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NCDs Symposium 2023: Stakeholders Pledge to Work together to Address growing burden in Uganda & Beyond

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Stakeholders pledged to work together to address the growing burden of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) in Uganda and beyond. The pledge was made at the NCDs Symposium held on Saturday 4th March 2023 and hosted by Makerere University College of Health Sciences (MakCHS), as a member of the Alliance of Research Universities in Africa (ARUA) NCD Centre of Excellence. The theme of the symposium was ‘Advances in NCD Training, Research and Community Impact’.

Research shows that, globally, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are responsible for a significant proportion of deaths, with 41 million people dying from these chronic diseases each year. NCDs, also known as chronic diseases, tend to be of long duration and are the result of a combination of genetic, physiological, environmental and behavioural factors. The main types of NCD are cardiovascular diseases (such as heart attacks and stroke), cancers, chronic respiratory diseases (such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma) and diabetes.

NCDs disproportionately affect people in low- and middle-income countries, where more than three-quarters of global NCD deaths (31.4 million) occur. In Uganda, the number of people living with NCDs has been increasing dramatically, making NCDs a major public health threat. For instance, 74,354 new cases of diabetes were seen at health facilities in Uganda in 2009-10 compared to 58,523 five years earlier showing an increase of 27% (HMIS data 2009/10). In 2013, the Uganda Diabetes Association revealed that over 200,000 children had diabetes and expressed fears the number could be higher because many of the children do not report to the hospital for diagnosis.

Professor Damalie Nakanjako, Principal - MakCHS giving welcome remarks.
Professor Damalie Nakanjako, Principal – MakCHS giving welcome remarks.

In her remarks as host, Professor Damalie Nakanjako, The Principal College of Health Sciences, Makerere University, in a special way welcomed participants to the Symposium and noted that the purpose of the event was to showcase the latest advances in NCD training, research, and community impact, and to provide a platform for stakeholders to engage and collaborate on issues related to NCDs.

Citing WHO data, Professor Nakanjako noted that NCDs represent the largest cause of mortality in adults with 86% of these premature deaths occurring in middle-income countries such as Uganda. She further pointed out that the incidence of NCDs among children, particularly diabetes, is increasing, indicating the urgent need for attention.

Professor Nakanjako stressed the importance of data-driven interventions, knowledge translation, and a multi-sectoral approach in addressing NCDs, and called for more investment in NCD research, collaborations, and regular exercise among children. She also reiterated Makerere University’s commitment to addressing NCDs through continuous advances in NCD training, research, and community engagement.

WHO Key Facts On Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs)

  • Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) kill 41 million people each year, equivalent to 74% of all deaths globally.
  • Each year, 17 million people die from a NCD before age 70; 86% of these premature deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.
  • Of all NCD deaths, 77% are in low- and middle-income countries.
  • Cardiovascular diseases account for most NCD deaths, or 17.9 million people annually, followed by cancers (9.3 million), chronic respiratory diseases (4.1 million), and diabetes (2.0 million including kidney disease deaths caused by diabetes).
  • These four groups of diseases account for over 80% of all premature NCD deaths.
  • Tobacco use, physical inactivity, the harmful use of alcohol and unhealthy diets all increase the risk of dying from an NCD.
  • Detection, screening and treatment of NCDs, as well as palliative care, are key components of the response to NCDs.

During his speech, Dr. Fred Bukachi, the Director of ARUA Centre of Excellence for NCDs, highlighted the urgent need to address the rising prevalence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the region and beyond through research, capacity building, and dissemination of findings. The Centre’s main objective is to develop scientific evidence for NCD policies, prevention, management, and control, while engaging with communities. To achieve this, Dr. Bukachi presented several strategies, including the creation of multi-disciplinary research programs, a training research and mobility program, an NCD research and data repository for Africa, and an annual international NCD symposium.

In addition, Dr. Bukachi emphasized the Centre’s commitment to improving the health and well-being of people in sub-Saharan Africa and beyond by addressing the NCD epidemic through research and capacity building. The audience responded positively to his presentation, with many impressed by the Centre’s ambitious goals and plans for tackling NCDs in Africa.

Dr. Fred Bukachi at the symposium.
Dr. Fred Bukachi at the symposium.

In his remarks, read by Dr. Frank Mugabe, Dr. Oyoo Charles Akiya, the Commissioner of Health Services-NCD Ministry of Health, stated that non-communicable diseases and injuries (NCDIs) are on the rise in Uganda. He revealed that the burden of NCDs has more than doubled in the last 20 years, with 22% of adults at risk of premature death (30-70 years) as of 2016. NCDs account for 41% of all deaths in the country.

