COVID-19 Tale” designed to help children be more involved in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.

Inaugurated in 2019, The Heroes in Health Awards (HIHA) is a public private initiative adopted by the Ministry of Health with the support of Xtraordinary Media to offer opportunity to members of the public to motivate Uganda’s excellent health sector players, recognize and encourage new innovations that will transform our health care system.

Anna Maria shares the experience of the team in an interview below:

Tell us more about your team

We are a team of five students who have worked on numerous research projects and online campaigns to increase awareness of Antimicrobial Resistance under ARSU (Antimicrobial Resistance Stewardship Uganda). Whereas I was the leader of this comic book project, it’s the brainchild of the entire team, an indicator of respect, mutuality and friendship.

Describe your innovation and what motivated you to work on it

This book entitled, “The Mugishas’ COVID-19 Tale” contains fascinating illustrations with simplified information on symptoms, transmission and prevention of COVID-19 that includes both observation of the standard operating procedures and vaccination.

A photo of the HIHA 2021 'Student Innovation of the Year' Award-winning book.
A photo of the HIHA 2021 ‘Student Innovation of the Year’ Award-winning book.

The book is a means of creating awareness on COVID-19 disease and its prevention among children below 12 years, a vulnerable group that is not eligible for vaccination (as per Uganda’s Vaccination Guidelines) against this disease, we designed the book to help children be more involved in the fight against this disease.

Infection prevention and control is not only pertinent to fighting Antimicrobial Resistance but also to promotion of health and wellbeing of the people. Writing this book is our contribution to controlling of infection as well as prevention, an important aspect of primary health care.

What is the impact of the book from your perspective?      

Since the comic book is very illustrative and appealing to the eye, we anticipate that the children will gain knowledge on COVID-19 as they enjoy the illustrations. We also hope that they will be agents of change through sharing this knowledge with their peers both at home and at school, protecting them against the disease in the long run.

The wording on Ms. Gwokyalya's trophy.
The wording on Ms. Gwokyalya’s trophy.

What is your advice to others about new ideas and innovations?

My advice is drawn from two quotes;

Quote 1: “Find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.” – Anonymous

Quote 2: “Teamwork is the secret that makes common people achieve uncommon results” –Ifeanyi Enoch Onucha

Innovations by MakCHS Research teams were exhibited at the HIHA Awards as well. These included:

VITEX (Medical Assistance Tool): Vitex is an integrated system that utilizes antimicrobial and affordable 3D plastics made out of 80% waste plastic, making it eco-friendly. The device sterilises wards up to 99.9%, thus preventing nosocomial infections by employing powerful pulsating U.V engine and spots latest in artificial intelligence to improve patient care and practitioner assistance.

VITEX – a Medical Assistance Tool designed by Dr. Justine Nnakate Bukenya (PI), Ainembabazi Samantha, Joeltta Nabungye, Kiirya Arnold, Mugisha Gift Arnold

Vitex is intended to improve health professionals’ quality of work by reducing workload and deters transmission of highly contagious infections such as COVID-19. It also improves access to vital medical literature, facilitates electronic consultation, service delivery in the medical environment, including carrying out consistent patient monitoring and reducing prescription/medication errors.

The device spots a Powerful Artificial Intelligence package that incorporates Intel RealSense, auto-follow, video capture, touch & voice control, playful expressions, and personality to keep patients in a cheerful mood. Vitex includes over-the-air updates making it viable for endless integration, including providing seamless data access for important time-sensitive decision-making through elaborate integrations.

Part of Team VITEX enjoys a photo moment with Dr. Sabrina Kitaka at HIHA 2021 on 12th November 2021.
Part of Team VITEX enjoys a photo moment with Dr. Sabrina Kitaka at HIHA 2021 on 12th November 2021.

Team: Dr. Justine Nnakate Bukenya (PI), Ainembabazi Samantha, Joeltta Nabungye, Kiirya Arnold, Mugisha Gift Arnold

The Early Preeclampsia Detection Strip (EPED Strip): The Early Preeclampsia Detection (EPED) Strip is a urine-based point-of-care detection strip for preeclampsia that pregnant women can use at home to self-screen for the condition. Preeclampsia is a maternal condition characterized by high blood pressure of 140/90mmHg and proteinuria after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Worldwide the condition is responsible for over 500,000 infant deaths and 70,000 maternal deaths annually. By seeking medical care at the early onset of preeclampsia, the condition can be appropriately monitored and controlled, thereby reducing the detrimental health impacts of undiagnosed preeclampsia which is a health burden to LMICs. Thus, the EPED strip is being designed to diagnose this condition early and functions very similar to a pregnancy test where urine is applied to one end of the strip, and pulled across it by capillary attraction to where antibodies specific to the biomarkers are immobilized. In the reaction matrix there are two lines, a test line and a control line. The presence or absence of the control and test lines indicates the presence or absence of the captured conjugates. This is designed with adaptation from the existing lateral flow assay (LFA) technology. While the primary goal of the EPED strip is to be a home-based early detection tool, the EPED strip can also be used to assist the diagnosis of preeclampsia in a clinical setting from large-scale national hospitals to remote health clinics.

