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Veterinary & Biosecurity

CoVAB’s PRESIDE Projects in the 2022 National Pathogen Economy Symposium

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By Jacinta Nakaye

CoVAB’s science, research, and innovations shared facility, the Centre for Biosecurity and Global Health (CEBIGH) hosted a team from Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation together with a distinguished Professor, John B. Kaneene from Michigan State University on 10th May 2022 for an evaluation activity of its PRESIDE Projects.

During a meeting which was held in the facility’s conference room, the Principal Investigator of the Centre, Prof. John David Kabasa appreciated the government of Uganda for supporting the College research and innovation programs. He also appreciated Prof. Kaneene for his mentorship in ensuring that CEBIGH is an internationally standardized reference laboratory.

“We acknowledge the President of the Republic of Uganda, H.E. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni and the Government of Uganda for their support towards research, science, technology and innovation. CEBIGH is a platform for all researchers/scientists to discover solutions to the world’s problems and develop innovations,” said Prof. Kabasa. Adding that, during the structural developments of the facility, Prof. Kaneene was a key adviser on ensuring that the CEBIGH fulfills the requirements for an internationally recognized laboratory.

The Director of CEBIGH Prof. Enock Matovu highlighted on the Centre’s progress and projects it is currently focusing on.

The Centre for Biosecurity and Global Health (CEBIGH) leadership together with evaluators from Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation and Michigan State University in a meeting on CEBIGH being a major actor in the Pathogen Economy which was held on 10th May, 2022 in the Centre Conference room.
The Centre for Biosecurity and Global Health (CEBIGH) leadership together with evaluators from Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation and Michigan State University in a meeting on CEBIGH being a major actor in the Pathogen Economy which was held on 10th May, 2022 in the Centre Conference room.

“CEBIGH is critical on developing drugs and vaccines as a solution to minimize and end existing and emerging diseases that distress humans, animals, plant life and the entire ecosystem,” reported Prof. Matovu.

He further gave a highlight on the different PRESIDE research projects housed in CEBIGH which included;

The COVID-19 Biomarker Project by Dr. Kato Charles Drago (Principal Investigator), which is running research on the different classes of COVID- 19 infections to reduce on the burden of patient crowds in hospitals. This research project seeks for markers that are used in classification of COVID- 19 infections and groups the patients into; the controls, symptomatic, asymptomatic and severe based on their markers. The project is as well developing diagnostic kits that will be used for early prediction of who is likely to become severe in infection.

COVID-19 Sub- Unit Vaccine Project by Prof. Matovu Enock (Principal Investigator), which is producing a COVID-19 Vaccine.

Saliva Diagnostic Kit by Prof. Charles Ibingira (Principal Investigator), which is developing time saving cost friendly COVID-19 test kits.

The Director, CEBIGH, Prof. Enock Matovu making his remarks on the progress of the PRESIDE Projects housed in the Centre as major actors in the Pathogen economy during the evaluation meeting held in the Centre conference room on 10th May 2022.
The Director, CEBIGH, Prof. Enock Matovu making his remarks on the progress of the PRESIDE Projects housed in the Centre as major actors in the Pathogen economy during the evaluation meeting held in the Centre conference room on 10th May 2022.

Central Laboratory Animal Research Facility (CLARF) by Prof. John David Kabasa (Principal Investigator) and Dr. Edward Wampande (Co-Principal Investigator), which is a reference laboratory with a breeding unit for lab animals and a trial unit to test the efficacy of developed vaccines and drugs.

This activity was followed by a guided tour led by Prof. Matovu to the Center’s Biosafety Levels 2 and 3, and the Central Laboratory Animal Research Facility which is still under construction.

After the visit to the facilities in the Centre, Prof. Kaneene applauded the work well done by the Centre leadership. He however advised that there’s need to consider recruitment of highly specialized personnel in the reference animal facility which is in completion stages of construction. 

Presidential Scientific Initiative on Epidemics (PRESIDE), is responsible for the fast-tracking of research and innovations of Vaccines, Drugs and Therapeutics as response to emerging diseases and other public health threats.

CEBIGH is one of those units directed by H.E. the President of the Republic of Uganda to be established at Makerere University in realization of a regional Veterinary College, College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Biosecurity (CoVAB). It is one of the research and development service entities that are repositioning CoVAB to become a major driver of science, strategic research and service nationally, regionally and globally, hence a major actor in the pathogen economy.

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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Rabies Exposure Assessment & Contact Tracing App (REACT), another milestone in rabies surveillance in Uganda; A status update of the implementation of the eRabies project

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Principal Investigator, Dr. Terrence Odoch, (L) Prof. Sonja Hartnack from the University of Zurich (R). College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Biosecurity (CoVAB), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda and the Universities of Zurich and Bern, funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation, eRabies project, Rabies Exposure Assessment & Contact Tracing (REACT) App Pilot, 2nd - 3rd May 2024, Arua District, Uganda, East Africa.

