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Veterinary & Biosecurity

WHO in an appraisal Visit to CoVAB

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The World Health Organisation Regional Experts Advisory Committee on Traditional Medicine for Covid-19 Response on Monday 7th March 2022 visited the College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Bio Security (CoVAB) to take stock of the developments in clinical trials and other efforts in the development of drugs and vaccines to address COVID 19.

The team that made a guided tour of the facilities and activities undertaken in the Centre for Bio Security and Global Health (CeBIGH) was also briefed about a number of ongoing studies.

The Head of the delegation of the WHO/REACT mission Prof. Joseph Okeibunor said the team of regional experts was at the college to take a look at the infrastructure in place, document the successes so far realised in the clinical efforts, identify gaps and to make recommendations for further support towards the ongoing efforts.

The Principal COVAB Prof. Frank Mwiine (2nd L) and Prof. John David Kabasa (L) with the team from WHO.

He said the visiting team would identify areas of support towards the acceleration of the processes of the development of traditional medicine to address COVID- 19.

Prof. Joseph Okeibunor was happy to note that there were already a number of successful interventions in the use of traditional medicine in the treatment of COVID 19, citing the example of the remedy in Madagascar and that the mission of the world Health organization at COVAB was to take stock of what was happening in regard to the processing of Traditional Medicine in order to ensure standardization and proper packaging to levels that were internationally satisfactory.

He said their mission in the college was to make a rapid appraisal of the available capacities in regard to internationally set standards and also come up with a plan to provide technical support in raising the national capacity in the development of Traditional medicine.

Prof Matovu Enoch guiding the team during the tour of the bio security Center.

While welcoming the team to the College, Prof. Norbert Frank Mwiine, the Principal CoVAB said Makerere University was celebrating 100 years of its existence and that this period was characterized by lots of research output in the region and globally.  He said Uganda and Africa in general was naturally endowed and that in the past parents and grandparents used traditional medicine for various ailments including treatment of cattle.  He urged researchers to take on the duty of identifying such knowledge and information the way it was passed on to the present generation.

He said the College had for the past sixteen years been involved in research with a number of successful outcomes as evidenced in Covidex, a product by Professor Ogwang, who was one of the beneficiaries of the programs offered at the College. He said the President of the republic of Uganda gave a go ahead to such products in order to increase the care for the people infected with COVID 19, amidst the limited number of vaccinated people and that the College was proud to be associated with the success realised.

‘In western Uganda where I grew up, I learnt how to treat animals using traditional medicine, he said adding that the ongoing research at the College is embracing ethnobotany and not purely western medicines.

The representative form the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation said as a Ministry, they were proud of CoVAB and that researchers at the College were some of the initial Scientists the Ministry worked with in the establishment of central laboratory facilities and drug development.  She commended the contribution made by Prof. John David Kabasa as Principal Investigator who was instrumental in the implementation of this Presidential Initiative since the year 2020 that helped in nurturing the pathogen economy. ‘We needed central facilities because many institutions were not in position to set up such initiatives’ she said. She noted that the Scientists were ready for the clinical trials as well as animal trials despite the gaps identified. She said the ministry set up a number of teams of innovators some in the academia while others were out there in the communities.

In order to appreciate the positioning of traditional medicine in the College, a presentation was made about the central Laboratory Animal Research Facility (CLARF). It was explained that the process was on to establish a state of the Art animal house to include both large and small experimental animals at CoVAB for production, testing and diagnosis therapeutics.

The goal was to commercially produce biological molecules for diagnosis, treatment and control of infectious diseases as well as breed and sell lab animal services

Prof. Enoch Matovu further illustrated a number of ongoing research projects in the Centre for Bio Security and Global Health, a centre focused on strategic research.  These included the Anti-Tick Vaccine development project, the Safe fish project, COVID 19 Elisa surveillance and the COVID 19 Sub Unit Vaccine among many others.

The WHO team among others comprised of Ossy M.J Kasilo, Regional Advisor for Traditional Medicine from Brazaville Congo, Prof Motlalepulan G. Matsabisa from University of Free State, South Africa.