Team:Prof Paul Kiondo (PI), Brian Matovu, Zoe Ssekyonda, Calvin Abonga, Olivia Peace Nabuuma, Dr. Robert Ssekitoleko

The Maternal PPH Wrap: The maternal PPH wrap; a wearable device strapped around the mother’s waist; affordable compared to the other devices that is able to carry out external compression of the uterus through the abdominal wall in order to stimulate myometrium contraction. The design is based on already used bimanual uterine compression techniques which are manually done by qualified and skilled personnel.

Despite the number of interventions, postpartum haemorrhage still remains the leading cause of maternal death globally. Most of the interventions that are recommended under standard clinical practical guidelines such as uterotonic drugs, therapeutic devices or even surgery are unavailable in the communities of low and middle income countries including Uganda simply because they are unaffordable and most times require qualified/skilled personnel and highly sterile environments.

The device will rely on an inflatable rubber bag to provide the pressure to do the sustained compression. The inflation will be done using a bulb similar to the one used by a sphygmomanometer. This is way less labour intensive than the procedure of bimanual uterine compression. The overall aim Is to create an efficient device that is affordable in Uganda and all developing countries’ healthcare markets as a leading lifesaver of mothers.

Team: Owen Muhimbisa, Kiwanuka Martin, Arinda Beryl, Maureen Etuket, Denis Mukiibi, Robert Ssekitoleko.

Zaam Ssali is the Principal Communication Officer SoL & MakCHS

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METS Newsletter May 2024

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The newly appointed CDC Uganda Country Director, Dr. Adetinuke Mary Boyd (7th from left) met with country implementing partner Executive Directors to get insights on ongoing projects, discussed leveraging of partnerships as well as strategizing for how best to strengthen health systems. Infectious Diseases Institute (IDI)-McKinnell Knowledge Centre, Makerere University, 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 May 2024 Newsletter

  • Enhancing Response to Sexual and Gender-Based Violence
    • Responding to and preventing Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) and Violence Against Children (VAC) are critical components of Uganda’s national HIV prevention program. METS developed a new app designed to improve support for SGBV survivors. This followed an assessment in December 2022, that revealed gaps in service access and coordination in Fort Portal and Kampala Regions.
    • The METS team, in collaboration with regional implementing partners, is scaling up the app’s use in pilot districts such as Masaka, Kiryandongo, Fort Portal, and Mubende. The team visited facilities and police stations to install the app and train selected focal persons on its use.
  • Assessing Readiness for Integrated HIV and NCD Care Services
    • METS supported the Ministry of Health to conduct a site readiness assessment for integrated delivery of HIV and Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) services from 22nd to 26th April 2024, in collaboration with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and various implementing partners. The activity was conducted in selected health facilities in Acholi, Mubende, Kayunga, and Rwenzori regions to determine their feasibility for participating in a comprehensive NCD evaluation.
    • The 48 facilities visited have already integrated NCD services (mental Health, diabetes, and hypertension). Of these, 78% have integrated mental health services in their PMTCT clinics. 40% of the facilities have a dedicated NCD services physicians /doctor in the ART Clinic, 29% have doc have dedicated physicians in the PMTCT clinics. 90%. Most of the facilities have clinical and nurses in the ART than PMTCT facilities but more nurses offering NCD services in PMTCT sites.
  • Digitalizing the health sector through strategic partnerships
    • In collaboration with CDC and METS, the MoH organized a national Electronic Medical Records (EMR) stakeholders meeting to orient stakeholders on the national EMR agenda and transition towards a comprehensive digital health facility package. Key actions discussed included expanding the rollout of the EMR and Community Health Information System (eCHIS) and urging development partners to support prioritized health information and digital health investments.
    • The introduction of electronic medical records (EMRs) in health facilities aims to improve the quality of health service delivery by providing real-time accountability transparency, and traceability of medical supplies, monitoring health worker absenteeism, enhancing patient satisfaction through efficient care provision, reducing unnecessary or duplicate diagnostic tests, and offering easy access to management reports for decision-making. Additionally, EMRs will lay the foundation for the implementation of national health insurance.
  • UgandaEMR+ Implementation Showcased at Kisenyi HCIV
    • METS and Reach Out Mbuya (ROM) showcased the implementation of UgandaEMR+ to representatives from the USG and the Ministry of Health (MoH) at Kisenyi HCIV. The visit was aimed at providing a clear understanding of the system’s functionality at the health facility, which serves over 1,200 outpatients daily and supports over 1600 clients on ART.
    • Dr. Peter Akonyera, the ART Clinic In Charge shared positive end-user experiences, noting simplified data use and analysis, efficient data retrieval, and the system’s popularity among users despite existing challenges. He appreciated METS’ support in maintaining system synchronization. The data visualization tools have been particularly useful for clinicians to manage patient schedules and workload distribution effectively, ensuring timely and efficient healthcare delivery.
  • METS Showcases Research at INTEREST 2024 Conference in Benin
    • The International Conference on HIV Treatment, Pathogenesis, and Prevention Research (INTEREST) brought together global scientists to share cutting-edge knowledge in HIV diagnosis, treatment, and prevention. The conference also aimed to build a community of African physicians and scientists to develop local solutions for managing HIV and preventing its transmission.
    • METS submitted an abstract titled “Enhancing HIV Case Identification through a National HIV Testing Services (HTS) Continuous Quality Improvement” based on support to the Ministry of Health (MoH) in designing, implementing, and evaluating initiatives to increase the identification of HIV-positive clients, crucial for achieving the global target of 95% of people living with HIV (PLHIV) knowing their status.
  • Gallery
    • New CDC Director meets Country implementing partner Executive Directors
    • UgandaEMR+ support supervision at Kisenyi HCIV visit
    • EMR Stakeholders meeting
    • CBS guidelines meeting
    • INTEREST 2024 conference – Benin
    • Key Populations assessment – Ishaka district

