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Mak-RIF Researchers Design a Tool to Monitor the Elderly with Dementia & Cognitive Impairment for Emergency Response

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Researchers from Makerere University College of Computing and Information Sciences (CoCIS), led by a second-year PhD student Paddy Junior Asiimwe have designed a device to monitor elderly people with dementia and cognitive impairment in rural Uganda.

The device, wearable by the elderly (on the hand like a wrist watch or placed in the pocket), will monitor the patients’ movement and location and then signal the caretaker and the hospital in case of emergencies.

This was disclosed during the research dissemination workshop held on 13th October, 2023 for the Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund (Mak-RIF) project titled, “Advanced Localisation Techniques on Smart Devices for Inclusive Location-based Services: A focus on healthy ageing for the elderly with dementia and mild cognitive impairment in rural communities”

This project relates to the ageing population that wants to live independent of their children or their children work in far away areas.

The Principal Investigator Mr. Paddy Junior Asiimwe noted that the biggest challenge is monitoring the elderly who are living in resource-constrained environments where access to power, internet, network and access to mobile communication is limited. The other challenge is people being not in a position to read and write.

Most available systems on the market according to Asiimwe assume that there is wireless internet everywhere, which is not the case with our local communities, more so in Uganda.

A display of the the technology design stages of the proposed wearable device to monitor elderly people with dementia and cognitive impairment in rural Uganda. College of Computing and Information Sciences (CoCIS), Makerere University. Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
A display of the the technology design stages of the proposed wearable device to monitor elderly people with dementia and cognitive impairment in rural Uganda.

“So we are designing a system that can monitor these elderly people within their homes and still give accurate results with less power consumption, with less cost, within the limited resources that are available in those communities.

The system, Asiimwe explained, basically monitors elderly people remotely using those limited resources that are available in those rural communities.

“Our device uses GPS technology. I would say GNSS or GPS technology because the system we use now has only GPS. This system works in a way that when we first define a safe zone around a user, in technical term, what we are calling a geofence.

When the user or what we are calling an elderly person is within that safe zone, the system does not need to continue tracking him, and then sends an alert to the caretaker or to the hospital in case of emergencies.

But during that time when the user is within the safe zone, we are using what we call a PDR system. In simple terms, we are using accelerometer, gyroscope, and magnetometer to monitor the position of the user within the safe zone.

PI Paddy Asiimwe explaining how the technology will work. College of Computing and Information Sciences (CoCIS), Makerere University. Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
PI Paddy Asiimwe explaining how the technology will work.

And GPS is only turned on when the user moves out of the safe zone. In the long run, since GPS is the biggest consumer of power, we end up using less energy because most of the time the system is turned off when the user is within the safe zone.”, The PI said.

Advantages of the device

This technology according to the PI is better than the systems existing on market and would be best recommended for more resource constrained environments, which is the biggest challenge that we have in Uganda as far as accessing resources is concerned.

“One, our system is going to be cheap. Two, our system is going to operate independent of the user.  The users that we have mostly in rural areas cannot read and write, and our system operates independent of them.

Three, one of the biggest challenges in these areas is power consumption, which is an assumption that most of these systems on market make, that power is everywhere. So our system can run on batteries, and these batteries, we don’t need to charge them every week, because, for example, from experiments, we tested and the battery can run for 30 days, which is enough time for someone to go and charge,” Mr. Asiimwe explained.

The technology was piloted in Apac district that formed the base for everything that was designed.

“We had a pilot study. We visited that area, met some families, also met the district administrators who took us around. We also met the administrators of the hospital, and we assessed the environment. And even after developing the system, we went back to conduct the tests. And most of the tests that we are basing on now to make results, were done in Apac district”.Asiimwe said.

