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Makerere University Hospital Embarks on Expansion, to add 10 ICU beds



As Makerere University draws closer to marking 100 years, the institution’s Hospital has embarked on an expansion program to support Uganda’s critical care needs.

Construction projects are currently under way at the Bativa Road-based Makerere University Hospital to increase the hospital’s Emergency Department and ICU capacity.

The plan is to remodel the Doctors’ Residence/lower block of the University Hospital into a 10-bed ICU Unit at a cost of approximately Ugx400million.

Works have started with CK Associates, an Engineering firm in Uganda. Dr. Josephine Nabukenya, the then Acting Deputy Vice Chancellor (Finance and Administration) said Makerere University has a bigger dream for the health services and the university hospital in particular citing that there can be no other to do this than now due to the inspiration by the coronavirus pandemic.

“I am glad that we have come this far because we started dreaming three months ago but finally we are here. Indeed, the first costing when we came touring here with the actual users, the anesthetists, the money was supposed to be times two what Makerere was to offer, but because we were winding up the financial year and the University had no money, they said that we can work within the resources available and they tasked Estates and Works Department to go and see how best they could cut down as much as they could do,” said Dr. Nabukenya.

Dr. Nabukenya adds that the institution had engaged the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development to support the university to realize its dream of turning the hospital into a high-grade in provision of health services to the community.

The DVCFA (2nd R), Dr. Josaphat Byamugisha (3rd R), Mr. Paul Agaba (R), Estates and Works Officials and University Hospital Staff tour part of the Hospital under. refurbishment.
The DVCFA (2nd R), Dr. Josaphat Byamugisha (3rd R), Mr. Paul Agaba (R), Estates and Works Officials and University Hospital Staff tour part of the Hospital under refurbishment.

Critical care medicine is a medical specialty that deals with recoverable acute life-threatening conditions. It spans early detection of potentially life-threatening conditions, to life support and intense monitoring, up to end-of-life care.

Provision of intensive care services therefore requires adequate set-up of hospital systems designed to support the critically ill patient, furnished with adequate supplies and equipment in appropriately sized space and environment by appropriately trained staff.

Dr. Josaphat Byamugisha, the University Hospital Director contends that due to the high cost of care as dictated by the severity of illness, services such as critical care are scarce in low-income countries with countries like Uganda which has approximately one bed per a million people.

“In order to provide affordable high-quality services, majority of Intensive Care Units in high income countries exist within large teaching hospitals or university-affiliated hospitals. It is therefore important that Makerere University Hospital establishes itself as one of the hospitals in the country with cutting edge critical care provision in the region,” Professor Byamugisha discloses.

Dr. Byamugisha says the COVID-19 pandemic has left Makerere University staff, students and general population exposed due to inadequate ICU bed numbers to cater for the surge.

The DVCFA (L), Estates and Works Director Eng. Christina Kakeeto (2nd L), Eng. Ezra Sekadde (3rd L) and University Hospital Staff tour part of the Hospital under refurbishment.
The DVCFA (2nd L), Estates and Works Director Eng. Christina Kakeeto (3rd L), Eng. Ezra Sekadde (4th L) and University Hospital Staff tour part of the Hospital under refurbishment.

Dr. Byamugisha who is also an Associate Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology further contends that complementary to emergency and operation theatre activities that will allow for more training sites nursing and postgraduate students at school of medicine in Intensive care, the ICU will promote and improve research and collaboration in the field of critical care with key international partners.

Makerere University has committed to the contractor half of the required funds required for the job. Prof. Nabukenya assured the contractor that the university management and government would increase this funding to complete the project.

“With reality, I am sure they (management) will appreciate more and we can see how best to squeeze from what we have. So, like how procurement advised, let us start, let us not be discouraged because we have half the resources. Let us start with what we have, and definitely as management when we come and see that half of the resources have done half the work and the other half is not completed, then definitely we have to step up,” Prof. Nabukenya said.

She urged the contractor to start the work and support the realization of Makerere University dream. “The dream is quite huge. For the sake of not just the Makerere Community, but it will actually support the Ministry of Health or I will say the entire country. So, I think it’s the whole reason why they felt they would help us with the equipment to equip the building when it is done. So, we do a good job in terms of the building, they will not have an excuse to equip. Let us start as we continue with the negotiations.”

Charles Kironde, Director CK Associates hailed Makerere University for awarding them another construction project- University Hospital.

Dr. Josaphat Byamugisha, the University Hospital Director (3rd L), Estates and Works Director Eng. Christina Kakeeto (2nd L) and other officials chat during the event.
Dr. Josaphat Byamugisha, the University Hospital Director (3rd L), Estates and Works Director Eng. Christina Kakeeto (2nd L) and other officials chat during the event.

“I would want to say as the director stated, this a very sensitive project, but much as Estates had stated that we had done dental school before, we have also handled some hospitals in our previous works outside the university for KCCA and MOH, so we have a bit of experience with hospital construction and ICU wards and theatres, in the last 3-5 years we have done so be assured that we will give you quality work to the specifications that you want. At least that is for starters,” said Kironde.

Makerere University Hospital, with its 43-year history deeply embedded in the memory of generations has served not only as a center for providing healthcare services but also as a center for training, research.

Since 1978,the hospital plays a significant role in the lives of students, staff and the surrounding areas. It is a successor of the first health post, Makerere University Students Health Service or sick bay at the current Makerere University police post.

In 1972, when Idi Amin expelled Asians, the university acquired the premises formerly known as Nile Nursing Home. The university Sick Bay relocated to the new premises. On February 16, 1978, President Idi Amin visited the Sick Bay and elevated it to a hospital status.

The university formally launched its centenary celebrations at an event on November 25, where University Vice Chancellor and the chairperson Mak@100 Organizing Committee, Professor Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe and Daniel Kidega respectively called on members of the Makerere University community to get involved with the major milestone.


Mak’s GMI Labs Authorized to Conduct DNA Paternity Testing



Some of the equipment used to store samples at the Makerere University Biomedical Research Centre (MakBRC), College of Health Sciences (CHS). Kampala Uganda, East Africa.

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.

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MNCH e-Post Issue 121: Learning from Nsambya Hospital Human Milk Bank to inform national scale-up & save preterm babies



A Screenshot of Prof. Peter Waiswa during his interview with NTV. MNCH e-Post Issue No. 121, MakSPH, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.

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

Click here to View the full MNCH e-Post Issue 121

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METS Newsletter October 2023



Front Row (Left to Right): The hosts - Dr. Alice Namale and Ms. Evelyn Akello with Commissioner Allan Muruta and representatives from US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Makerere University School of Public Health (MakSPH) enjoy a photo moment on 5th October 2023. Photo: METS. Plot 20A Kawalya Kaggwa Close, Kololo 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 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.
  • Gallery
    • 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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