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Veterinary & Biosecurity

Uganda Commemorates One Health Day with a call for a Multi-Sectoral Approach to address emerging health threats

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By Joseph Odoi

On 3rd November 2022, Uganda joined the rest of the world in celebrating One Health Day. This year marks the seventh  annual One Health Day, a global campaign that celebrates and brings attention to the need for a One Health approach to address shared health threats at the human-animal-environment interface.

One Health Day is an initiative that gives One Health advocates and practitioners around the world a powerful voice for moving beyond provincial approaches to emerging zoonotic infectious diseases, antimicrobial resistance, climate change, environmental pollution, food safety, comparative/ translational medicine and many other problems, to a holistic, One Health, way of thinking and acting for the benefit of all living creatures.

While giving a keynote speech at Presidential Hall in Kampala under the theme “Our Planet, Our Health” at the Office of the President in Kampala, Dr. Lawrence Mugisha, an Associate Professor at Makerere University College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Bio-Security (CoVAB) in a special way welcomed participants to the One-Health day celebrations. He noted that there’s urgent need for all sectors to work together if emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases and other public health threats are to be addressed.

“The challenges we face today whether health-related like emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases or public disasters like flooding, drought among others are complex, cross-cutting and cross different borders requiring one health approach which is multidisciplinary that facilitates collaboration, coordination and communication among different professionals/disciplines to address the public health events quickly. This helps to quickly identify appropriate interventions timely and use available resources effectively,”

Prof. Lawrence Mugisha giving a Keynote Address at the event.
Prof. Lawrence Mugisha giving a Keynote Address at the event.

Citing WHO data, Professor Mugisha noted AMR one of the emerging public health challenges which if left unchecked will contribute to 10 million deaths per year

To address these challenges, Prof.Mugisha recommended the following

  • Raising public awareness about AMR and AMU
  • Promoting water, hygiene and sanitation
  • Enhanced AMR/AMU Surveillance in humans, animals and environment
  • Investing in human capital for innovative research in vaccines and alternative therapeutic approaches like herbal use for the replacement of Antibiotic use.

In her presentation titled; Progress of Implementation of the anti-microbial resistance national action plan, Dr. Hellen Byomire Ndagije from National Drug Authority  emphasized the importance of raising awareness to combat anti-microbial resistance adding that national drug authority has been holding Meetings to raise awareness of antimicrobial stewardship (AMS) and antimicrobial resistance (AMR) among health workers in pharmacies, and drug shops both human and animal medicine use

Dr. Hellen Ndagije from NDA making a presentation.
Dr. Hellen Ndagije from NDA making a presentation.

As part of capacity building to address AMR, she supported strengthening the Medicine Therapeutic Committees (MTCs) in regional referral hospitals with logistical support and technical training on rational medicine use and pharmacovigilance. In terms of antibiotics demand, she noted Uganda currently imports over 50,000 kilograms which should call for close vigilance.

To promote optimal access and use of antimicrobials, she recommended regular and risk-based testing of imported antimicrobials and medical equipment to assure their quality. She emphasized the need for good distribution practice standards to guarantee that antimicrobials are restored and dispensed in a way that does not compromise quality or efficacy.  She said there was need to promote good manufacturing practices (GMP) inspections for both foreign and local drug manufacturers to ensure compliance to quality standards of manufacture, in addition to  enforcing compliance monitoring and support supervision of human and veterinary drug outlets to ensure compliance to drug regulatory requirements.

As a way forward, she made recommendations that included the strengthening of stakeholder engagement, awareness, training and collaboration.  The need for improved access to quality, safe and efficacious antimicrobials was emphasized in addition to strengthening pharmacovigilance: reporting ADE (AMR surveillance)

Dr. Ndadije stressed the need to promote rational use of drugs as well as investing in research and innovations

In her presentation, Dr. Lydia Nakiire under the Project titled 7-1-7 timeliness at Infectious Diseases Institute, Global Health Security Program said   the Ministry of Health conducted a pilot study, ‘To Save Lives’ through Infectious Diseases Institute to identify bottlenecks causing delays in detection, notification and response.