The Visit by the team from WHO follows a number of earlier processes that started off with the Office of the President’s decision to drive 8 industrial value chains that were prioritised for development one of which was the pathogen economy or pathogen Industrial chains.  One of the components of these industrial chains was in the natural products or herbal industry under the stewardship of Prof. John David Kabasa.

CoVAB was identified as a major stakeholder in the natural products Industry in Uganda and Africa. It hosted and coordinated the development of African natural herbal products, research and training network which involved a number of countries in east Africa including Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Malawi. To date, The network has trained over 20 PhDs and 38 MSC Scientists.

Veterinary & Biosecurity

Makerere University Anti-Tick Vaccine Project Committee Visits Production Site in Namanve

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Makerere University Anti-Tick Vaccine Project Committee visit to Alfasan Uganda Ltd on 24th June 2024, Namanve, Waikiso Uganda, East Africa.

The Makerere University Anti-Tick Vaccine Project Committee visited Alfasan Uganda Ltd on 24th June 2024 to review the advancements in the Anti-tick vaccine project, particularly focusing on the progress in the establishment of the vaccine production line at Alfasan Uganda Limited. This visit signifies a significant milestone in the ongoing partnership between Makerere University and Alfasan, as they work together towards the creation of a successful Anti-Tick vaccine.

The Principal Investigator (PI) of the Anti-Tick Vaccine Project, Dr. Margaret Saimo-Kahwa welcomed the team and gave a brief overview of the project’s operations. She highlighted Alfasan’s expertise in manufacturing veterinary and human drugs and the suggestion by H.E, the President of Uganda gave in view of the collaboration between Alfasan and Makerere University for the production of the Anti-Tick vaccine. The PI assured team that Alfasan was fully equipped to develop the vaccine in  adherence with the standards set by the National Drug Authority.

Dr. Margaret Saimo-Kahwa, PI of the Anti-Tick Vaccine showing the Committee some of the verification equipment at Alfasan. Makerere University Anti-Tick Vaccine Project Committee visit to Alfasan Uganda Ltd on 24th June 2024, Namanve, Wakiso Uganda, East Africa.
Dr. Margaret Saimo-Kahwa, PI of the Anti-Tick Vaccine showing the Committee some of the verification equipment at Alfasan.

The Managing Director of Alfasan, Dr. Stephen Birungi said he was delighted to work with Makerere University, where he once studied at the College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources, and Biosecurity (CoVAB). He said a successful collaboration was key in ensuring further advancements and innovations in the field of veterinary medicine.

The Chairperson of Makerere University’s Anti-Tick Vaccine Project Steering Committee, Prof. Henry Alinaitwe emphasized the national significance of the project, and that it was catered for in the national budget. He outlined the division of equipment between Makerere University and Alfasan, stressing the importance of the visit to assess the progress at the Anti-Tick Vaccine production site in Namanve.

The Chairperson of Makerere University Anti-Tick Vaccine Project Committee, who is also the Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Finance and Administration, Prof. Henry Alinaitwe, together with the CoVAB Principal Prof. Frank Norbert Mwiine took a guided tour around the Vaccine Production Facility. Makerere University Anti-Tick Vaccine Project Committee visit to Alfasan Uganda Ltd on 24th June 2024, Namanve, Wakiso Uganda, East Africa.
The Chairperson of Makerere University Anti-Tick Vaccine Project Committee, who is also the Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Finance and Administration, Prof. Henry Alinaitwe, together with the CoVAB Principal Prof. Frank Norbert Mwiine took a guided tour around the Vaccine Production Facility.

The facility Pharmacist at Alfasan, Mr. Ivan Kafeero provided a brief history of the company, highlighting its transformation from an international collaboration to a prominent private entity in Uganda. The collaboration between Alfasan and Makerere University resulted in the joint production of a laboratory experimental vaccine in 2022, necessitating the facility’s upgrade to accommodate vaccine production alongside pharmaceuticals.

During the tour of the vaccine production facility led by Mr. Kafeero, various departments were showcased, including raw material warehouses, production sections, laboratories, and packaging rooms. The comprehensive tour demonstrated the facility’s readiness for vaccine production and emphasized the critical need for sustainable energy and water sources to support the operations effectively.