Dr. Akiya cited the NCD risk factor survey and other studies, highlighting heavy alcohol consumption in men and women, consumption of unhealthy diets, tobacco use, physical inactivity, and obesity as some of the problems that need urgent attention. Data on high burden NCD conditions reveal that 24% of adults in Uganda suffer from hypertension requiring treatment, with only 24.3% accessing treatment. The prevalence of diabetes is estimated at 1.4%, and there is a high prevalence of sickle cell disease in the central, eastern, and northern parts of the country, with 1.3% of the population having the trait.

Mental health disorders, especially depression, are also prevalent, with over one million Ugandans experiencing depression.

On government efforts towards NCDS, Akiya revealed that Uganda is conducting the 2nd risk factor survey thanks to the World Health Organization and the School of Public Health.

Moving forward, Dr. Akiya proposed priority areas for research and training ; including the need to quantify the level of misinformation around diabetes treatment, implement preventive programs for known carrier communities of sickle cell disease, determine the cause and risk factors for increased cases of gastrointestinal cancer in Southwestern Uganda, understand the biomass gap and its correlation to chronic respiratory diseases, determine the gap in mental health service provision among general health workers, reduce the cost of kidney chronic disease transplant services, increase awareness of cardiovascular disease screening, and determine and document the cost of road traffic-associated injuries to the health sector and the country to halt these conditions.

Dr. Frank Mugabe read out the remarks by Dr. Oyoo Charles Akiya, the Commissioner of Health Services-NCD Ministry of Health.
Dr. Frank Mugabe read out the remarks by Dr. Oyoo Charles Akiya, the Commissioner of Health Services-NCD Ministry of Health.

In his remarks as Chief Guest, Professor Umar Kakumba, on behalf of Makerere University’s Vice Chancellor Professor Barnabas Nawangwe, commended academia for their role in addressing emerging health threats, adding that Makerere University, as a research-led institution, is committed to supporting NCD activities through training, research, and community engagement. He emphasized that beyond training and research, there is a need to go to communities and share knowledge, as there is a gap in knowledge uptake around NCDs.

Professor Kakumba also highlighted the role of the private sector in supporting these causes, as a healthy population is key to their business success. He thanked Arua partners for taking the lead in addressing NCDs, which are responsible for 71% of global deaths and 85% of premature deaths in low and middle-income countries, including Uganda.

Moving forward, Professor Kakumba proposed a collaborative effort among stakeholders to address NCDs comprehensively. He emphasized the need for a holistic approach that involves the government, private sector, civil society organizations, and academia to address the growing burden of NCDs in Uganda.

He reiterated the commitment of Makerere University in supporting NCD activities through research, training, and community engagement, and he called on other institutions to join in this effort to achieve a healthier population and a more prosperous country.

Professor Umar Kakumba giving his remarks as Chief Guest at the symposium.
Professor Umar Kakumba giving his remarks as Chief Guest at the symposium.

In her remarks, Dr. Kasule  Hasifa discussed the priority areas for research and training in non-communicable diseases (NCDs) identified by the World Health Organization (WHO), including the need to prevent and control NCDs through public health interventions and policies, address the social determinants of NCDs such as poverty and education, improve healthcare accessibility and quality particularly in low- and middle-income countries, strengthen health systems to better respond to the growing burden of NCDs, and promote research on the causes, prevention, and treatment of NCDs.

Dr. Hasifa Kasule from WHO highlighting global priority areas for research and training around NCDs.
Dr. Hasifa Kasule from WHO highlighting global priority areas for research and training around NCDs.

The event featured presentations from several NCD groups at MakCHS, including Cardiovascular Diseases, Renal Diseases, Diabetes Mellitus & Other Endocrine Disorders, Cancers, Mental Health Disorders, Respiratory Diseases and Lung Health, Sickle Cell Disease, and Other Haematological Conditions, as well as Interactions between NCDS and Infectious Diseases.

The symposium was attended by researchers, students, academicians, policymakers, practitioners, and health advocates with a special interest in NCDs. The day was crowned off with cake-cutting and all participants pledging to work together in addressing NCDs.

Professor Damalie Nakanjako (2nd right), Dr. Besigye Innocent (3rd right) and Dr. Fred Bukachi (1st right) cutting cake with other key stakeholders at the symposium.
Professor Damalie Nakanjako (2nd right), Dr. Besigye Innocent (3rd right) and Dr. Fred Bukachi (1st right) cutting cake with other key stakeholders at the symposium.