Front Row: The Principal CoCIS-Prof. Tonny Oyana (Centre) with the PI Paddy Junior Asiimwe (4th Right), Mak-RIF Engagement Officer-Ms. Grace Ruto-Cherotich (3rd Right) and section of participants in a group photo after the dissemination of results on 13th October 2023. College of Computing and Information Sciences (CoCIS), Makerere University. Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Front Row: The Principal CoCIS-Prof. Tonny Oyana (Centre) with the PI Paddy Junior Asiimwe (4th Right), Mak-RIF Engagement Officer-Ms. Grace Ruto-Cherotich (3rd Right) and section of participants in a group photo after the dissemination of results on 13th October 2023.

Apac, according to the Principal investigator, is one of those districts in Uganda that are less developed and, with the biggest number of elderly people and more so those with dementia. In addition, the research team could easily access other projects that are already done by Makerere, like CityLab, which is already putting internet in Apac, plus some other projects that are running from Makerere that gave a foundation upon which to build the project.

After perfecting the performance of this prototype and, with more funding, the research team   hopes to add more sensors to these device. For example, elderly people face the challenge of falling down. So, the team would love to add sensors that can detect when a person has fallen down, which is something very challenging, especially in our communities because people have died in bathrooms as a result of these falls.

The team also looks forward to more funding to add in more sensors to monitor more things like temperature, heartbeat, and other body functions, because the network will be in place to send the information to the caretakers.

“And then the other thing that we can also look at, for example, we had this years’ challenge of COVID. It can also be used for patients for COVID. For example, we want to know, since we were fearing to be near COVID patients, we would use this technology to monitor them within their homes. And that is one thing that we can easily integrate with this system in case there is another outbreak in the near future, God forbid, our system could be a solution “, Asiimwe said

The system can do a lot more like monitoring children in this era of child trafficking among other challenges.

Scientists must do their best beyond the minimum expectation-Prof. Oyana

Presiding over the workshop, the Principal College of Computing and Information Sciences Prof. Tonny Oyana challenged researchers and staff to go beyond certain university metrics that they are expected to meet like publishing two papers for a PhD.

Oyana cautioned scientists not to be taken up by the two papers or publishing for purpose of promotion saying, what excites a good scientist is harvesting many papers and grants.

Prof. Tonny Oyana presiding over the dissemination workshop. College of Computing and Information Sciences (CoCIS), Makerere University. Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Prof. Tonny Oyana presiding over the dissemination workshop.

He advised Ugandans to emulate some universities around the world where scientists write five papers per year. With Uganda’s population of over 40 million people. Professor Oyana urged scientist to go beyond the standard and, the minimum if they are to remain competetive on the Ugandan and world market.

“So please, the work of a scientist is to do your best to be at your best to be optimum. Do four papers, five papers, why not? Remember that if you decide to become a scientist, you should have more. Be excited. Don’t do the minimum. If you set your standard here and you fall here, that’s good, but don’t set your standard too low.” The Principal advised.

Over 1,000 projects funded by Mak-RIF

Representing the Chair Grants Management Committee, the Mak-RIF Engagement Officer Grace Ruto-Cherotich, expressed delight and pride in the fact that the team had been able to reach the dissemination part of the project.

She said the Government of Uganda has taken keen interest in how different institutions of higher learning are contributing to national development.

“So the Mak-RIF was created with the objective of increasing generation of local research and scalable innovations that are specifically meant to impact national development. As Uganda, we have our national development plan. We are committed to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and so many other international treaties that we have signed as a nation”, she said.

Since the birth of the research and Innovation fund at Makerere, Cherotich said, so far over a thousand projects have been funded. She expressed the need for the PI to patent his product.

“We need to protect it so that by the time we introduce it to the stakeholders out there, it is already safeguarded”

She commended the research team for the multidisciplinary approach, bringing on board doctors engineers and the ICT department adding that, it is one of the Mak-RIF core values and principles.

“We want to see the multidisciplinary aspect because now this is an institution that has, or nurtures different skill sets. We have humanities, we have ICT, we have engineering, and we have medicine. So we want to see how we can leverage all those different opportunities we have, all the different colleges we have, to ensure that we build beautiful things that will cause impact to the nation.” Cherotich stressed.

