MUCHAP, the Makerere University Centre for Health and Population Research, is dedicated to improving the well-being of the Ugandan population through the generation and dissemination of high-quality demographic, health, and socio-economic information. With a focus on the Iganga-Mayuge Health and Demographic Surveillance Site (IMHDSS), MUCHAP has been actively engaged in monitoring births, deaths, and migrations for over 15 years. By conducting impactful research that addresses community needs, MUCHAP aims to bridge the gap between academic research and the practical needs of households and individuals.
To further this mission, MUCHAP is organizing a health camp in Wairama trading centre, Nakigo sub-county, Iganga district on 17th June, 2023, starting at 9:00 AM. Building upon the success of a previous health camp in 2017, which collected over 700 units of blood and served more than 2,000 community members, this upcoming event aims to tackle the significant challenge of child mortality in the region. By raising awareness, improving access to healthcare services, and investigating the causes of child death, the health camp strives to enhance the overall health of the community.
The core objective of the community engagement, which includes a medical camp, is to bring the university’s research directly to the community, incorporating community voices and addressing their needs. Dr. Dan Kajungu, the Lead Research Scientist and Executive Director of MUCHAP, outlines the objectives of the medical camp.
“These include health education on topics such as childhood immunization, child and maternal health, health-seeking behaviors, personal and household hygiene, and early screening and diagnosis for non-communicable diseases like diabetes, cancers, and cardiovascular diseases.
“Additionally, the camp aims to provide feedback to the community regarding past research conducted and its implications for population well-being. Furthermore, the event will facilitate a dialogue on innovative technologies such as the minimally invasive tissue sampling (MITS) method for determining the cause of death, which involves conducting autopsies without fully opening the body” he said.
The health camp will also serve as an opportunity to sensitize and engage the community about the importance of registering all births and deaths with the National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA) systems. Recognizing that many events, including those occurring within health facilities, often go unregistered in the Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS) system, the HDSS is collaborating with NIRA to enhance registration through community structures such as Village Health Teams (VHTs) and Local Council One Chairpersons. Leveraging their experience and expertise in community-level registration since 2005, MUCHAP aims to promote comprehensive CRVS coverage.
Looking ahead, MUCHAP envisions establishing a community research and public health laboratory that is accessible and community friendly. This laboratory will provide convenient services to community members while facilitating essential research, similar to centers in South Africa and other developed countries.
This endeavor is supported by the Makerere University Biomedical Research Center (MakBRC), which builds upon existing infrastructure that was partly funded by Pfizer International by contributing to the construction of the current center premises.
Working with healthcare workers from Iganga General Hospital and other community-based public health facilities, the health camp will offer a range of activities including community engagement, health education talks, screenings, and laboratory tests for common diseases. Community members will receive various products and services, such as treated mosquito nets, family planning services, medication, and immunizations for eligible individuals.
Through these initiatives, MUCHAP aims to empower the community with knowledge, resources, and improved access to healthcare, thereby addressing key health challenges and working towards a robust disease surveillance system at the community level.
Mak’s GMI Labs Authorized to Conduct DNA Paternity Testing
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.
MNCH e-Post Issue 121: Learning from Nsambya Hospital Human Milk Bank to inform national scale-up & save preterm babies
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
METS Newsletter October 2023
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.
- 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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