At the symposium, stakeholders agreed that it is crucial to work collaboratively to comprehensively address the growing burden of NCDs in Uganda. They recognized the need to implement preventive programs, increase awareness of cardiovascular disease screening, improve healthcare accessibility and quality, particularly in low- and middle-income countries, and promote research on the causes, prevention, and treatment of NCDs. It was emphasized that a holistic approach involving the government, private sector, civil society organizations, and academia is necessary to achieve a healthier population and a more prosperous country.

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Call For Abstracts: 18th Joint Annual Scientific Health Conference (JASHC) 2024

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Call For Abstracts: 18th Joint Annual Scientific Health Conference (JASHC), the 30th UNACOH Conference, the 22nd Mathew Lukwiya Lecture scheduled to take place from 16th - 18th October 2024, at Hotel Africana, Kampala, Uganda, East Africa.

The Makerere University College of Health Sciences  (MakCHS) in conjunction with the Uganda National Association for Community and Occupational Health (UNACOH) announces the 18th Joint Annual Scientific Health Conference (JASHC)the 30th UNACOH Conference, the 22nd Mathew Lukwiya Lecture scheduled to take place from 16th  – 18th October 2024, at Hotel Africana, Kampala – Uganda.

Conference Theme: Global Health Security: Partnerships for Epidemic Response and Control in Sub-Saharan Africa 

Researchers, health workers, policymakers, students, and public/civil society members are invited to submit abstracts.

Deadline for submission of Abstracts: August 15th 2024

See the Downloads for more information

For more information contact Conference Secretariat:
Makerere University College of Health Sciences, 
1st Floor, Pathology Building, 
School of Biomedical Sciences, Dean’s Office, 
P.O. Box 7072 Kampala, Uganda. 
Email: jashc2024@gmail.com 
Website: https://chs.mak.ac.ug/jash2024 
Tel: +256784574544/+256759287297

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METS Newsletter May 2024

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The newly appointed CDC Uganda Country Director, Dr. Adetinuke Mary Boyd (7th from left) met with country implementing partner Executive Directors to get insights on ongoing projects, discussed leveraging of partnerships as well as strategizing for how best to strengthen health systems. Infectious Diseases Institute (IDI)-McKinnell Knowledge Centre, Makerere University, 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 May 2024 Newsletter

  • Enhancing Response to Sexual and Gender-Based Violence
    • Responding to and preventing Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) and Violence Against Children (VAC) are critical components of Uganda’s national HIV prevention program. METS developed a new app designed to improve support for SGBV survivors. This followed an assessment in December 2022, that revealed gaps in service access and coordination in Fort Portal and Kampala Regions.
    • The METS team, in collaboration with regional implementing partners, is scaling up the app’s use in pilot districts such as Masaka, Kiryandongo, Fort Portal, and Mubende. The team visited facilities and police stations to install the app and train selected focal persons on its use.
  • Assessing Readiness for Integrated HIV and NCD Care Services
    • METS supported the Ministry of Health to conduct a site readiness assessment for integrated delivery of HIV and Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) services from 22nd to 26th April 2024, in collaboration with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and various implementing partners. The activity was conducted in selected health facilities in Acholi, Mubende, Kayunga, and Rwenzori regions to determine their feasibility for participating in a comprehensive NCD evaluation.
    • The 48 facilities visited have already integrated NCD services (mental Health, diabetes, and hypertension). Of these, 78% have integrated mental health services in their PMTCT clinics. 40% of the facilities have a dedicated NCD services physicians /doctor in the ART Clinic, 29% have doc have dedicated physicians in the PMTCT clinics. 90%. Most of the facilities have clinical and nurses in the ART than PMTCT facilities but more nurses offering NCD services in PMTCT sites.
  • Digitalizing the health sector through strategic partnerships
    • In collaboration with CDC and METS, the MoH organized a national Electronic Medical Records (EMR) stakeholders meeting to orient stakeholders on the national EMR agenda and transition towards a comprehensive digital health facility package. Key actions discussed included expanding the rollout of the EMR and Community Health Information System (eCHIS) and urging development partners to support prioritized health information and digital health investments.
    • The introduction of electronic medical records (EMRs) in health facilities aims to improve the quality of health service delivery by providing real-time accountability transparency, and traceability of medical supplies, monitoring health worker absenteeism, enhancing patient satisfaction through efficient care provision, reducing unnecessary or duplicate diagnostic tests, and offering easy access to management reports for decision-making. Additionally, EMRs will lay the foundation for the implementation of national health insurance.
  • UgandaEMR+ Implementation Showcased at Kisenyi HCIV
    • METS and Reach Out Mbuya (ROM) showcased the implementation of UgandaEMR+ to representatives from the USG and the Ministry of Health (MoH) at Kisenyi HCIV. The visit was aimed at providing a clear understanding of the system’s functionality at the health facility, which serves over 1,200 outpatients daily and supports over 1600 clients on ART.
    • Dr. Peter Akonyera, the ART Clinic In Charge shared positive end-user experiences, noting simplified data use and analysis, efficient data retrieval, and the system’s popularity among users despite existing challenges. He appreciated METS’ support in maintaining system synchronization. The data visualization tools have been particularly useful for clinicians to manage patient schedules and workload distribution effectively, ensuring timely and efficient healthcare delivery.
  • METS Showcases Research at INTEREST 2024 Conference in Benin
    • The International Conference on HIV Treatment, Pathogenesis, and Prevention Research (INTEREST) brought together global scientists to share cutting-edge knowledge in HIV diagnosis, treatment, and prevention. The conference also aimed to build a community of African physicians and scientists to develop local solutions for managing HIV and preventing its transmission.
    • METS submitted an abstract titled “Enhancing HIV Case Identification through a National HIV Testing Services (HTS) Continuous Quality Improvement” based on support to the Ministry of Health (MoH) in designing, implementing, and evaluating initiatives to increase the identification of HIV-positive clients, crucial for achieving the global target of 95% of people living with HIV (PLHIV) knowing their status.
  • Gallery
    • New CDC Director meets Country implementing partner Executive Directors
    • UgandaEMR+ support supervision at Kisenyi HCIV visit
    • EMR Stakeholders meeting
    • CBS guidelines meeting
    • INTEREST 2024 conference – Benin
    • Key Populations assessment – Ishaka district