The eRabies project was launched in March 2023 at the Centre for Biosecurity and Global Health, Makerere University. To date, a lot has been realized through several stakeholders working together toward the global goal of eliminating dog-mediated rabies by 2030.

This project is a collaboration between Makerere University‘s College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Biosecurity, and the Universities of Zurich and Bern, and funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation.

The four-year intervention through its seven work streams was initially implemented in the Districts of Kampala, Soroti, and Kyegegwa and has stretched to include Arua, courtesy of other stakeholders including the NGO Mission Rabies that came on board along the way.

By the time of the launch, the stakeholders involved included Makerere University College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Biosecurity (CoVAB), School of Public Health, College of Health Sciences, and the Infectious Diseases Institute (IDI), working in collaboration with the Universities of Bern and Zurich from Switzerland.

Prof. Sonja Hartnack from the University of Zurich spoke at the project launch at CoVAB. College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Biosecurity (CoVAB), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda and the Universities of Zurich and Bern, funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation, eRabies project, Rabies Exposure Assessment & Contact Tracing (REACT) App Pilot, 2nd - 3rd May 2024, Arua District, Uganda, East Africa.
Prof. Sonja Hartnack from the University of Zurich spoke at the project launch at CoVAB.

According to Prof. Sonja Hartnack, from the Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Zurich, the project has addressed several work packages in addition to the initial Surveillance systems and integrated dog bite case management. During a project brief with staff at the College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Biosecurity recently, it was revealed that the four-year project has made great strides as evidenced by the outcomes of several workshops conducted.

Prof. Sonja Hartnack said further to efforts towards the electronic surveillance of dog bites which started with the launch workshop held in August 2023, another workshop was held in Arua on May 2-3, 2024 for the pilot of the REACT App, a tool created by CDC and Mission Rabies for Integrated Bite Case Management. REACT is the abbreviation for Rabies Exposure Assessment & Contact Tracing App. The workshop brought together stakeholders from both animal and human health sectors, drawn from the district to national levels.  During the workshop, there were in-depth discussions regarding the current rabies surveillance system across the four target districts in Uganda.  The meeting explored how the REACT App can enhance the integrated bite case management system and data management process in rabies.

Participants at the e-rabies surveillance workshop in Arua, May 2nd -3rd, 2024. (Courtesy photo) College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Biosecurity (CoVAB), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda and the Universities of Zurich and Bern, funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation, eRabies project, Rabies Exposure Assessment & Contact Tracing (REACT) App Pilot, 2nd - 3rd May 2024, Arua District, Uganda, East Africa.
Participants at the e-rabies surveillance workshop in Arua, May 2nd -3rd, 2024. (Courtesy photo)

Prof. Sonja Hartnack who was in the company of CoVAB’s Terrence Odoch and Prof. Clovice Kankya said the pilot was to focus on integrated bite case management. This is the very first part which is still ongoing and there were concrete follow-up plans to try and foster this integrated bite case management. The Data to be collected was from both the point of view of the human-dog bite victim, but also captures whether the dog was vaccinated, provoked, killed, and a sample taken, all adding up in a true multi-sectoral and one health approach, she observed.

For the second work package which is about community engagement for rabies vaccination and dog bite prevention, she said there was already one Master’s student thesis submitted following both a qualitative and quantitative approach, and currently the student was finalizing the manuscript. Similarly, a paper on the Barriers to Vaccination at the community level and responsible dog ownership on the perceptions of dog owners was also written.

Participants discussed strategies for effective implementation of the intervention. College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Biosecurity (CoVAB), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda and the Universities of Zurich and Bern, funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation, eRabies project, Rabies Exposure Assessment & Contact Tracing (REACT) App Pilot, 2nd - 3rd May 2024, Arua District, Uganda, East Africa.
Participants discussed strategies for effective implementation of the intervention.

The other studies she said, focused on the identification of one strategy through a sensitization campaign.  This would include many respects including mobilizing dog owners to bring their dogs for mass vaccination on selected days and places. Such places like Schools, she said, would enable educating the children.  The other option would be conducting mass vaccination campaigns integrated with livestock activities whereby the communities will be asked to come with their dogs close to a point in the farm or to organize jointly with the human health activities.

Participants from the implementing districts of Kyegegwa, Soroti, and Kampala where some of the interventions are ongoing. College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Biosecurity (CoVAB), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda and the Universities of Zurich and Bern, funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation, eRabies project, Rabies Exposure Assessment & Contact Tracing (REACT) App Pilot, 2nd - 3rd May 2024, Arua District, Uganda, East Africa.
Participants from the implementing districts of Kyegegwa, Soroti, and Kampala where some of the interventions are ongoing.

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