The Project Committee and the Project team during the guided tour around the vaccine manufacturing facility led by the facility Pharmacist, Mr. Ivan Kafeero. Makerere University Anti-Tick Vaccine Project Committee visit to Alfasan Uganda Ltd on 24th June 2024, Namanve, Wakiso Uganda, East Africa.
The Project Committee and the Project team during the guided tour around the vaccine manufacturing facility led by the facility Pharmacist, Mr. Ivan Kafeero.
The Project Committee and the Project team during the guided tour around the vaccine manufacturing facility led by the facility Pharmacist, Mr. Ivan Kafeero. Makerere University Anti-Tick Vaccine Project Committee visit to Alfasan Uganda Ltd on 24th June 2024, Namanve, Wakiso Uganda, East Africa.
The Project Committee and the Project team during the guided tour around the vaccine manufacturing facility led by the facility Pharmacist, Mr. Ivan Kafeero.

Following discussions and observations during the visit, the Committee Chairperson commended the progress achieved thus far and confirmed plans for a follow-up visit in two months to monitor the facility’s operational readiness for commencing production.

The collaborative partnership between Makerere University and Alfasan signifies a ground-breaking initiative in animal healthcare research and underscores the potential for significant advancements in combating tick-borne diseases through innovative collaborations and dedicated efforts.

The meeting between Makerere University Anti-Tick Vaccine Project Committee, the Anti-Tick Vaccine Project team, and the Team from Alfasan on 24th June 2024. Makerere University Anti-Tick Vaccine Project Committee visit to Alfasan Uganda Ltd on 24th June 2024, Namanve, Wakiso Uganda, East Africa.
The meeting between Makerere University Anti-Tick Vaccine Project Committee, the Anti-Tick Vaccine Project team, and the Team from Alfasan on 24th June 2024.

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Veterinary & Biosecurity

CoVAB Annual Report 2023

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The Principal CoVAB, Prof. Frank Norbert Mwiine. College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Biosecurity (CoVAB), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.

It is my pleasure to share the Annual Report for the year 2023, which highlights various milestones realized in the College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources, and Biosecurity. First and foremost, I wish to congratulate all of us for the input rendered in the running of the college during the period, which effort made us score in several areas as prescribed by the mandate of the college and Makerere University as a whole.

Our mandate is teaching and learning, research and innovation, as well as knowledge transfer and partnerships. As you will realize in this report, this task has been handled meticulously through a concerted effort by all stakeholders, the students, the teaching, and the administrative staff and partners. The college takes pride in the contribution made by our partners who continue to support us in the delivery of the mandate in varied ways, such as Norbrook (U) Ltd, which since 2021 has continued to prize the best performing Veterinary students with cash prizes every year.

The College continues to excel in research and community outreach as evidenced by the increased research output in several Biomedical and Applied research projects with support from the Government of Uganda and our development partners which for instance resulted in the establishment of a Biomarker discovery and translation research laboratory at COVAB. Equipment was procured to support the development of point-of-care diagnostic kits for infectious and non-communicable diseases including cancer. The goal is to translate identified biomarkers into point-of-care diagnostics for both human and veterinary medicine. The platform supports drug target discovery and elucidation of drug action mechanisms.

The college hosts a Central Laboratory Animal Research Facility that support pre-clinical studies in animal models for vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics, alongside refurbished laboratories at Biosafety Levels 2 and 3 (BSL2, BSL3), fitted with state-of-the-art equipment to execute cutting edge basic and applied research.

This and other efforts strategically place CoVAB and Makerere at large in a position to confront major animal and even human health challenges as significant proportions of emerging and reemerging infectious diseases are of animal origin (Zoonotic).

We are looking forward to an even more successful period ahead of us, and together definitely we shall achieve all we set out to do.

Prof. Frank Nobert Mwiine
PRINCIPAL

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Veterinary & Biosecurity

The 2024 Summer School and the International Cultural Boma and AFROHUN Showcase at CoVAB

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Participants follow proceedings. The 2024 Summer School and the International Cultural Boma and AFROHUN Showcase, June 20th, 2024, Ruth Keesling Centre, College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources, and Biosecurity (CoVAB), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.

