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Govt. Asked to Scale up Successes in Buikwe, Mukono CVDs Interventions to the Rest of the Country



Africa continues to record the highest prevalence of hypertension globally. Studies show that Uganda’s hypertension prevalence stands at 26.4% and public health experts are worried that rising prevalence of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) should be curbed lest it contributes to the disease burden.

In Africa, just like other low- and middle-income countries, the burden of disease is transitioning from infectious diseases to NCDs and the World Health Organisation predicts that they are likely to become a major health system challenge in Africa as they are predicted to become the leading cause of death in the region by 2030.

Studies estimate Uganda’s NCDs prevalence at 33 in every 100 people die of cardiovascular diseases (CVDs). The prevalence of hypertension for instance among adults stands at 26.4% with the highest prevalence in central Uganda (28.5%) which hosts Mukono and Buikwe districts.

In Mukono and Buikwe districts, among persons aged 15 years and above, the age standardized prevalence of hypertension is 27.2%.

Makerere University School of Public Health has for close to three (03) years now been impacting the communities in Mukono and Buikwe districts through its project; Cardiovascular Disease prevention program -Scaling -up Packages for Interventions for Cardiovascular diseases prevention in selected sites in Europe and sub-Saharan Africa (SPICES) Uganda.

The SPICES project focuses on prevention of diseases of the heart and blood vessels. The project has conducted a comprehensive study  at both health facility level and community level where a number of community workers and health workers from randomly selected villages and health facilities in Mukono and Buikwe have been trained in cardiovascular disease prevention and control.  

So far, a total of 366 health workers and 80 community health workers (CHWs/VHTs) received training. In addition, the project provided the health centers with equipment to support screening and management of cardiovascular diseases. The project team has, with support of health facilities been involved in screening CVD risk, care and management as well as health promotion and profiling at community level.

As a result of this intervention, there are higher volumes of hypertension and diabetes patients being received as a result of sensitization by the community health workers. There are also reports of changes in behavior in lifestyles especially diet and physical activity as well as improved patient health seeking behaviors for chronic services.

For instance, while presenting results at a dissemination workshop held on December 8th 2021 at Colline Hotel in Mukono district, Dr. Geofrey Musinguzi, the Principal Investigator of the SPICES Project expressed that the project has had significant impact in terms of knowledge changes, and in terms of profiles.

SPICES project Principal Investigator Dr. Geofrey Musinguzi in an interview with journalists immediately after the dissemination in Mukono on Wednesday.
SPICES project Principal Investigator Dr. Geofrey Musinguzi in an interview with journalists immediately after the dissemination in Mukono on Wednesday. 

“Much as the prevalence of smoking didn’t seem to change, there was a change in frequency of smoking. For example, those who were smoking daily, we saw a reduction from 2018/19 to 2021,” says Dr. Musinguzi.

He adds that there was a significant difference in passive smoking. “Passive smoking is as dangerous as active smoking. At the baseline, people were smoking and exposing their love ones to tobacco but when they were trained from the health facilities and from the community on the dangers of smoking and passive smoking. So, we have seen an attitude of people in families where people are smoking, of if they can’t avoid smoking, doing it away from their families.”

Arising out of the successes of the project so far, Dr. Rhoda Wanyenze, Professor and Dean of Makerere University School of Public Health (MakSPH) has asked government and the Ministry of Health in particular to support noncommunicable diseases care in the districts of Mukono and Buikwe.

Prof. Wanyenze who is also co-principal investigator of the project SPICES project intervention in Mukono and Buikwe could be used as a yardstick to pick lessons for the Ministry of Health to extend the services to other parts of the country.

Dr. Rhoda Wanyenze, Professor and Dean of Makerere University School of Public Health (MakSPH) and SPICES project Co-Principal Investigator
Dr. Rhoda Wanyenze, Professor and Dean of Makerere University School of Public Health (MakSPH) and SPICES project Co-Principal Investigator.

“We can use this as a learning hub so that we can also get the other regions that do not have the standard for NCD care at the level that we have in these districts. Let us maintain it because it is an opportunity for us to show that it is doable, that we can do something about NCDs and that others can learn something from these districts and facilities and we can do better across the country,” Professor Wanyenze said.

Tereza Ssenjova, a resident of Busabala Mukono said; “I used to be diagnosed with fever, yet I did not have it. Not until recently through SPICES screening that I was told I have high blood pressure and diabetes.”

Prof. Wanyenze urged for the Ministry of Health to rally Ugandans, the leadership at all levels to aggressively advocate for a safer population by preventing and reducing cardiovascular diseases.

“Please do speak about NCDs like the way we speak about COVID-19 lately and the way we have been speaking about other diseases. Encourage people to screen. If there is an opportunity, why not have a machine around you in your place so that you can encourage people to screen periodically. Think of how you can creatively encourage the communities to screen, so that we can discover these diseases early and be able to do something,” says Prof. Wanyenze.

Dr. Gerald Mutungi, assistant Commissioner Health Services- Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) department at the Ministry of Health admits that cardiovascular diseases are on a rise but hastens to add that they can be prevented.