Mak-RIF Engagement Officer Grace Ruto Cherotich making her remarks. College of Computing and Information Sciences (CoCIS), Makerere University. Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Mak-RIF Engagement Officer Grace Ruto Cherotich making her remarks.

She said that the Mak RIF research agenda is derived from the national development plan and SDGs with its own internal market area strategic plan focusing on the institution being a research-led, meaning that there is need to put a lot of effort in terms of research and innovations.

In that particular research agenda, she said  Mak-RIF has 14 thematic areas and recently did  an analysis of which areas in those particular themes have not been focused on much.

Cherotich reported that the thematic area that focuses on public service and productivity of public servants has not really been researched, yet recent discussions with Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Public Service revealed that Government has made progress in terms of increasing or raising the salary for scientists. However, the result of that is that people are resigning, leaving their jobs  to quickly get their pension and start their private business.

“So you ask yourself, where have we gone wrong in the decisions we make as a nation?

Because now that will mean that there’s going to be a very high pension budget, and then you’re going to have less productivity in the workplace. You’re even going to have reduced numbers of civil servants serving in those particular dockets of increased salaries”, she decried.

She implored researchers to do a lot of detailed research and come up with innovations to achieve what is positively impacting the nation.

The engagement officer equally commended the PI for the job well done.

 “Paddy has done a lot of work in harnessing ICT to drive development and that is our theme number 11. I want to tell Paddy that we are really, really humbled and at the same time excited that we have a result, we have a product out of the work we have funded at the Research and Innovations Fund.

“And for sure, we currently have the Innovations Hub at the College of Business and Management Sciences (CoBAMS), which is also funded by Mak-RIF, and focused on commercialization and scaling up of projects that we have already, to help us realize returns on investment. So it’s a good opportunity for you”. She appreciated and said:

Mak-RIF representative Grace Ruto-Cherotich (Left) interacts with the PI, Paddy Junior Asiimwe (Right). College of Computing and Information Sciences (CoCIS), Makerere University. Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Mak-RIF representative Grace Ruto-Cherotich (Left) interacts with the PI, Paddy Junior Asiimwe (Right).

“You know, there’s RIF-5 ongoing. So depending on what you would like to do going forward, do you want to focus on IP issues? Do you want to focus on collecting more data to prove that this device actually works? We can monitor and write reports and stories. And I also want to thank you very much for the fact that you have been able to publish. So those are some of the things we can highlight on the Mak-RIF website so that everybody gets to know that there has been good work done out of certain projects.”

Cherotich also notified the team of the availability of an Intellectual Property Management Office also funded by Mak-RIF that works with the Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB) to ensure that IP issues are catered for, as the only way the university can protect her innovations. She urged the research team to think of how they are going to ensure that their IP is protected.

She explained that Government gives Mak-RIF UGX 30 billion every financial year. In addition she said, Mak RIF has other opportunities on offer including competitive grants, multi-year projects, needs-based track, and the PhD track that have been introduced available for Makere University staff and students.

“We have the research support office that guides you through the processes of what you need to do when you have been awarded, and what happens post-award. They take you through contract signing processes, requisitioning processes, and procurement processes.

“We also support you when it comes to issues to do with report writing. We have quarterly reports, and ultimately the final reports. We also have the station where we are right now. We also support the whole process of dissemination. How would you want your dissemination done? How would you do your slides laid out? etc”, she added.

Cherotich advised the research team on the need to involve important stakeholders that can embed their work into the policy environment of the country, or where need be, scale it up beyond the scale of what the Mak-RIF grants facilitate.

Computing & IS

Uganda Launches AI Health Lab at Makerere University

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Left to Right: Prof. Edward Bbaale, Dr. Rose Nakasi, PS MoICT & NG Dr. Amina Zawedde and Prof. Tonny Oyana after unveiling the AI Health Lab on 30th May 2024. Launch of AI Health Lab, Block B, College of Computing and Information Sciences (CoCIS), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.