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SIMCS-Trial Vacancy Announcement: Twenty-Five (25) Research Assistants

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An elevated shot of the School of Health Sciences and School of Medicine Building, College of Health Sciences (CHS), Makerere University. Mulago Campus, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.

Makerere University College of Health Sciences School of Medicine in collaboration with Baylor College of Medicine received funding from US National Institutes of Health – Fogarty International Center to carry out a study on “Development and evaluation of an information management and communication system for population-wide point of-care infant sickle cell disease screening (SIMCS-Trial)”. The program seeks to recruit 25 research assistants at its study sites. 

Roles and responsibilities  

  • Identify and screen participants for possible enrolment into the study according to the Study Protocol.
  • Obtain informed consent from caregivers of eligible participants as per protocol accordance with GCP and HSP principles.
  • Counsel and explain study procedures to the caregivers of study participants using the mobile app.
  • Enrol eligible participants into the study to meet the study accrual targets.
  • Complete study CRFs, correctly and accurately in compliance with trial procedures/ SOPs and GCP standards.
  • Ensure study participants’ safety and privacy, data integrity and confidentiality.
  • Participate in collection of appropriate study samples/specimens from the participants as per protocol and SOPs as well as performing the test.
  • Carry out any other duties as assigned by superiors in line with your work.

Required Qualification and experience 

  • A degree in any health-related discipline, and registered with the relevant national bodies.
  • Knowledge and familiarity with Microsoft word, Excel, PowerPoint and Access as well as basic internet applications 
  • Skills in using common relevant computer packages and mobile technology for data collection
  • Previous work in a research environment is added advantage.
  • Basic knowledge of clinical research regulatory procedures. 
  • Good Clinical Practice (GCP) training and Research Ethics training skills and knowledge
  • Excellent command of English (written and oral) as well as the local languages (Luganda or Lusoga)
  • Excellent interpersonal skills to develop relationships with participants.
  • Experience of living and or working both in urban and rural environment.
  • Team-working skills to work effectively as part of a multidisciplinary healthcare team 
  • Time management skills and ability to handle multiple tasks simultaneously.
  • Highly organized, detail-oriented and self-motivated/driven. 
  • Ability to handle multiple tasks simultaneously. 
  • Ability to professionally communicate in writing, verbally or other means deemed appropriate. 

Reports to: The SIMCS Co-Investigator/SIMCS Trial Coordinator 

Expected start date: July 2024

How to apply: 1-page type written application letter addressed to the Principal Investigator SIMCS Trial MakCHS SOM together with current CV, copies of academic certificates, and recommendation letters from two past employers should be e-mailed as ONE PDF DOCUMENT to makimpact22@gmail.com

Deadline for receiving applications: Friday 20th June 2024 at 5:00 pm

Only shortlisted candidates will be invited to the interview. 

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CTCA Call for Proposals: Enhance Tobacco Control Institutional Capacity in Africa

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Call for Proposals - Project Title: Enhance Tobacco Control Institutional Capacity in Africa; Grant #339. Deadline 30th June 2024, by 5pm EAT. The Centre for Tobacco Control in Africa (CTCA), School of Public Health, College of Health Sciences (CHS), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.

