AGABA Bekiita Bosco
Molecular Epidemiological Surveillance of pfhrp2 and pfhrp3 gene deletions in Plasmodium falciparum parasite populations in Uganda
Mr. AGABA Bekiita Bosco investigated the biological and molecular changes in malaria parasites that make them difficult to be detected in malaria infected individuals. Once these parasites evade detection, individuals remain untreated leading to severe disease and risk of mortality. The results provide the first large-scale evidence reporting the presence of pfhrp2/3 gene deletions in P. falciparum parasites in Uganda and demonstrated that gene deletions are not confined but rather spread across regions. Further, the study showed that these parasites emerge independently and sponteneously. The findings inform national guidelines for malaria case management and policy for the introduction and deployment of new malaria diagnotic tests. The study was funded by the NIH-Fogarty Malaria training grant and the WHO collaborating center in Australia. The work was supervised by Prof. Moses R. Kamya, Prof. Chae Seung Lim, Dr. Adoke Yeka and Dr. Samuel Nsobya.
Understanding Trends and Trajectories of Repeat Adolescent Birth in Uganda
Ms. AMONGIN Dinah studied the magnitude and explanation for repeat adolescent birth (i.e. a second or higher order live birth before age 20 years, following a first birth before age 18 years) and its later life consequences in Uganda. Her results revealed high repeat adolescent births (over 1 in 2) with slight decline in the 30 years of observation (1988/89-2016) although more women over the years wanted to have this repeat birth later. Results suggest life-long negative socio-economic and reproductive health outcomes among women with repeat adolescent births compared to those without. Further, escalation of the socio-economic distress following first birth, domestic violence, and partner coercion, predisposed adolescent girls to sexual exploitation and unwanted marriages. Interventions should focus on preventing repeat adolescent pregnancy and increasing opportunities for adolescent mothers, with a primary focus on: improving school retention/continuation, strengthening family planning services, and preventing early marriage. This study was funded by Training Health Researchers into Vocational Excellence (THRiVE-2) and was supervised by Assoc. Prof Annettee Nakimuli, Assoc. Prof Lenka Benova, Assoc. Prof Lynn Atuyambe, and Assoc. Prof Claudia Hanson.
KAPAATA ANDAMA Anne
Genotypic And Phenotypic Characterization Of Hiv-1 Transmitted/Founder Viruses And Their Effect On Cytokine Profiles And Disease Progression Among Acutely Infected Ugandans
Ms. KAPAATA ANDAMA Anne looked at Genotypic and Phenotypic Characterization of HIV-1 transmitted/founder viruses and their effect on cytokine profiles and disease progression among acutely infected Ugandans. Subtype analysis of inferred transmitted/founder viruses showed a high transmission rate of inter-subtype recombinants (69%) involving mainly A1/D, while pure subtype D variants accounted for one- third of infections (31%). The signal peptide-C1 region and gp41 transmembrane domain were hotspots for A1/D recombination events. She documented diversity in the functional protein domains across the Gag-Pol region of the HIV virus and identified differences in the Gag-p6 domain that were frequently associated with higher in vitro replication. She also found that HIV-1 subtype D infections had higher concentrations of different cytokines than subtype Ainfections. cytokines IL-12/23p40 and IL-1α were associated with faster CD4+T cell count decline while basic fibroblast growth factor was associated with maintenance of CD4+T cell count above 350cells/microliter. This work was funded by the International AIDS Vaccine initiative and supervised by Prof. Pontiano Kaleebu, Eric Hunter and Moses Joloba and Dr Jesus Salazar Gonzalez.
Modern contraceptive use among female refugee adolescents in northern Uganda: prevalence, effect of peer counselling, adherence and experiences
Ms. BAKESIIMA Ritah studied modern contraceptive use among female refugee adolescents northern Uganda: the prevalence, effect of peer counselling, adherence, and experiences. She found that the use of modern contraceptives among sexually active adolescents was very low with less than 10% using a method, and yet they wanted to delay child birth. This highlights a high unmet need of contraceptives in this population. She also found that peer counselling had a positive effect on acceptance of modern contraceptives; participants who received peer counselling were more likely to accept a contraceptive method compared to those who received routine counselling. The commonest reasons for non-acceptance of a method were partner prohibition and fear of side effects. She recommends that refugee adolescents, together with their partners, are further sensitized of the dangers of teenage pregnancy, and the benefits of contraception in preventing teenage pregnancy and associated complications. This research was funded by SIDA and supervised by Assoc. Prof Elin Larsson, Dr. Jolly Beyeza-Kashesya, Prof. Kristina Gemzell-Danielsson, Dr. Amanda Cleeve, and Dr. Rose Chalo Nabirye.