In a significant stride towards enhancing healthcare through technology, the Government of Uganda, in collaboration with Makerere University, has inaugurated the Artificial Intelligence Health Lab. This pioneering initiative aims to revolutionize healthcare delivery using artificial intelligence (AI), marking a crucial advancement for the nation. The lab is situated in Block B, College of Computing and Information Sciences

The Guest of Honor, University Management team and Panelists Cutting cake. Launch of AI Health Lab, Block B, College of Computing and Information Sciences (CoCIS), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
The Guest of Honor, University Management team and Panelists Cutting cake.

Launching the lab on 30th May 2024, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance,  Dr. Aminah Zawedde  highlighted the importance of this development. “Today marks a momentous occasion as we unveil the Artificial Intelligence Health Lab at Makerere University. This milestone signifies not just a step forward for the university but for our entire nation as we enter an era of innovation and advancement in healthcare through artificial intelligence,” she remarked.

Dr. Zawedde emphasized the transformative power of AI in healthcare, noting its potential to revolutionize diagnostics, treatment plans, and personalized care. She acknowledged the government’s ongoing efforts to integrate AI into healthcare through initiatives like telemedicine platforms, health data analytics, and AI-driven solutions in medical imaging and drug discovery.

However, she stressed the need for ethical and responsible AI deployment, addressing algorithmic biases, patient privacy, and equitable distribution of AI benefits.

Dr. Aminah Zawedde delivering her speech. Launch of AI Health Lab, Block B, College of Computing and Information Sciences (CoCIS), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Dr. Aminah Zawedde delivering her speech.

“The Ministry of ICT & National Guidance is committed to supporting AI adoption in healthcare through policy guidance, financial support, capacity building, and infrastructure development,” Dr. Zawedde stated. She called for collaboration among government agencies, academia, healthcare providers, and technology partners to advance AI initiatives responsibly.

Government Emphasizes Homegrown Solutions and Digital Priorities

Dr. Aminah Zawedde,  highlighted the importance of prioritizing locally developed solutions to better understand and effectively address national challenges. She outlined five key priorities for Uganda’s digital transition, focusing on infrastructure, accessibility, digital services, cybersecurity, data protection, privacy, digital skilling, and innovation.

Regarding infrastructure and connectivity, the government aims to expand coverage to 70% of the country within the next five years, with ongoing projects supported by the World Bank and China. This initiative targets essential institutions like schools, hospitals, administrative offices, and innovation hubs.

A section of participants attending the function. Launch of AI Health Lab, Block B, College of Computing and Information Sciences (CoCIS), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
A section of participants attending the function.

Ensuring accessibility of gadgets, particularly smartphones, is another critical focus area. Recognizing the importance of these devices for accessing digital technologies and apps, efforts are underway to lower costs through measures such as tax waivers and local manufacturing.

Additionally, the government is prioritizing the transition of services online to enhance efficiency, transparency, accountability, and ease of doing business. This move aligns with existing regulations and guidelines for digital transformation, with an emphasis on overcoming implementation challenges related to financial resources, capacity, and awareness creation.

Cybersecurity, data protection, and privacy are also paramount, with plans to develop trusted systems to safeguard digital infrastructure and user information. Furthermore, digital skilling initiatives aim to equip end-users and office management with the necessary skills for effective digital operations.

Finally, the government emphasizes innovation and entrepreneurship, celebrating community-driven solutions that are sustainable, acceptable, and impactful. This focus underscores the commitment to fostering a thriving ecosystem of innovation that addresses the needs of Ugandan society.

Ministry of Health  Highlights Urgent Need for AI in Ugandan Healthcare

Dr. Myers Lugemwa from the National Malaria Control Program presented a compelling case for the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) tools in Uganda’s healthcare system. Addressing the current health challenges and the potential of AI, Dr. Lugemwa underscored the transformative impact these technologies could have on disease diagnosis and management.

