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Experts Gather to Analyze and Strengthen Efforts in Maternal and Reproductive Health

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By Samantha Agasha and Davidson Ndyabahika

Uganda has made notable progress in increasing coverage of Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child, and Adolescent Health (RMNCAH) services over the past two decades, but overall progress remains uneven due to inadequate investment and funding for health, fragmented and disorganized healthcare systems, gaps in evidence-based policy, and weaknesses in policy implementation.

In an effort to catalyze policy improvement in Africa, the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) of Canada and the Malaysia-based United Nations University International Institute of Global Health (UNU-IIGH) have agreed to co-fund a program of work aimed at promoting Maternal, Newborn, Sexual and Reproductive Health (MNSRH) policy improvement and development in five African countries, including Uganda.

On Wednesday 18th January 2023, a partner engagement meeting was held in Kampala to conduct a situational analysis of the Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child, and Adolescent Health (RMNCAH) services in Uganda and discuss challenges in policy formulation, implementation, and evaluation.

In his opening remarks, Prof. Charles Ibingira highlighted the challenges in policy formulation, implementation, and evaluation in RMNCAH services.

“Our targeted outputs are; updated/improved versions of existing policies, or new policies, an improved MNSRH research-policy-practice system (including better coordination and communication between commissioners, producers, and users of research), case studies of catalyzing policy improvement in Africa – CPIA model, and two structured courses for a cohort of young professionals in policy analysis and implementation research,” Prof. Ibingira highlighted.

Prof. Charles Ibingira, the team lead on the project takes notes during the RMNCAH partner's engagement.
Prof. Charles Ibingira, the team lead on the project takes notes during the RMNCAH partner’s engagement.

The session was moderated by Professor Elizeus Rutebemberwa, the Deputy Dean, School of Public Health assisted by Dr. Josaphat Byamugisha, of Obstetrics & Gynecology and the Director, Makerere University Health Services with assistance from Professor Lynn Atuyambe.

Professor Elizeus Rutebemberwa, the Deputy Dean, School of Public Health moderates the session.
Professor Elizeus Rutebemberwa, the Deputy Dean, School of Public Health moderates the session.

According to Dr. Sarah Byakika, the Commissioner Health Services Planning, Financing, and Policy at the Ministry of Health, there is a need to evaluate program indicators on a regular basis.

“The challenge is that when it comes to monitoring and evaluation, and following up on why we are not achieving targets, there is a big gap. We produce annual sector performance reports but don’t give time to reviewing this performance. People always just go back home and wait for the next report,” remarked Byakika.

Further adding; “We are good at designing policies but are struggling when it comes to learning from them.”

Dr. Sarah Byakika, the Commissioner Health Services Planning, Financing, and Policy at the Ministry of Health.
Dr. Sarah Byakika, the Commissioner Health Services Planning, Financing, and Policy at the Ministry of Health.

Dr. Moses Walakira, the family planning program specialist at the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) decried the absence of a joint multi-sectoral action plan when it comes to addressing RMNCAH issues.

“How do we work collaboratively to address structural barriers? Who are the gatekeepers? And how do we target them together? Harmonization of perspectives and commitments at different levels is so important, otherwise, we shall remain fragmented in our policy implementation,” said Dr. Walakira.

Dr. Moses Walakira, the family planning programme specialist at the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
Dr. Moses Walakira, the family planning programme specialist at the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

Ms. Friday Madinah, a Senior Youth Officer from the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, advises that when dealing with issues related to young people, women, children, and people with disabilities, the Ministry of Health should involve the Ministry of Gender, Labour, and Social Development, as they also have the necessary linkages and structures to assist in implementing these policies.

Ms. Friday Madinah, a Senior Youth Officer from the Ministry of Gender, Labour, and Social Development speaking at the event.
Ms. Friday Madinah, a Senior Youth Officer from the Ministry of Gender, Labour, and Social Development speaking at the event.

 “When issues of young people, women, children and even those of people with disabilities are being handled, it is mostly the Ministry of Health taking charge yet we at the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development also have the linkages and structures to help in implementing these policies. Please bring us on board, and make use of our competencies in these areas,” says Madinah.