Role of Vaginal Microbiome in Host Susceptibility of HIV Infection in Pregnant Ugandan Women: Inflammatory Response and Epithelial Barrier Integrity
Mr. BAYIGGA Lois investigated the virginal microbial diversity and its immune-modulatory effects on host susceptibility to HIV among pregnant women in Uganda. In the results, the vaginal microbiome of pregnant women in the cross-sectional study was categorised into four distinct cervicotypes. In conclusion, African women had a more diverse vaginal microbiome relative to women in the America and Europe as observed in the literature. This work was supervised by Prof. Damalie Nakanjako, Dr. David Patrict Kateete, Dr. Musa Sekikubo and Prof. Deborah Anderson.
MIJUMBI Deve Rhona
Rapid Response Services to Support Policymaking in Uganda
Ms. MIJUMBI Deve Rhona evaluated the rapid response mechanisms aimed at providing evidence for policymaking in Uganda, including their feasibility and establishment, their uptake amongst the users along with these users’ experiences with them. She was able to determine and confirm the feasibility of an RRS in Uganda and map the establishment, growth, and evolution of the service. She was also able to document the important factors that led to the establishment of the service, then used this information to develop a theoretical framework combining the structural and temporal components of the development of an RRS and the factors important at each stage. She also established the important factors that influence the uptake of the RRS amongst its actual and potential users and also explored the users’ experience with the rapid response (RR) briefs produced by the RRS and used her findings to improve these briefs. The findings from this work are important to enable the use of evidence for decision-making at different levels of governance globally, especially in complex situations where time is barred. The work was funded by the International Development Research Center’s International Research Chairs Initiative and supervised by Prof. Nelson Sewankambo, Prof. John Lavis, and Dr. Andrew Oxman.
An analysis of evolutions in maternal health policies and implementation adaptations in Uganda during the MDG period (2000-2015)
Mr. MUKURU Moses analysed Uganda’s maternal health policies introduced during the fifteen years of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG period) to understand policy failure. This followed the persistence of high preventable maternal mortality, which closed at a Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) of 368 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2015 below the target of 131 deaths per 100,000 live births. While most studies explain the failure to achieve maternal health policy targets from epidemiological, interventional and health systems perspectives, this study examined how elite interests underpinning maternal health policies, policy design and implementation influenced maternal health policy failure in Uganda. The study found that the failure to achieve policy targets and persistence of high maternal mortality despite introducing fourteen policy shifts emanated from a complex interplay of factors at the policy formulation, design and implementation levels. Policy elites developed policies which mainly served their selfish political and economic interests while paying limited attention to the goal of reducing maternal mortality. The policy instruments introduced were incoherent, inconsistent and incomprehensive to cover all the causes of maternal mortality rendering the policies ineffective in design. Consequently, maternal health policies could not be fully operationalised at the frontline to support timely response to all the emergencies that cause maternal death. The study was funded by DAAD, the Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research, Switzerland, through the University of Cape Town, South Africa, the “Support Policy Engagements for Evidence informed (SPEED)” and was supervised by Professor Freddie Ssengooba and Dr Suzanne Kiwanuka.