Dr. Myres Lugemwa speaking. Launch of AI Health Lab, Block B, College of Computing and Information Sciences (CoCIS), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Dr. Myres Lugemwa speaking.

“Globally, low-income countries face a higher burden of communicable diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS,” Dr. Lugemwa noted. “Despite a significant global decline in these diseases, they remain prevalent in countries like Uganda, where communicable diseases account for over 50% of morbidity and mortality.”

Malaria diagnostics primarily rely on tools like mRDTs, blood slide microscopy, and PCR tests, which are either expensive or not widely available. Similar challenges exist for other diseases such as cancer, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, and intestinal parasites, which are diagnosed through methods that may not be accessible at lower-level health centers.

Dr. Lugemwa highlighted the promise of Makerere University’s AI Health-Lab in addressing these diagnostic challenges. “AI tools could revolutionize the accuracy and accessibility of disease diagnosis,” he said. “From improving malaria diagnostics to streamlining cancer screening and diagnosis, AI has the potential to transform healthcare delivery in Uganda.”

Furthermore, Dr. Lugemwa discussed the role of AI in predicting disease patterns affected by climate change, such as malaria, and the importance of electronic health records (EHRs) in improving patient management and healthcare delivery.

“In summary, AI Health-Lab is poised to be a game-changer for Uganda’s healthcare system,” Dr. Lugemwa emphasized. “It aligns with Makerere University’s mission to ‘Build For the Future’ and addresses the Alma-Ata Declaration’s call for local tools that are readily available, accessible, affordable, and user-friendly. The integration of AI in healthcare is not just a technological advancement but a critical necessity for improving health outcomes in Uganda.” Lugema stressed

Makerere University’s Role

Representing Makerere University’s Vice Chancellor, Prof. Edward Bbaale, Director of the Directorate of Graduate Research and Training, expressed pride in the university’s achievements. He underscored Makerere’s proactive steps in promoting AI, including establishing dedicated AI labs, integrating AI courses into the curriculum, and fostering partnerships.

Prof. Edward Bbaale representing the Vice Chancellor. Launch of AI Health Lab, Block B, College of Computing and Information Sciences (CoCIS), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Prof. Edward Bbaale representing the Vice Chancellor.

“The establishment of the AI Health Lab is the culmination of a vision that aligns with Makerere University’s mission to be a thought leader in research, innovation, and academic excellence,” Prof. Bbaale stated. He highlighted the lab’s role in fostering interdisciplinary collaboration and innovation, with potential applications ranging from predictive models for disease outbreaks to personalized treatment plans.

Prof. Bbaale also lauded groundbreaking projects spearheaded by Makerere University’s College of Computing and Information Sciences. These include the AirQo project, which deploys low-cost air monitoring systems, and AI-based tools for agricultural disease tracking and medical diagnostics. Notably, the AI Lab, under Dr. Rose Nakasi’s leadership, secured a $1.5 million grant from Google for the Ocular project, automating diagnoses for Malaria, Tuberculosis, and Cervical Cancer.

To the students and researchers, Prof. Bbaale urged them to seize the opportunities presented by the AI Health Lab. “This lab is not just a facility; it is a beacon of possibilities. Engage deeply with the work, collaborate across disciplines, and be bold in your pursuit of solutions that can change the world,” he encouraged.

He also outlined the university’s commitment to moving the entire research value chain from conceptualization to commercialization, ensuring that research translates into products and services that benefit communities.

The launch of the AI Health Lab at Makerere University signifies a significant leap forward in Uganda’s healthcare sector. With continued support and collaboration, this initiative promises to harness the power of AI to improve health outcomes, making a tangible difference in the lives of many. As Dr. Zawedde concluded, “Let us embark on this journey with optimism and determination, knowing that our efforts today will shape the future of healthcare for generations to come.”Bbaale added

Makerere University’s AI Lab Announces Ambitious Plans for Healthcare Innovation

Makerere University’s AI Lab is embarking on an ambitious journey to revolutionize healthcare through advanced artificial intelligence (AI) technologies. Dr. Rose Nakasi, the project leader, unveiled the lab’s comprehensive strategy aimed at addressing critical health challenges and improving patient outcomes through innovative AI solutions and interdisciplinary collaboration.

