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BMGF Program Officer Sambisa Pays Courtesy Call to Mak



Kampala -Uganda: Makerere University acting Deputy Vice Chancellor Finance & Administration, Prof. Tonny J. Oyana on Monday July 4th 2022 received Dr. William Sambisa from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) in company of the Dean, Makerere University School of Public Health (MakSPH) Prof. Rhoda Wanyenze.

Dr Sambisa, who is also the Program Officer for the COVID-19 Response and Shaping Policy in Eastern, Central and Western Africa (COVID Assessment project), a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation funded project at MakSPH was on a 3-days visit to Makerere University as part of the evaluation of the project as it comes to an end.

The project has been implemented in partnership with several universities from the eastern, central, and western Africa including the University of Cheikh Anta Diop Dakar, Senegal; the University of Ibadan, Nigeria; the University of Kinshasa, DRC; and the University of Ghana.

This project sought to assess and curate the response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Africa and the outcomes in terms of COVID-19 control and continuity of essential non-COVID-19 health services within the COVID-19 period, to inform the COVID-19 response and recovery as well as health system resilience to future disease outbreaks in Africa.

Dr. William Sambisa signs the visitors Book at the Makerere University Deputy Vice Chancellor Finance and Administration's office.
Dr. William Sambisa signs the visitors Book at the Makerere University Deputy Vice Chancellor Finance and Administration’s office.

Prof. Wanyenze is the Principal Investigator of the COVID Assessment project for Uganda. She has been working alongside Dr. Suzanne Kiwanuka Dr. Suzan Kizito, Steven Ndugwa Kabwama and Dr. Rawlance Ndejjo, among others.

Speaking at the Vice Chancellor’s office, Prof. Rhoda Wanyenze said the School of Public Health was grateful for the partnerships with the BMGF that have impacted a lot of lives and influenced policy changes in Uganda and beyond. She thanked Bill and Melinda for their generosity and support towards research in Africa and capacity building.

L-R: Acting VC Prof. Tonny J. Oyana, BMGF's Dr. William Sambisa and MakSPH Dean Prof. Rhoda Wanyenze.
L-R: Acting VC Prof. Tonny J. Oyana, BMGF’s Dr. William Sambisa and MakSPH Dean Prof. Rhoda Wanyenze.

“We have several grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. We are proud that we are partnering with you for impactful research and meaningful capacity building. BMGF supports the Digital Health Payments initiative project, the Covid-19 assessment which is coming to an end, Performance Monitoring for Action (PMA), a project fueling a data revolution to guide family planning programs, and the Leadership for Malaria eradication that is equipping endemic country scientists, implementers and leaders of National Malaria Control Programs (NMCPs) with adequate skills with a view of obtaining the ultimate goal of global malaria eradication,” said Prof Wanyenze.

She added that; “We are talking with William to explore the establishment of a Centre for Health Security at Makerere University because we are in the Congo basis belt which has the largest number of disease outbreaks globally.”

Dr. Sambisa (Centre) meeting with the Secretariat of the Covid assessment project.
Dr. Sambisa (Centre) meeting with the Secretariat of the Covid assessment project.

On his part, the Acting Deputy Vice Chancellor Finance and Administration who represented Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Tonny Oyana said it was a great gesture for Makerere University to receive the BMGF support to various university research and capacity building projects citing that such partnerships need to be leveraged on in the next century.

“I am well informed that you have been generous to Makerere University through the School of Public Health. I am told the funding portfolio has increased under several projects. We are now celebrating 100 years of existence. Our main celebrations will be in October this year. So, we have come a long way and the BMGF are part of the Makerere University story and I hope that we can consolidate our gains with that funding support. When you go back, please tell Bill and Melinda that the Management of Makerere University is very grateful for your contribution and we should continue working together. Please do visit us again,” said Prof. Oyana.

Dr. Sambisa carefully looks at a photo of the remains of the iconic Makerere University Main Building.
Dr. Sambisa carefully looks at a photo of the remains of the iconic Makerere University Main Building.

Prof. Oyana also shared about the iconic university building Administration Block, the second oldest building in Makerere University, currently under reconstruction that was burnt to ruins on November 20, 2020. The Main Building, in the style of British architecture of the 1940s, had high white walls and blue-shuttered windows before the fire that broke out. It is a symbol of higher education in Uganda and Africa. Efforts are underway to maintain its exact architectural design and structure.

Artistic impression of the Makerere University Main Building and how it will appear once reconstructed.
Artistic impression of the Makerere University Main Building and how it will appear once reconstructed.

In appreciation, Dr. William Sambisa said he was excited to visit Makerere University and impressed by its position in research in Africa and beyond. He empathized with Makerere University for the loss of the iconic building during the fire.

“It is a pleasure working with Makerere University. This is my first time I set foot in this great institution. When we were growing up in Zimbabwe, we heard about Makerere, its academic stature and its role in activism those days. Sometimes you say I have read and heard about this Giant of Africa, I would like to be there,” said Dr. Sambisa.

He added that; “We have begun a journey. We are creating good foundational pillars, for the next growth of the institution itself and the way you will influence Africa in research and capacity building. If we are saying we want to rely on African institutions, are we putting adequate resources to build them? Are we holding them in that journey aspect of it? It would be unfair to drop this investment.”

The Dean Prof. Rhoda Wanyenze led Dr. Sambisa on a guided tour to the Main Campus and inspected the construction site for the new home of MakSPH. 

Dean MakSPH, Prof. Wanyenze (2nd R) explains to Dr. Sambisa (2nd L) how the new structure will look like and its importance. in the public health training and research agenda for Uganda. 
Dean MakSPH, Prof. Wanyenze (2nd R) explains to Dr. Sambisa (2nd L) how the new structure will look like and its importance. in the public health training and research agenda for Uganda. 
Dean MakSPH, Prof. Wanyenze (2nd L) shows Dr. Sambisa (L) another angle of the MakSPH building under construction at the Main Campus, Makerere University.
Dean MakSPH, Prof. Wanyenze (2nd L) shows Dr. Sambisa (L) another angle of the MakSPH building under construction at the Main Campus, Makerere University.

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Mak’s GMI Labs Authorized to Conduct DNA Paternity Testing



Some of the equipment used to store samples at the Makerere University Biomedical Research Centre (MakBRC), College of Health Sciences (CHS). Kampala Uganda, East Africa.

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.

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MNCH e-Post Issue 121: Learning from Nsambya Hospital Human Milk Bank to inform national scale-up & save preterm babies



A Screenshot of Prof. Peter Waiswa during his interview with NTV. MNCH e-Post Issue No. 121, MakSPH, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.

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

Click here to View the full MNCH e-Post Issue 121

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METS Newsletter October 2023



Front Row (Left to Right): The hosts - Dr. Alice Namale and Ms. Evelyn Akello with Commissioner Allan Muruta and representatives from US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Makerere University School of Public Health (MakSPH) enjoy a photo moment on 5th October 2023. Photo: METS. Plot 20A Kawalya Kaggwa Close, Kololo Kampala Uganda, East Africa.

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.
  • Gallery
    • 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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