Project Title: Enhance Tobacco Control Institutional Capacity in Africa; Grant #339

Introduction:

The Centre for Tobacco Control in Africa (CTCA) received funding from the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) for the 2024-2026 to implement a project on institutional capacity. The project investments are geared towards sustaining human resource capacity and knowledge generation to reduce use of all forms of tobacco products in Africa. Specifically, the project aims to:

  1. Enhance training opportunities for African governments and relevant actors in tobacco control in
    the continent
  2. Increase access to knowledge for guiding tobacco use prevention and control in Africa
  3. Reinforce the institutional development of CTCA for an optimal performance of its functions
    and processes.

In 2020, CTCA developed a Tobacco Control Research Agenda (TCRA) with the aim of providing a guide for generating local evidence to drive tobacco control policy formulation and implementation in Africa.

Therefore, CTCA with support from ACBF is seeking researchers across the African continent to be awarded 6 small grants of USD 5000 to implement research that aligns with the TCRA thematic areas below:

  1. Patterns and trends of tobacco use and exposure for all tobacco products including the new
    products at country and regional levels (sex, age, region, types of products, new products).
  2. Effects of tobacco use and exposure on sustainable development (poverty, education, culture, food security, environment, HIV, TB, reproductive health, NCDs).
  3. Tobacco use and populations at risk (youth, young adults, women/gender, elderly, residents
    of urban areas, miltary, prisoners, mental health patients, populations in low socio-economic
    dwellings like slums).
  4. Tobacco control policy research and analysis (smoke free, TAPS, GHWs, ceasation) of cost
    effectiveness, impact, drivers, enablers, innovation, challenges, communication and advocacy
    for tobacco control.
  5. Sociocultural context of tobacco use
  6. Tobacco industry and tobacco control policy
  7. Tobacco production, alternative livelihoods and environment (distribution, value chain,
    environmental impact, historical and determinants of tobacco production)
  8. The economics of tobacco and tobacco control (product, pricing, illicit tobacco trade,
    taxation)

The full research Agenda can be accessed in English and in French.

Submissions

We are pleased to invite submissions from researchers based in Africa. Successful proposals should align with any of the 8 thematic areas of the CTCA Research Agenda. Innovative proposals that address critical issues and contribute to evidence-based policy and practice in the respective areas to inform Tobacco control in Africa are particularly encouraged.

Requirements

These grants will fund work that relates to the CTCA Research Agenda. Activities will include
proposal development, data collection and analysis, report writing and dissemination. All research to be implemented will be approved by the institutional review board and published in peer reviewed journals. These grants are intended for; 1) Researchers based in Tobacco Control Programs/Response; 2) post graduate students who would like to complete their research projects aligned to this call and 3) early and middle career researchers. It is required that this research is executed, and the report completed within 12 months. The applicant should have a mentor in an established institution.

Eligibility

Eligibility is restricted to Africa-based researchers. This refers to individuals who are (a) currently studying at a university or research institute in Africa, and/or b) currently working within a university, research institute, or in tobacco control in Africa. All persons associated with tobacco industry will not be funded and therefore should not apply. Successful applicants will be required to sign a declaration of interest that they do not have any relationship with tobacco industry.

Evaluation criteria

Proposals will be reviewed by a group of experts and researchers. Projects will be assessed against six, equally weighted evaluation criteria:

  • Knowledge contribution in respect to policy, strategy, and evidence to answer local
    challenges:
    Does the study articulate the research gap? Does study make a significant
    contribution toward advancing knowledge in the tobacco control field? Does it answer
    new questions or introduce novel methods, measures, or tobacco control interventions? Is
    it aligned to the WHO FCTC and tobacco control local context requirements? Does the
    study add to the existing body of research?
  • Policy relevance: Will results from the research have generalizable implications? How,
    if at all, will the “lessons learned” have relevance beyond the study? Will the study
    outcomes influence decisions in tobacco control?
  • Technical design: Do the methods appropriately answer the objectives and the questions
    outlined in the proposal? Is the proposed study feasible in one year?
  • Project viability: Are there any other logistical or political obstacles that might threaten
    the completion of the study, for example, government authorization or Human Subjects
    review, civil strife, social cultural sensitivity?
  • Value of research: Is the cost of the study commensurate with the value of expected
    contributions to policy? Are the planned activities justified and coherent?
  • Ethics: Reviewers will consider whether there are any risks of harm to research
    participants, what the proposed risk mitigation strategies are, and how the possible
    benefits of the research compare to the possible harms.

Application Process

Apply HERE not later than 30th June 2024, by 5pm EAT. Applicants are required to provide a
recommendation/support letter from their supervisors or heads of department.

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