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SIMCS-Trial Vacancy Announcement: Twenty-Five (25) Research Assistants

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An elevated shot of the School of Health Sciences and School of Medicine Building, College of Health Sciences (CHS), Makerere University. Mulago Campus, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.

Makerere University College of Health Sciences School of Medicine in collaboration with Baylor College of Medicine received funding from US National Institutes of Health – Fogarty International Center to carry out a study on “Development and evaluation of an information management and communication system for population-wide point of-care infant sickle cell disease screening (SIMCS-Trial)”. The program seeks to recruit 25 research assistants at its study sites. 

Roles and responsibilities  

  • Identify and screen participants for possible enrolment into the study according to the Study Protocol.
  • Obtain informed consent from caregivers of eligible participants as per protocol accordance with GCP and HSP principles.
  • Counsel and explain study procedures to the caregivers of study participants using the mobile app.
  • Enrol eligible participants into the study to meet the study accrual targets.
  • Complete study CRFs, correctly and accurately in compliance with trial procedures/ SOPs and GCP standards.
  • Ensure study participants’ safety and privacy, data integrity and confidentiality.
  • Participate in collection of appropriate study samples/specimens from the participants as per protocol and SOPs as well as performing the test.
  • Carry out any other duties as assigned by superiors in line with your work.

Required Qualification and experience 

  • A degree in any health-related discipline, and registered with the relevant national bodies.
  • Knowledge and familiarity with Microsoft word, Excel, PowerPoint and Access as well as basic internet applications 
  • Skills in using common relevant computer packages and mobile technology for data collection
  • Previous work in a research environment is added advantage.
  • Basic knowledge of clinical research regulatory procedures. 
  • Good Clinical Practice (GCP) training and Research Ethics training skills and knowledge
  • Excellent command of English (written and oral) as well as the local languages (Luganda or Lusoga)
  • Excellent interpersonal skills to develop relationships with participants.
  • Experience of living and or working both in urban and rural environment.
  • Team-working skills to work effectively as part of a multidisciplinary healthcare team 
  • Time management skills and ability to handle multiple tasks simultaneously.
  • Highly organized, detail-oriented and self-motivated/driven. 
  • Ability to handle multiple tasks simultaneously. 
  • Ability to professionally communicate in writing, verbally or other means deemed appropriate. 

Reports to: The SIMCS Co-Investigator/SIMCS Trial Coordinator 

Expected start date: July 2024

How to apply: 1-page type written application letter addressed to the Principal Investigator SIMCS Trial MakCHS SOM together with current CV, copies of academic certificates, and recommendation letters from two past employers should be e-mailed as ONE PDF DOCUMENT to makimpact22@gmail.com

Deadline for receiving applications: Friday 20th June 2024 at 5:00 pm

Only shortlisted candidates will be invited to the interview. 

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