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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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Assoc. Prof. Annettee Nakimuli wins US$1M grant for Maternal Health Research

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Associate Professor Annettee Nakimuli, Dean School of Medicine, College of Health Sciences (CHS), Makerere University.

Associate Professor Annettee Nakimuli, Dean – School of Medicine has been awarded US$1M grantfor Maternal Health Research from the Gates Foundation Calestous Juma Science Leadership Fellowship. The five-year grant, entitled “Enhancing prediction of adverse pregnancy outcomes in Africa through partnerships and innovation” will focus on Great Obstetrical Syndromes (GOS), such as pre-eclampsia, preterm birth, stillbirth, intrauterine growth restriction;to help develop context-relevant interventions for prevention and treatment.

This is a major research project because GOS is a major killer in sub-Saharan Africa accounting for 60% of the deaths of mothers. Maternal mortality in Uganda remains high in the region at 336/100,000 live births which is approximately a 14-seater bus of women dying per day.

Dr. Nakimuli, a graduate of Makerere University College of Health Sciences, is an internationally-recognized research leader in maternal health for Africa. Her work can be traced back to 2006 when she was appointed an Assistant Lecturer in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Faculty of Medicine, Makerere University. She then enrolled for PhD in 2009 to investigate how KIR and HLA-C genetic variants contributed to the pre-eclamptic risk in Ugandans which was the first genetic case-control study of pre-eclampsia in indigenous Africans – despite African ancestry being a predisposing factor to pre-eclampsia. She concluded that African women are at greater risk of preeclampsia than other racial groups. Dr. Nakimuli has researched extensively on maternal health, mentored young scientists and supervised manymasters and PhD students.

She will establish a cohort study of 4000 healthy pregnant women at Mulago and Kawempe Hospitals in Kampala, Uganda will be conducted where detailed clinical, biological and demographic information from mothers throughout pregnancy and from their babies at the time of birth will be collected. The study has potential to shed light on determinants, mechanisms and solutions for the excess burden of maternal and perinatal morbidity and mortality in SSA and for women with African ancestry elsewhere in the world. This study builds on Dr. Nakimuli’s project where she is investigating predictors of pre-eclampsia in a cohort 1,500 healthy pregnant women; supported by the Future Leaders–African Independent Research (FLAIR) fellowship project funded by the Royal Society through the African Academy of Sciences.

Some of the products from the grant/study include: i) the biobank from this research will provide an important resource for future research studies. ii) build capacity for African scientists to solve problems of the Africa continent other than dependence on foreign experts iii) develop regional partnerships iv) multidisciplinary research where scientists from various areas work together.

Dr. Nakimuli expressed her appreciation for the opportunity given to her by the Gates Foundation to undertake the study as well as the support from colleagues at College of Health Sciences and Makerere University. She also highlighted the work accomplished through partnership with scientists at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Cambridge, U.K headed by Prof. Gordon Smith.

Zaam Ssali is the Principal Communication Officer SoL & MakCHS

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Monitoring & Evaluation in Global Health Course

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The Makerere University Lung Institute (MLI) premises, College of Health Sciences, Mulago Campus. Date taken: April 2019

Makerere University Lung Institute through its NIH funded Non-Communicable Diseases Research training program #D43TW011401 aims to develop capacity for researcher to learn and understand the necessary tools to develop and implement M&E frameworks tailored to the needs of their NCD research programs in Uganda. As part of the program the Institute will sponsor participants with interest in NCD research to undertake a Monitoring and Evaluation in Global Health course with the University of Washington.  This course provides practical M&E skills that are required to create models and frameworks, indicators, design and deployment of M&E plans, quantitative and qualitative data collection, and data verification methods for working in complex local, regional, national, and global health environments.

How to Apply:

  1. Create an eDGH account: go to https://edgh.washington.edu, select ‘Log in’ on the top right, and then ‘Create a new account’. This will allow you to apply to the course and the account will keep track of your application and data
  2. Once you have created your account, go to  https://edgh.washington.edu/courses/participant-application
  3. Select the “Site-Based Participant” option when applying and select your site as “Uganda Kampala Makerere University Lung Institute” from the list on the application:
    1. Note: You may be asked if you understand that you may be responsible to contribute to site fees – select yes, but please note that there will be no cost to you for taking this course with our group.
    2. You will receive a confirmation email once you have submitted your application.

Please make sure you submit this application form by 08th December, 2021.

Contact Information:

Dr. Charles Batte
Program Manager,
Makerere University Non-Communicable Diseases Training Program (MakNCD)
makncd.chs[at]mak.ac.ug
+256700800618

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Call for Applications: CTCA Study Coordinator (Nov 2021-Nov 2026)

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A screenshot of African Governments supported by the Center for Tobacco Control in Africa (CTCA), Makerere University School of Public Health.