PI Dr. Rose Nakasi making her remarks. Launch of AI Health Lab, Block B, College of Computing and Information Sciences (CoCIS), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
PI Dr. Rose Nakasi making her remarks.

In her presentation, Dr. Nakasi emphasized the lab’s vision of “Transforming Healthcare Through Innovative AI Solutions” and its mission “To drive innovation in artificial intelligence research to effectively address and overcome pressing health challenges.” The lab’s approach focuses on developing practical AI applications, fostering interdisciplinary collaboration, and deepening the understanding of AI’s transformative potential through rigorous research and evaluation.

Among the key projects highlighted by Dr. Nakasi is the Ocular Project, a decision support tool designed to reduce diagnosis time and improve accuracy. Supported by a recent $1.5 million grant from Google, this project aims to automate diagnoses for diseases such as Malaria, Tuberculosis, and Cervical Cancer. Additionally, the DS Malaria project focuses on in-field automated screening trials to enhance malaria diagnosis, while initiatives like curating datasets for malaria diagnostics and digital Pap smear images aim to improve the accuracy and efficiency of disease screening.

Looking ahead, Dr. Nakasi outlined the lab’s vision for continued innovation and growth, including addressing challenges in the health sector and collaborating with regulators to refine and develop new approaches for healthcare needs. She highlighted the lab’s commitment to nurturing the next generation of AI and healthcare experts, with a growing team of PhD and master’s students.

“With more innovation and focus, we aim to address the most pressing healthcare challenges and make a lasting impact on our communities,” Dr. Nakasi stated. Makerere University’s AI Lab, under her leadership, is poised to lead the way in integrating AI into healthcare, reflecting a strong commitment to leveraging technology for the betterment of society.

The opening ceremony was marked by a congratulatory address from the Principal College of Computing and Information Sciences Prof. Tonny Oyana, who lauded Dr. Rose Nakasi and her team for their exemplary research stewardship.

Prof. Tonny Oyana speaking during the launch. Launch of AI Health Lab, Block B, College of Computing and Information Sciences (CoCIS), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Prof. Tonny Oyana speaking during the launch.

Oyana said the inauguration of this facility marks a significant step forward in the college’s commitment to advancing research and development in artificial intelligence, ensuring that it remains at the forefront of technological innovation

“Congratulations to Dr. Rose Nakasi and her team for their excellent research stewardship,” Prof. Oyana stated. He emphasized the lab’s potential to serve as a dynamic environment for academic growth and experimentation. “Use the new lab to learn, test, grow, and nurture academic talent,” he urged the attendees.

Prof. Oyana also highlighted the lab’s role in promoting interdisciplinary activities. “Use the lab to carry out synergistic activities that promote AI in health,” he said, stressing the importance of integrating artificial intelligence with healthcare advancements.

The facility is expected to become a cornerstone for building sustainable academic and professional relationships. “Use the lab to grow enduring pipelines and long-lasting academic activities and friendships among students and scientists,” Prof. Oyana added.

The new AI research lab, equipped with state-of-the-art technology, aims to provide greater hope and opportunities for students and scientists. “Today, we open a new facility that will provide greater hope and opportunities for our students and scientists,” Prof. Oyana concluded.

Sunbird AI Highlights Potential and Pitfalls of AI for Social Good

Prof. John Quinn from Sunbird AI delivered insightful remarks on the application of artificial intelligence (AI) for social good, emphasizing both its potential benefits and the challenges that need to be addressed.

Prof. Quinn outlined several key areas where AI can have a substantial impact. He noted that AI can compensate for the scarcity of experts by providing critical support in fields such as healthcare and education. AI can also enhance data collection and analysis, aiding in better decision-making and resource allocation. Additionally, AI can be used to create detailed maps, aiding urban planning and noise pollution monitoring.