“What we have found out is that the communities, once educated, sensitized can come for screening, but also can follow some of the guidelines given to prevent cardiovascular diseases. This has been shown and we have the data now,” Dr. Mutungi says.

Dr. Gerald Mutungi, the Assistant Commissioner, Non-Communicable Diseases Department, Ministry of Health
Dr. Gerald Mutungi, the Assistant Commissioner, Non-Communicable Diseases Department, Ministry of Health

Dr. Mutungi welcomes the results and noted that government will scale-up the interventions.

“We are in evidence-based policy and decision making. This is going to influence our policy. We had already started sensitizing VHTs but we were not sure that actually they can play a big role in prevention of cardiovascular diseases. Now this study is showing that yes, they can. We thought they could only support in distributing bed nets, simple things but they have shown us that they can do a lot in prevention and control of diseases,” he said.

Dr. Musinguzi said the project has had a multi-component intervention including health promotion, screening, training among others.

“We think that this intervention can reach many people. I gave an example of the talking T-Shirt. It has the modifiable risk factors. ‘don’t smoke’, ‘do more exercise’, ‘reduce/avoid alcohol,’ ‘maintain a healthy weight’, ‘go for checkup’ ‘control stress’, ‘eat healthy diet’ among others. In fact, we got reports from VHTs that the messages were received by the population. So, we think all ways of delivering messages must be explored to be able to enhance awareness about CVDs and other NCDs,” Dr. Musinguzi contends.

Hajat Fatuma Ndisaba Nabitaka, the Resident District Commissioner for Mukono district
Hajat Fatuma Ndisaba Nabitaka, the Resident District Commissioner for Mukono district.

hailed the SPICES project team for the “wonderful research” and requested the project to include Buvuma and Kayunga districts on the study scope.

“I thank you so much for training the VHTs and our health workers around Mukono and Buikwe districts. This is very good,” said Hajat Nabitaka.

She underscores the need for continued sensitization of the population with a view of changing mindsets to be able to fully realise the benefits.

“Some people think these are diseases of the rich people. Not knowing that even a child in primary school can get diabetes. Not knowing that even an ordinary person in community can get pressure due to the various stress factors. Let us utilize the VHTs to solve many problems including social societal problems such as stress,” Hajat Nabitaka.

Dr. Rawlance Ndejjo, the SPICES Project coordinator said the project has been able to enroll 23 health facilities where it has greatly impacted lives.

He adds that the dissemination is; “a great opportunity to share what we have been doing in field with the rest of the world.”

Dr. Rawlance Ndejjo, the SPICES Project coordinator
Dr. Rawlance Ndejjo, the SPICES Project coordinator

Some health facilities have have adopted strategies to acquire hypertension and diabetes drugs, and all enrolled facilities are now able to identify and manage Type 1 diabetes, unlike in the past.

SPICES project is currently implemented in Uganda, South Africa, France, Belgium and the United Kingdom. It is an implementation science project funded by the European Commission through the Horizon2020 research and innovation.

Mukono and Buikwe district Health workers and community health workers (CHWs/VHTs) in a group photo with SPICES project Principal Investigator Dr. Geofrey Musinguzi and Dr. Gerald Mutungi, the Assistant Commissioner, Non-Communicable Diseases Department, Ministry of Health.
Mukono and Buikwe district Health workers and community health workers (CHWs/VHTs) in a group photo with SPICES project Principal Investigator Dr. Geofrey Musinguzi and Dr. Gerald Mutungi, the Assistant Commissioner, Non-Communicable Diseases Department, Ministry of Health at a Dissemination workshop on December 8th 2021 at Colline Hotel, Mukono.

Article originally published on MakSPH website.


Boy Children Report More Physical & Emotional Abuse



Men in the intervention group during the Parenting for Responsibility (PfR) project training session.

By George Kisetedde

On 3rd August, 2022, the CHDC (Child Health and Development Centre) disseminated study findings from one of the research studies carried out at the centre. These findings were presented under the title,“The Prevention of Violence against Children and Women: Baseline and Implementation Science Results from Parenting Cluster Randomised Trial.” Moderated by Dr. Anthony Batte, a lecturer at CHDC. Study findings were presented by Joseph Kahwa, the trial manager of the Parenting for Responsibility (PfR) project, under which this study falls.

Kahwa described PfR as a community based parenting programme delivered to both male and female parents. This programme aims to improve parenting skills, prevent violence against children, and to improve spousal relationships.

Findings from the study

Findings from this study showed that parents maltreat boy children more than girl children. The boys reported more emotional and physical violence than girls. Furthermore, the boy children reported that male caregivers specifically, maltreat them more. On the other hand, the girl children reported more sexual violence from caregivers than boys. On the whole, the children reported that female caregivers emotionally and physically abused them more compared to male caregivers.

More findings, according to Kahwa, showed that 46.5% of parents in Amuru can provide their children with soap to wash, 44.5% can provide school fees, 44.4% can provide school materials, 44.2% can provide new clothes, 43.3% can buy school uniform, and 35.9% can provide a pair of shoes.