Dr. Olive Sentumbwe, Family Health, and Population Adviser, at the World Health Organization (WHO), also underscores the need for a platform for the RMNCAH team to utilize in discussions with the other key players in regard to the kind of support they can provide.

Dr. Olive Sentumbwe, Family Health and Population Adviser, at the World Health Organization (WHO) speaks at the partners engagement.
Dr. Olive Sentumbwe, Family Health and Population Adviser, at the World Health Organization (WHO) speaks at the partners engagement.

“The platform is crucial when it comes to accountability; following up/asking other sectors, and Ministries whether our policies and action points are being implemented. We also need different platforms at the different levels of government so there is an understanding of policies and their implementation processes by the different beneficiaries,” she said.

According to Dr. Jessica Nsungwa, the Commissioner for Maternal and Child Health at the Ministry of Health of Uganda, accountability ought to be mutual in order for policies to be successful.

“Government should be accountable to its people, but the people also need to be accountable to the government. For example, we bought a bunch of COVID-19 vaccines using government money but people refused to come for them and some of those doses ended up expiring,” Dr. Nsungwa attests.

Dr. Jessica Nsungwa, the Commissioner for Maternal and Child Health at the Ministry of Health of Uganda.
Dr. Jessica Nsungwa, the Commissioner for Maternal and Child Health at the Ministry of Health of Uganda.

The Minister of Health Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng reported in June 2022 that 2.6 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine expired due to a lack of interest and misinformation. This highlights the need to improve cooperation and coordination between the public, private sectors, and community to improve access to maternal, newborn, sexual, and reproductive health.

Participants holding a discussion at the RMNCAH partners' engagement meeting.
Participants holding a discussion at the RMNCAH partners’ engagement meeting.

Hon. Dr. Bhoka Didi George, a public health specialist, area MP for Obongi County in Obongi District, and a member of the Committee on Health in Parliament reminded the team that the current public health law in Uganda is obsolete, dating back to the 1930s.

“From a legal and regulatory framework point of view, there is a lot of room for improvement. What we have is a national policy, not a law. Therefore, we cannot hold the government accountable in case they fail to deliver on Maternal, Newborn, Sexual, and Reproductive Health for example. We need an enabling legal and regulatory framework,” Hon. Dr. Bhoka.

Hon. Dr. Bhoka Didi George, a public health specialist, area MP for Obongi County in Obongi District, and a member of the Committee on Health in Parliament.
Hon. Dr. Bhoka Didi George, a public health specialist, area MP for Obongi County in Obongi District, and a member of the Committee on Health in Parliament.

Dr. Richard Mugahi Adyeeri, the Assistant Commissioner Ministry of Health in charge of Reproductive Health advises the localization of policies to suit Uganda’s population needs at the implementation of RMNCAH services.

“One district with five million people, but only one DHO [District Health Officer] can’t have the same issues as a district with only 60,000 people for example. Let us have policies that are not only culturally, but also socially sound,” Dr. Mugahi said.

Dr. Richard Mugahi Adyeeri, the Assistant Commissioner Ministry of Health in charge of Reproductive Health.
Dr. Richard Mugahi Adyeeri, the Assistant Commissioner Ministry of Health in charge of Reproductive Health.

Prof. Ibingira stresses that the engagement was quite central to the responsibility of individual stakeholders, which is proper service delivery for the health improvement of Ugandans.  

“You have given us a lot of information on the issues we are tasked with, regarding policy formulation and implementation. We are now going to do the analysis by looking at the different existing policies so we can come up with strategies instrumental to accelerating policy improvement. We hope a lot is going to change, and that other countries will learn from us. Thank you very much,” Prof. Ibingira.

The CPIA partnership operates in five countries and is coordinated by the UNU-IIGH, which leads to the conceptualization and evaluation of the program’s model. Makerere University leads the implementation of the CPIA model and operational plan in Uganda, and the project aims to benefit staff and students through visiting fellowships, internships, and Ph.D. research opportunities.

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University of Turin Infectious Disease Clinical Rotation or Laboratory Placement

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One of the staff uses the Abbott m2000 RealTime System in the Core Laboratory (CL), IDI, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.

Project Description

The Research Capacity Building Unit at the Infectious Diseases Institute Makerere University is seeking two (2) applicants for Infectious Disease Clinical Rotation or Laboratory Placement at Turin University.