Prof. John Quinn speaking. Launch of AI Health Lab, Block B, College of Computing and Information Sciences (CoCIS), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Prof. John Quinn speaking.

However, Prof. Quinn also highlighted various challenges and unintended consequences associated with AI deployment. He discussed the unexpected difficulties in implementing AI solutions, including technical and human factors.

Technical challenges include limitations of power, network, and devices, which may hinder the deployment of advanced AI technologies in many regions. Furthermore, comprehensive end-to-end solutions might be required, which can be complex and resource-intensive. The lifespan of AI projects can often outlast the typical lifespan of startups or academic projects, posing sustainability challenges. Ensuring long-term functionality and support for AI systems is crucial.

Human factors also play a significant role in the challenges faced by AI deployment. Identifying the right problem from a distance can be challenging, necessitating local insights and collaboration. Successful AI projects often require significant organizational effort beyond the technical work. Building and maintaining trust among various stakeholders is essential for effective collaboration.

Prof. Quinn also addressed the unintended consequences of AI implementation. He pointed out that AI systems can perpetuate or even exacerbate existing biases if not carefully designed and monitored. Without equitable access to AI technologies, existing inequalities can be deepened. Relying on new technologies can create vulnerabilities if the infrastructure is not robust. An excessive focus on prototyping, referred to as “pilotitis,” can consume resources without leading to scalable solutions. The introduction of AI technologies often brings new ethical dilemmas that need to be addressed. Additionally, issues with the quality and representativeness of training data can lead to inaccurate or biased AI models.

Prof. Quinn’s remarks underscored the dual-edged nature of AI in social applications. While AI has the potential to address significant challenges and improve lives, it also brings technical, organizational, and ethical challenges that must be navigated carefully. As AI continues to evolve, stakeholders must work collaboratively to harness its benefits while mitigating its risks.

Testimonials Highlight the Impact of AI in Healthcare Diagnostics

Alfred Andama, reflecting on the journey from 2014 to 2024, shared compelling testimonies from Mulago Hospital, Makerere University College of Health Sciences (MakCHS), and other lower health facilities regarding the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) in healthcare diagnostics.

Dr. Andama Fred testifying on the potential of AI and acceptance at Mulago hospital. Launch of AI Health Lab, Block B, College of Computing and Information Sciences (CoCIS), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Dr. Andama Fred testifying on the potential of AI and acceptance at Mulago hospital.

He said Initial Target Diseases  primarily centered on malaria, tuberculosis, and intestinal parasites. During data collection at various labs, Andama and his team encountered enthusiastic groups of lab practitioners eager to embrace AI for improving diagnosis.

At health centers up to level III, where young lab technicians and technologists were predominant, the prospect of using mobile applications for diagnosis elicited genuine excitement.

Andama confirmed the feasibility of utilizing smartphones at the lowest levels for diagnosis, addressing a crucial question raised by stakeholders.

“Clinicians expressed interest in the reliability and accuracy of AI-driven diagnosis tools. They sought clarity on decision-making processes compared to human judgments.

Health administrators were concerned about personnel shortages and how AI could alleviate the burden. The adoption of AI microscopy could potentially reduce the time spent on malaria smear microscopy by 25%.” Said Andama

Policy-makers  according to Andama focused on affordability and feasibility, particularly for rural areas. The adaptability of AI tools to existing smartphone and microscope infrastructure was seen as a promising solution.

The discussion he said, expanded to the potential deployment of AI in sickle cell diagnosis, blood cancers, urinary tract infections, and respiratory disease smears, indicating broader applications beyond the initial scope.

He reported that  Mulago hospital under the College of Health Sciences is already utilizing AI in various capacities, such as analyzing cough samples to differentiate between tuberculosis patients and those with normal cough.

Andama’s testimonies underscore the growing acceptance and implementation of AI in healthcare diagnostics, promising improved efficiency and accuracy in disease detection and treatment.