During the study, she said, it was observed that application of One Health during responses to public health emergencies was one of the major enablers for timely initiation of early response.  ‘’Recent outbreaks like Ebola Sudan virus disease and COVID 19 make it necessary to review the lessons learnt from recent public health events, reevaluate approaches and develop frameworks to measure progress towards making the world safe from public health threats.

The 7-1-7 framework proposes timeliness matrix with defined targets; 7 days to suspected outbreak detection, 1 day for public health authorities to be notified and the investigation is initiated within 7days. The 7-1-7 metric can supplement existing capacity measurements of the International Health Regulations (2005), including the Joint External Evaluation and Global Health Security Index’ explained Dr. Nakiire.

Dr. Lydia Nakiire making a presentation highlighting innovations under the Project titled 7-1-7 Timeliness.

In his presentation on behalf of Dr. Immaculate Nabukenya, Senior Project Manager, NAPHS A-Team Uganda Herbert Bakiika shared the progress of Implementation of the Uganda National Action Plan for Health Security (NAPHS) and 2022 Operational Plan. 

Herbert Bakiika making a presentation on the Uganda National Action Plan for Health Security (NAPHS) and 2022 Operational Plan.
Herbert Bakiika making a presentation on the Uganda National Action Plan for Health Security (NAPHS) and 2022 Operational Plan.

He noted there is progress in the following as mechanism of addressing AMR, and that the guidelines for mandatory license were drafted, but not approved.  He further said that decentralizing One Health in 50 districts by 2024 to strengthen coordination of surveillance and response to zoonotic diseases was underway. Uganda committed to achieving demonstrated capacity in at least 3 technical areas by 2024.

He said the other milestone was licensing of all laboratories across animal, human, food, nuclear and chemical sectors by 2024 to strengthen the national laboratory network. On how this will be achieved, she said government was to liaise with professional councils to license laboratories in line with basic Quality Management Services (QMS)​​

Dr. Jonathan Mayito from Uganda Fleming Fund highlighted Inadequate human resources in the microbiology laboratories, Irrational and overuse of antibiotics, Lack of AMR data sharing across one health sectors, Lack of structures response to the emerging AMR epidemic as some of the challenges that needed to be addressed.

Dr. Mayito cited lack of AMR data sharing across one health sectors.
Dr. Mayito cited lack of AMR data sharing across one health sectors.

Moving forward, he recommended streamlining the supply of microbiology supplies by National Medical Stores, Increase human resources allocation through public service commission, data sharing agreement to enable data sharing to inform strategies and above all creating a National Task Force to investigate and respond to AMR   alerts/outbreaks.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)’s Country Director, Bessong Willington emphasized the importance of capacity building to support timely intervention when addressing disease outbreaks. He called upon different sectors to work collaboratively and in a multidisciplinary fashion under the One Health Approach.

In his remarks read by Dr. John Opolot, Dr. Henry Mwebesa congratulated participants for marking the one-health day. He that 61% of all existing human infections in the past decade have been zoonotic including Ebola, HIV, and influenza and that 80 % of pathogens could potentially be used for bio terrorism.

In addition, to effectively strengthen One Health initiatives in Uganda, the Ministry of Health has embarked on roll out of the third edition of the integrated disease surveillance and response in over seven health regions using One Health approaches.  The ministry, he said, also piloted integrated (both animal and human) sample transportation from communities using the hub transportation network using One Health Approaches.

On the importance of a multi-sectoral approach towards addressing public health challenges, Dr. Mwebesa emphasized the importance of involving all state and non-state actors including civil society and the private sector in one-health programmes.

Dr. John Opolot.
Dr. John Opolot.

In terms of government commitment, Dr. Mwebesa noted that The Ministry of Health will continue to support the One Health initiative, and currently government is funding division of veterinary public health and zoonoses  which is supporting decentralization of One Health in over 30 districts to strengthen multi-sectoral emergency preparedness at sub-national level.

On current outbreak of Ebola, Dr. Mwebesa said   The ministry of health shall continue to engage the National One Health platform in the current epidemic and urged all stakeholders to observe standard operating procedures to prevent the spread of Ebola virus disease. He equally thanked     development, Implementing Partners and private sector partners for the financial and technical support towards the One Health initiatives as long forward to prevention, detection and response to emerging public health emergencies in the country.

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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