The 2024 Summer School and the International Cultural Boma and AFROHUN Showcase was held on June 20th, 2024, at the Ruth Keeslings Centre, College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources, and Biosecurity, and for the first time involved CoVAB students.

The Boma was the final event of this year’s CoVAB-Mississippi State University’s (MSU) Tropical Veterinary Medicine and One Health Study Abroad program which started on May 31, 2024. The study abroad course focuses on animal production and health management, conservation medicine, aquatic health, wildlife health, public health, food safety, and security, as well as inculcating One Health principles while suffusing multicultural experiences.

During the presentations, the participants expressed what they enjoyed most while on the program and this included observing the human-wildlife interactions, working on wildlife and the identified difference between the US and Uganda, the animal welfare champion, as well as having Ugandan students included on the program.

Prof. Frank Nobert Mwiine, CoVAB Principal (C) Dr. Sarah Nalule, HoD WAAR (L) and Dr. David Kahwa Lecturer WAAR (R). The 2024 Summer School and the International Cultural Boma and AFROHUN Showcase, June 20th, 2024, Ruth Keesling Centre, College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources, and Biosecurity (CoVAB), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Prof. Frank Nobert Mwiine, CoVAB Principal (C) Dr. Sarah Nalule, HoD WAAR (L) and Dr. David Kahwa Lecturer WAAR (R).

The Principal, Prof. Frank Nobert Mwiine officiated at the event characterized by sharing the student’s experiences through presentations made before academicians, researchers, and students.  In his remarks, he said the Boma was a great avenue for sharing information and learning from each other drawing from the experiences of the students while out in the community and the wild. Prof. Mwiine commended Mississippi State University for the long relationship they have had with CoVAB and appreciated the inclusion of the Uganda students into the program. He expressed optimism that the summer school will grow into problem-solving partnerships in research, training, and community development.

During the three weeks excursions in Uganda, participating students from Mississippi State University together with their counterparts from CoVAB engaged in experiential field trips with hands-on experience at the interfaces between animals, humans, and the environment.

The Team from Mississippi University appreciated CoVAB for the lead role in organizing the Summer School that brought the students into contact with new areas with most of them being in Africa for the first time.  He said the summer school was opening up opportunities for further collaboration in areas like student exchange programs as well as graduate research.  It was a great experience for the students to move out of their area to the unknown and the exposure left lifelong in print on the student’s academic, practice, and outlook towards life, said the representative of Prof. Stephen Reichley, the team leader.

Participants pose for a group picture in front of the Centre for Global Health, CoVAB. The 2024 Summer School and the International Cultural Boma and AFROHUN Showcase, June 20th, 2024, Ruth Keesling Centre, College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources, and Biosecurity (CoVAB), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Participants pose for a group picture in front of the Centre for Global Health, CoVAB.

Dr. Celsus Sente the Summer School coordinator and lecturer in the Department of Wildlife and Aquatic Resources (WAAR) said the three-week expedition was a great field experiential learning opportunity using one health approach.  Students went to different places including Gaba Fish Landing Site, the Murchison conservation area, Mbarara Abattoir where they interacted with the meat inspectors, Kibaale conservation area where they observed wildlife practical activities like birds, undertook activities involving cattle, and goats as well as the feel of the interface between the environment, humans, and animal health, the one health approach at the fishing villages there.

A team makes a presentation at the Boma. The 2024 Summer School and the International Cultural Boma and AFROHUN Showcase, June 20th, 2024, Ruth Keesling Centre, College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources, and Biosecurity (CoVAB), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
A team makes a presentation at the Boma.

The Boma as a concept in an African context means a meeting that allows learning and a two-way exchange of information between elders and youngsters. African culture involves the transfer of wisdom and knowledge from wise, knowledgeable, and highly experienced elders to the young who are mentored into responsible community members. The concept was therefore used to allow the opportunity to share knowledge from all stakeholders as experienced in the course of learning.

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