A panel of experts during the panel discussions. Launch of AI Health Lab, Block B, College of Computing and Information Sciences (CoCIS), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
A panel of experts during the panel discussions.

The inauguration was highlighted by panel discussions and plenary sessions on “Leveraging AI for a Healthier Future: Practical Solutions for Africa.” Notable speakers included Prof. Micheal Kawooya, Director of ECUREI; Assoc. Prof. Engineer Bainomugisha, Head of the Department of Computer Science at Makerere University; Mr. Sumba Solomon from the Ocular Project; Ms. Sylivia Nabukenya from the Infectious Disease Institute at Makerere University, Dr. Joyce Nakatumba Nabende  of the AI Research Lab; and Lwasa Baker from Rocket Health.

Dean EASLIS and Panelist (Left Behind row) and Seated (Left to Right) Prof. Edward Bbaale, Dr. Rose Nakasi and Prof Tony Oyana in photo moment with the Chief Guest (2nd Left) after the official opening. Launch of AI Health Lab, Block B, College of Computing and Information Sciences (CoCIS), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Dean EASLIS and Panelist (Left Behind row) and Seated (Left to Right) Prof. Edward Bbaale, Dr. Rose Nakasi and Prof Tony Oyana in photo moment with the Chief Guest (2nd Left) after the official opening.
The participants pose for a group photo with the PI Dr. Rose Nakasi. Launch of AI Health Lab, Block B, College of Computing and Information Sciences (CoCIS), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
The participants pose for a group photo with the PI Dr. Rose Nakasi.

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Computing & IS

CoCIS CIPSD Short Courses Jul, Sept, Nov 2024 & Jan 2025

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Students use computers in one of the Labs at the College of Computing and Information Sciences (CoCIS), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda. Date taken: 12th August 2010.

Makerere University College of Computing and Information Sciences (CoCIS) is the main ICT Training, Research and Consultancy Centre in Makerere University. The College has six Academic departments comprising of the Department of Computer Science, Department of Networks, Department of Information Technology, Department of Information Systems, Department of Library and Information Sciences, and the Department of Records and Archives management.

In addition to the mainstream degree programmes, CoCIS has a specialized Center for Innovations and Professional Skills Development (CIPSD) which delivers state-of-art training in ICT e.g. the Cisco Networking Academy for Cisco related courses, the Microsoft IT Academy Program for Microsoft related courses, International Computer Driving License course, Oracle Certified Training center for Oracle, Linux and Unix Training center. The College is also an authorized Testing center, operating under PearsonVUE and Kryterion. Listed in the table below are the courses currently offered at the Center with their next start dates, duration, and cost.

  • All courses are at affordable fees targeting Senior 4 and 6 vacists and the general public at large.
  • Utilize your vacation and achieve an international certificate to help your future career and stand out from the crowd.
  • July 2024 / September 2024 / November 2024 / January 2025 (For all courses)

Contact Information

E-mail: psd@cis.mak.ac.ug
Tel: +256 392 000 180
Mob: +256 782 512 897

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Free Course: Introduction to Data Science

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Dr. Nakibuule Rose from CoCIS (Right) talks to the delegates about the E-health system-Mobile data collector during their tour of Mak-RIF projects. Visit by 27th CSPOC Delegates to Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa on 5th January 2024.

Makerere University in partnership with the Cisco Networking Academy is offering this free course on a self-paced/independent study basis for the period Apr 15, 2024 – Apr 26, 2024.

Learnathon2024_#GICT_Introduction to Data Science: This introductory course takes you inside the world of data science. You will learn the basics of data science, data analytics, and data engineering to understand how machine learning is shaping the future of business, healthcare, education, and more. Data science professionals who can provide actionable insights for data-driven decisions are in high demand all over the world.

Register using the link below

https://skillsforall.com/course/introduction-data-science?courseLang=en-US&instance_id=124a7432-4564-4605-aa62-b7ad5721807c

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