Project Title

Quit4Life+: Adapting and Evaluating a Phone-Based Tobacco Use Cessation Program for People Living with HIV in Uganda and Zambia

Introduction

The Centre for Tobacco Control in Africa is open for applications from suitably qualified candidates to coordinate a 5-years study in the field of HIV, tobacco use cessation and mHealth. The project targets young professional with a background in Public Health and clinical medicine from recognized university or any other related field institutions. The candidate should be interested in furthering research skills in the domains of HIV, tobacco control, mHealth, clinical trials and desirous of pursuing a PhD. The project provides opportunities for PhD.

About the Project

The Centre for Tobacco in Africa (CTCA), a constituent entity of Makerere University School of Public health responsible for capacity building and research for tobacco control in Africa. CTCA and the University of Southern California (USC) will be implementing a 5-year research project titled “Quit4Life+: Adapting and Evaluating a Phone-Based Tobacco Use Cessation Program for People Living with HIV in Uganda and Zambia”. This randomized control trial study aims to promote smoking cessation among HIV infected persons through adapting a standard short message service (SMS) for tobacco cessation program and the efficacy of SMS-based program tailored to meet the needs of PLWH (Quit4Life+) in comparison to the current standard of care in Uganda and Zambia.

The study will provide insights into the efficacy, feasibility, and applicability of delivering tobacco cessation interventions through health care professionals at HIV treatment centers in two countries with different tobacco use patterns, policy environments, and health care resources and provide needed information to providers and policymakers looking for cost-effective tobacco cessation interventions to inform scale-up of tobacco use cessation in LMICs worldwide. The project is therefore targeting public health professionals with experience in clinical trials and interested in fortifying their research skills who want to do a PhD.

While the PhD sponsorship is not embedded in the study, the project provides opportunities for a 5-year hands-on practicum the study coordinator will optimize to further his/her research and writing skills. The study coordinator will be expected to participate in teaching and to co-mentoring students interested to conduct research in the fields covered by the study. The candidate will be assigned an academic mentor from within the study team to further his/her career objective.

Scope of Work

The objective of recruiting a study coordinator is to strengthen coordination of the study to attain the project deliverables in the projected timelines. Therefore, the project seeks to recruit a professional responsible for holding the research program together in support of the project goal and specific aims to understand tobacco use cessation among HIV positive clients in health care settings. The search is for a full-time professional to hold the different components of the research project linked and desirous of undertaking a PhD. The successful individual will undergo a 6 months’ probation. The contract is renewable after successful performance appraisal for up to 5 years. In fulfilment of the PhD support, part of the individual salary will pay his/her tuition at Makerere University. The individual will use data from the project to write his/her thesis and also participate in the capacity building activities/session at the School of Public Health.

The study coordinator will;

  1. Develop the quarterly and annual work plans for the project
  2. Draft communication letters and memos for signature by the PI or his/her designate
  3. Schedule and convene virtual/physical meetings
  4. Act as secretary for the meetings
  5. Prepare terms of reference and job descriptions of project staff including field research teams
  6. Coordinate research capacity building activities and keep liaison with the study site teams in the two countries
  7. Ensure the study tools are up to date and protocols are submitted to IRB including renewals
  8. Support the procurement of the needed equipment to conduct the data collection
  9. Field supervision of study activities
  10. Supervision and appraisal of research assistants
  11. Overseeing data management and analysis, maintain, and update the research database for ease of follow up and reference
  12. Ensure quality assurance of the data collected
  13. Tracking progress against targets and documenting the study progress for timely and quality research outputs
  14. Preparing and submitting weekly progress reports to the PI
  1. Planning and management tasks for the smooth running of the research project.
  2. Track progress against targets and document the study process through compilation of monthly reports
  3. Coordinate the consent disclosure language and authorization, data collection, management, analysis and transmission
  4. Generate activity plans and the requisite operational schedules.
  5. Participate in preparation of manuscripts for publication in scientific journals.
  6. Compile monthly, quarterly, and annual report for review by the PI
  7. Participate is translating research outputs into peer reviewed journal articles, manuscripts, and publications.
  8. Organize dissemination of research information through various dissemination channels
  9. Any other duties related to the study that may be assigned by the PI

Key deliverables along the project path

The required deliverables include;

  1. Study tools
  2. Quarterly and annual work plans & budgets
  3. Performance Reports; Monthly, quarterly annual
  4. Term of references for the various level of the project team
  5. Checklists of project team
  6. A publication per year
  7. Supervision of students at master’s level
  8. Submission of a research grant for funding
  9. A PhD dissertation

Application Procedures

The applicant should submit electronically by 15th December 2021 at 5.00pm EAT;

  1. A cover letter
  2. A detailed Curriculum Vitae highlighting relevant research experience
  3. Copies of academic transcripts
  4. A statement of motivation that indicates reasons for applying for this post
  5. Reference letters from two referees with active phone numbers, and email addresses
  6. Address your application EOI[at]ctc-africa.org

Preference will be given to applicants interested in pursuing a PhD and demonstrated ability to contribute to the overall project goal.

Call originally posted on CTCA website

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