Eligibility for Masters scholarship

Interested candidates must possess or be enrolled in a:

  1. Medical related Masters or PhD training level
  2. Ability to commit 3 to 6 months clinical rotation or laboratory placement at Turin University

The placement includes:

  • Travel Expense
  • Monthly stipend of 850 euros to cover accommodation and welfare.
  • Networking opportunities with Scientists in Infectious Diseases or Clinical Pharmacology/Pharmacogenetics at Turin University

Successful candidates:

  • Under this program, we hope to expose academically excellent students to the sub-specialty with the context of infectious diseases clinical and laboratory research.

Application

Highly motivated individuals planning a career in infectious disease are invited to apply for this Placement at Turin University if they;

  • Have a demonstrable interest in infectious diseases research, writing, and publication
  • Wish to develop particular expertise in infectious disease through the following areas: epidemiology of infectious diseases, clinical trials methodology, prevention of infection, hospital infection control, pathogenesis research, laboratory expertise in a selected area (Clinical Pharmacology/Pharmacogenetics), vaccine studies, and other topics in Infectious Diseases.
  • Ability to define a clear area of interest within infectious disease
  • Possess a basic understanding of infectious disease epidemiology and statistics
  • Are motivated, independent, and have strong teamwork and communication skills
  • Strong English language proficiency, both spoken and written (as demonstrated in writing sample)

How to apply

  • Interested persons should address their applications to ananvuma@idi.co.ug . Only electronic versions will be considered.
  • Please note that the subject line of the email must be stated as “Open Call: University of Turin Infectious Disease Clinical Rotation or Lab Placement”
  • Applicants should submit a 1-page (maximum) motivation letter to capture Infectious diseases clinical rrotation or laboratory placement expectations. Applicants should clearly state why they should be considered for this program.
  • The deadline for receipt of applications is 15th May 2024.

Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted

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Call For Applications: Masters Support in Self-management Intervention for Reducing Epilepsy Burden

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An aerial photo of the College of Health Sciences (CHS), Makerere University showing Left to Right: The Sir Albert Cook Memorial Library, School of Biomedical Sciences, Davies Lecture Theatre, School of Public Health, Mulago Specialised Women and Neonatal Hospital (MSWNH)-Background Left and Nakasero Hill-Background Right, Kampala Uganda.

The Makerere University College of Health Sciences & Case Western Reserve University, partnering with Mbarara University of science and Technology are implementing a five-year project, “Self-management Intervention for Reducing Epilepsy Burden Among Adult Ugandans with Epilepsy”.

The program is funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH), National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). One aspect of the program is to provide advanced degree training to qualified candidates with an interest in pursuing clinical and research careers in Epilepsy. We are aiming at growing epilepsy research capacity including self-management approaches in SSA.

The Project is soliciting for applications for Masters Research thesis support focusing on epilepsy related research at Makerere University and Mbarara University, cohort 1, 2024/2025.

Selection criteria

  • Should be a Masters’ student of the following courses; MMED in Internal Medicine, Paediatrics, Surgery and Neurosurgery, Psychiatry, Family Medicine, Public Health, Master of Health Services Research, MSc. Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Nursing or Masters in the Basic Sciences (Physiology, Anatomy, Biochemistry or any other related field).
  • Should have completed at least one year of their Masters training in the courses listed above.
  • Demonstrated interest in Epilepsy and Neurological diseases, care and prevention and commitment to develop and maintain a productive career and devoted to Epilepsy, Clinical Practice and Prevention.

Research Programs

The following are the broad Epilepsy research priority areas (THEMES) and applicants are encouraged to develop research concepts in the areas of; Applicants are not limited to these themes; they can propose other areas.

  • The epidemiology of Epilepsy and associated risk factors.
  • Determining the factors affecting the quality of life, risk factors and outcomes (mortality, morbidity) for Epilepsy, epilepsy genetics, and preventive measures among adults.
  • Epilepsy in childhood and its associated factors, preventative measures etc.
  • Epilepsy epidemiology and other Epilepsy related topics.
  • Epilepsy interventions and rehabilitation

In addition to a formal masters’ program, trainees will receive training in bio-ethics, Good Clinical Practice, behavioral sciences research, data and statistical analysis and research management.