How the research is conducted

The study is divided into 16 group sessions. The first 9 sessions are single sex, that is, male caregivers and female caregivers train separately. The next 7 sessions are mixed with male and female participants combined during training.

A mixed group parenting session for both men and women.
A mixed group parenting session for both men and women.

Kahwa explained that this programme was initiated to deal with VAC (violence against children) and IPV (intimate partner violence). These two vices are closely linked and have a significant impact on how children turn out.

Kahwa added that the PfR research programme aims at addressing the four major factors that may lead to VAC/IPV. These include; poor parental bonding, harsh parenting, unequal gender socialisation and spousal relationships.Poor parental bonding refers to the absence of a healthy close connection between a parent and their child. When a parent and child are not close, the parent may lack empathy for the child and the ability to perceive and respond to their child’s needs. When this bond is weak, a parent is unable to appreciate a child’s needs and can end up being unrealistically tough, which results in harsh parenting. Unequal gender socialisation generally refers to the different expectations that parents have of their children depending on their gender-male or female. The quality of the spousal relationship between parents also affects a child’s life. These four areas are what the parenting sessions concentrate on during the training.

The PfR study employed a cluster randomised controlled trial (RCT) design. Male and female caregivers were recruited from cluster villages in the Wakiso and Amuru districts in Uganda. One child aged 10 to 14 per household was randomly selected and assessed.

The caregivers were divided into two groups; the intervention group and the control group. The intervention group underwent all the 16 sessions of the training while the control group underwent a 2 session lecture on parenting. The impact of the PfR intervention was then ascertained by comparing baseline and endline results (or the before-and-after experiences of parents). The study participants were from 54 Villages selected in both Amuru and Wakiso districts. 108 caregiver groups (54 groups per intervention)were selected. This resulted in 2328 parents recruited and 886 children.

In conclusion, Mr. Kahwa said that maltreatment is still prevalent in the population. Generally, the PfR programme was well-received by parents and it had ad good attendance from parents. The programme also registered good male engagement. The peer facilitators who were recruited also had great potential in expanding the PfR programme at community level.

This study was conducted by Dr Siu Godfrey as the Principal Investigator. Other members of the team included Carolyn Namutebi, Richard Sekiwunga, Joseph Kahwa, Dr Betty Okot, and Martha Atuhaire. They were supported by the Director from CHDC, Dr. Herbert Muyinda and the CHDC Finance & Administration team. The team from Glasgow & Oxford Universities in the UK included, Prof Daniel Wight, Dr Jamie Lachman , Francisco Calderon and Dr Qing Han. On the other side, the team from the SOS Children’s Village from Gulu and Wakiso included, Rachel Kayaga, Sindy Auma Florence and Godfrey Otto.

Contact: George Kisetedde – | Edited by Agnes Namaganda –

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Makerere Medical Journal: Golden Jubilee Edition 2022



Cover Page of the Makerere Medical Journal Golden Jubilee Edition 2022.

It’s with great pleasure that I welcome you to the Golden Jubilee edition of this phenomenal journal. Yes, The Makerere Medical Journal marks 50 years of publication with this year’s edition and all this has been made possible by the endless efforts and contributions of the Makerere University College of Health Sciences Staff and students because without your research submissions and financial support, the journal wouldn’t have made it this far. To you reading this, thank you for contributing to the sustainability of this great project, year in year out.

Here’s a quote to ponder on as you delve into this year’s well-crafted articles and it’s by Zora Hurston (1891-1960), “Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose.” And doesn’t that just define our purpose as researchers?!

This edition’s articles cover pertinent topics ranging from Antimicrobial Stewardship, COVID-19 interventions, Oral Health amongst others. It also features student projects, write-ups on student-led organizations and societies that are making a difference in the life of a health sciences’ student and many more interesting writings. Featured in this issue are international manuscripts from countries like Nigeria and we were also honored to work with other universities within the country and feature some of their students’ articles.

I would like to extend my most sincere gratitude to my team of editors that engaged in a rigorous peer review process to ensure that the articles published are up to standard. As the editorial team, we are quite pleased to see the number of undergraduates involved in research steadily increasing and all the efforts that have been put in by the different stakeholders to see this happen are commendable.

With that said, I hope you enjoy every second of your read!!!


Research and Writers’ Club 2021-2022

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Call for Applications: HEPI Masters Support Fellowship



Panelists L-R: Professor Elsie Kiguli-Malwadde, Professor Francis Omaswa, Professor Jehu Iputo and Professor Joel Okullo at the HEPI-ACHEST Health Professions Education Symposium, 17th June 2022, Makerere University.

Applications are invited for the Health Professional Education Partnership Initiative (HEPI-SHSSU) Masters fellowship programme support from postgraduate students of:

  • Makerere University College of Health Sciences (MakCHS)
  • Kabale University School of Medicine
  • Clarke International University
  • Faculty of Health Sciences, Busitema University

The programme will support graduates in their final year of training leading to the award of a Masters degree on any of the Master’s graduate training programs at the stated University for a maximum of 19 successful candidates.

The closing date for the receipt of applications is 30th September 2022.

Inquiries and Applications must be submitted to

See attachment for more details 

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