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Veterinary & Biosecurity

Climate Change and Infectious Diseases, A One Heal Approach project launched at CoVAB

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Makerere University College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Bio Security (CoVAB), in collaboration with University of Tromsø (UiT) Norway, University of Bahr El Ghazal (UBG) South Sudan, and University of South Eastern Norway (USN) are set to implement the Climate Change and Infectious Diseases – A One Health Approach (CIDIMOH) project.

The six-year Project supported by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) under the Norwegian Program for Capacity Building in Higher Education Research for Development (NORHED II) was launched on 13th June 2022.

The Deputy Vice Chancellor Finance and Administration Prof. Henry Alinaitwe (R) addresses stakeholders at the event.
The Deputy Vice Chancellor Finance and Administration Prof. Henry Alinaitwe (R) addresses stakeholders at the event.

One of the major outputs of the project will be the development of a critical mass of skilled human resource that will support the development of the innovative interventions in teaching and research for the future management of infectious diseases.  A total of 6 multidisciplinary PhDs, 6 Masters students were to be supported by the project. Staff were to be offered Post Doc research opportunities and there were plans to run diploma and short courses  for varied professionals.

The project will also enhance sustainable and multi-disciplinary scientific networks across communities, institutions and countries to better address climate change and zoonotic diseases and  promote strong community driven engagement strategies aimed at establishing a two-way understanding, communication and exchange of knowledge on the   challenges and sustainable solutions to climate change and infectious diseases in Uganda and South Sudan.

Prof. Morten Tryland the CIDIMOH project Principal Investigator.
Prof. Morten Tryland the CIDIMOH project Principal Investigator.

The Vice Chancellor Makerere University, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe who was represented by Deputy Vice Chancellor Finance and Administration Prof. Henry Alinaitwe officiated at the launch that was attended by representatives from the partner Universities. In his address, the Vice Chancellor commended the great contribution the project was set to make in the areas of capacity building and curriculum review. He pointed out that the project was relevant given the many diseases that were coming up due to changes in the ecosystem and hence the need to put in place measures to address them. He expressed the university’s commitment to support the project through close supervision as well as infrastructure for the staff and the students.

Dr. Clovice Kankya, Head of department of Biosecurity, Ecosystems and Veterinary Public Health at College of Veterinary Animal Resources and Biosecurity (CoVAB) said some of the major outputs of the project would be the establishment of a center of excellence that will coordinate and provide solutions to climate change and zoonotic diseases management in the countries. He said effort will be made to ensure a community-driven platform that would help create awareness involving the youths, children and women in key hotspot areas in Uganda and South Sudan. The Community aspect he said, will also be key in implementing this fight through engagements, awareness programs, provision of documentation in form of brochures, books and others and sensitizing them on the dos and don’ts of controlling Zoonotic diseases.

Prof. Clovice Kankya, the Head, Department of BioSecurity, Ecosystems and Veterinary Public Health at CoVAB.
Prof. Clovice Kankya, the Head, Department of BioSecurity, Ecosystems and Veterinary Public Health at CoVAB.

Prof. Morten Tryland the Principal Investigator from The Arctic University of Norway revealed that the Norwegian government had donated 10 million Norwegian Kroner to run activities in the 6 years CIDIMOH project.  He said the decision to collaborate with Makerere University and University of Barl El Ghazal was for purposes of combining expertise in infectious biology and social sciences to come up with one approach to this project. About small pox, Tryland mentioned that the disease directly falls into zoonotic diseases (animal to human spread) and that it spreads through contact but can be avoided. He said it is identified when someone has skin rashes, fever then blisters on skin however gave hope that it can vaccinated against.

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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Veterinary & Biosecurity

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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