The review criteria for applicants will be as follows:

  • Relevance to program objectives
  • Quality of research and research project approach
  • Feasibility of study
  • Mentors and mentoring plan; in your mentoring plan, please include who are the mentors, what training they will provide and how often they propose to meet with the candidate.
  • Ethics and human subjects’ protection.

Application Process

Applicants should submit an application letter accompanied with detailed curriculum vitae, two recommendation letters from Professional referees or mentors and a 2-page concept or an approved full proposal describing your project and addressing Self-Management Intervention for Reducing Epilepsy Burden Among Adult or epilepsy related problem.

A soft copy should be submitted to the Administrator, Reducing Epilepsy Burden Project.  Email: smireb2@gmail.com; Closing date for the Receipt of applications is 1st July 2024.

For more information, inquiries and additional advice on developing concepts, please contact the following:

Makerere University College of Health Sciences

Prof. Mark Kaddumukasa:  kaddumark@yahoo.co.uk

Mbarara University

Ms. Josephine N Najjuma: najjumajosephine@yahoo.co.uk

Only short-listed candidates will be contacted for Interviews.

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Call For Applications: Masters Support in Brain Health

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Artistic illustration of Medical Science at the College of Health Sciences (CHS), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda.

The Makerere University College of Health Sciences and Uganda Martyrs University (UMU), Research Training and mentorship to strengthen brain health program is a five-year project, funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH), National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) and the Fogarty International Center (FIC). The Major goal is to strengthen brain health research through multidisciplinary training and build a sustainable faculty and institutional capacity for research to improve brain health across the Lifespan in Uganda.

The Project is soliciting for applications for Master’s training support in Brain Health-related research at Makerere University/UMU, 5th Cohort, 2024/2025.

Selection criteria

  • Should be a Masters’ student of the following courses; MMED in Internal Medicine, Obstetrics/Gynaecology, Paediatrics, Surgery and Neurosurgery, Psychiatry, Family Medicine, Public Health, Master of Health Services Research, MSc. Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Nursing or Masters in the Basic Sciences (Physiology, Anatomy, Biochemistry or any other related field at Makerere University/UMU.
  • Should have completed at least one year of their Masters training in the courses listed above and ready to start their thesis development.
  • Proof of admission onto a master’s program at Makerere or UMU
  • Research work should be related to their selected research area in brain health
  • A letter of support from a mentor and another letter from the department committing to give the candidate protected time to study.
  • Demonstrated interest in Brain Health and Neurological diseases, care and prevention and commitment to develop and maintain a productive career and devoted to Brain Health, Clinical Practice and Prevention.

Research Programs

The following are the broad Brain Health Research priority areas (THEMES) and applicants are encouraged to develop research concepts in the areas of; Meningitis, encephalitis, traumatic brain injury, seizures/ epilepsy, neurodevelopmental disorders, ADHD, Autism, cerebral palsy, mental health disorders, stroke, dementias, Parkinson’s disease and nerve disorders plus “other brain-related topics”

In addition to a formal masters’ program, trainees will receive training in bio-ethics, Implementation science, behavioral sciences research, qualitative and quantitative research methodology, data analysis and research management.

The review criteria for applicants will be as follows:

  • Relevance to program objectives
  • Quality of research and research project approach
  • Feasibility of study
  • Mentors and mentoring plan; in your Mentoring plan, please include who are the proposed mentors, what training they will provide and how often they propose to meet with the candidate.
  • Ethics and human subjects’ protection.

Application Process

Applicants should submit an application letter accompanied with a detailed curriculum vitae, two recommendation letters from Professional referees or mentors and a 2-page concept or approved full proposal addressing a brain health or neurological disease related problem.

A soft copy should be submitted to the Training Coordinator, Brain Health Project.

Email: brainhealthtraining@gmail.com.

Closing date for the Receipt of applications is 10th June 2024.

For more information, inquiries and additional advice on developing concepts, please contact the following:

Prof. Elly Katabira, katabira@infocom.co.ug;

Dr. Mark Kaddumukasa. kaddumark@yahoo.co.uk

Only short-listed candidates will be contacted for Interviews

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