Obstructed labour in Eastern Uganda: risk factors, electrolyte derangements, and effect of bicarbonate on obstetric outcomes
Dr. MUSABA Milton studied the risk factors, electrolyte derangements, and effect of bicarbonate on obstetric outcomes among women with Obstructed labour (OL). Failure of a woman to give birth normally is called OL. It is often associated with poor outcomes for both the mother and baby, if the intervention (surgical) is not timely. In Uganda, one in five maternal deaths and two in five perinatal deaths are attributed to OL. The risk factors were being a first-time mother, using herbal medicines, and being referred in labour. While being married, having a delivery plan, and an educated partner were protective. Perioperatively, multiple electrolyte derangements were common. Perinatal death was four times higher than the national average, and the predictors were being referred and having a high maternal blood lactate level. Sodium bicarbonate infusion had no significant beneficial or harmful effect. Developing birth and complication readiness plans may help to minimize delays and multiple referrals in case of an emergency. To minimize the effects of metabolic and electrolyte derangements in OL, healthcare providers need to ensure that these patients are well rehydrated especially during transfer to a higher facility. This study was funded by NORHED/NORAD and was supervised by Prof. Grace Ndeezi, Prof. Julius N. Wandabwa, Dr. Justus K. Barageine, and Prof. Andrew D. Weeks
Burden and risk factors for child developmental disability among infants in Busoga region, in Uganda
Dr. NAMAZZI Gertrude investigated the burden and risk factors for child developmental disability among infants in Busoga region, in Uganda. The study revealed a high burden of child developmental disability at population level and among preterm babies. The caretakers of children with developmental disability expressed emotional stress and an impoverishing experience with limited support from the community and the health system. The key risk factors included: birth asphyxia, malnutrition, newborn infections, and a mother having more than three children. The study findings indicate the need to improve the quality of care during delivery and the postnatal period to prevent birth asphyxia, neonatal infections and malnutrition so as to curb the burden of child developmental disability. In addition, parents should limit the number of children to those they are able to nurture and care for adequately. The study recommends to government to improve the health facility readiness to respond to caretakers’ needs and the needs of children with developmental disability so as to empower families, while respecting their beliefs, to cope with adversity. The study was funded by SIDA and was supervised by Prof. James Tumwine, Assoc. Prof. Peter Waiswa and Assoc. Prof. Helena.
NANKYA Mutyoba Eron Joan
Hepatitis B. Among Ugandan pregnant women: Studies on Epidemiology, knowledge, perceptions and behavioural intentions
Ms. NANKYA Mutyoba Eron Joan investigated the epidemiology, knowledge, perceptions and behavioural intentions associated with Hepatitis B among Ugandan pregnant women. The study was conducted among pregnant women attending routine Antenatal Care in public health facilities in Kampala, Wakiso and Arua Districts. In the results, the overall prevalence of Hepatitis B. Virus infection was 6.1%. Pregnant women in Uganda have a high burden of the virus with significant regional differences, low knowledge and inaccurate perceptions of the virus. This study was funded by SIDA and was supervised by Assoc Prof. Ponsiano Ocama, Asoc Prof. Fredrick Makumbi and Assoc Prof. Lynn Atuyambe.
ODEI OBENG-AMOAKO Gloria Adobea
Retrospective analysis of concurrently wasted and stunted children 6-59 months in the outpatient therapeutic feeding programme in Karamoja: burden, characteristics, detection, response to treatment and outcomes
Ms. ODEI Obeng-Amoako Gloria Adobea examined the burden, characteristics and detection of concurrently wasted and stunted among children under 5 years, and their response to treatment and outcomes in the outpatient therapeutic feeding programme in Karamoja. She found that 5% of children under-5 years in Karamoja were wasted and stunted concurrently. Concurrent wasting and stunting was common among children younger than 3 years and particularly males. She identified optimal weight for age z-score (WAZ) and mid upper arm circumference (MUAC) thresholds for detecting children with concurrent wasting and stunting. Nearly half (49%) of children with severe acute malnutrition receiving outpatient therapeutic care were concurrently wasted and stunted and had lower recovery rate. The study will inform decision-making on integrated wasting and stunting prevention and treatment policy and programme. This study was funded by Carnegie Corporation of New York through RUFORUM, UNICEF Uganda; and African Union and European Union-Intra-ACP Mobility Partnering for Health Professionals Training in African Universities (P4HPT) and supervised by Assoc. Prof Charles A. S. Karamagi and Dr. Henry Wamani.
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Mak’s GMI Labs Authorized to Conduct DNA Paternity Testing
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.
MNCH e-Post Issue 121: Learning from Nsambya Hospital Human Milk Bank to inform national scale-up & save preterm babies
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
METS Newsletter October 2023
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.
- 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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