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Mak’s GMI Labs Authorized to Conduct DNA Paternity Testing

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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.

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Makerere University Research shows challenges facing Forcibly Displaced Persons (FDPs) with Chronic Disease in Northern Uganda

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Left to Right: Dr. Esther Nanfuka Kalule, a postdoc fellow on this study; Emma Ikwara, a researcher at CHDC; PhD student Onesmus Kamacooko at CHDC and Dr. Ritah Nakanjako interacting after the colloquium.

By Agnes Namaganda

Preliminary findings from a study by Child Health and Development Centre (CHDC) -Makerere University have revealed several challenges faced by Forcibly Displaced Persons (FDPs) with chronic diseases like diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular diseases. This study is specifically looking at FDPs in northern Uganda. Accessing food, water, medicine, clothing, toilet facilities, privacy and support is a challenge for healthy FDPs but for those with chronic diseases, these provisions may mean the difference between life and death.

According to Drs, Ritah Nakanjako and Esther Nanfuka Kalule, who are post-doc fellows at Makerere University, FDPs with chronic diseases are unable to access facilities with medicines. Speaking at the February monthly colloquium of CHDC, Dr. Nanfuka said, “Medicines and medical forms are sometimes forgotten by these patients yet some do not know the names of their medicines. For others, these medicines get finished along the way due to the abrupt movements.” These disturbances in the continuity of care affects their health and wellbeing.

Left to Right: Dr. Esther Nanfuka, Dr. Ritah Nakanjako, Dr. Godfrey Siu who is giving the presenters feedback about their presentation and Dr. Aggrey Dhabangi.
Left to Right: Dr. Esther Nanfuka, Dr. Ritah Nakanjako, Dr. Godfrey Siu who is giving the presenters feedback about their presentation and Dr. Aggrey Dhabangi.

As an example, she referred to the constant need to monitor blood pressure or blood sugar for these FDPs. “Even when facilities are available, you may not have the money to refill medicines or you may not remember the name of the medicine.” She added that the stress and trauma of this kind of situation usually exacerbates these conditions.

Speaking about the rationale for doing this research, Dr. Nakanjako said that non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are largely unrecognized and inadequately addressed in humanitarian settings, something which the Red Cross calls ‘a neglected crisis’.  Yet, studies conducted among refugees and asylum seekers across the world report a high burden of NCDs. Uganda hosts over 1.5m refugees, the highest proportion in sub-Saharan Africa with the majority comeing from South Sydan.

“The objective of this study is to examine the experiences of FDPs- which will contribute to knowledge on innovative ways of chronic disease care. This will also contribute to the management of NCDs in humanitarian, low resource settings,” Dr. Nakanjako explained.

Dr. Godfrey Siu (Left) and Dr. David Kyaddondo who is the Principal Investigator of this project interacting with other members of CHDC after the CHDC monthly colloquium which takes place every last Wednesday of the month.
Dr. Godfrey Siu (Left) and Dr. David Kyaddondo who is the Principal Investigator of this project interacting with other members of CHDC after the CHDC monthly colloquium which takes place every last Wednesday of the month.

This 5-year study that started in 2022 will run till 2026 and is funded by the Novo Nordisk Foundation under the Mobility-Global Medicine and Research Fund. It is a collaboration between three institutions; Makerere University, the University of Copenhagen, Denmark and the Sudan Centre for Strategic and Policy Studies in South Sudan. This research is taking place in Nyumanzi Reception Center in Adjumani district; Nyumanzi Refugee Settlement also in Adjumani district; IDP Settlements in South Sudan; and the Bidi Bidi Refugee Settlement in Yumbe District.

Other challenges revealed by the FDPs with chronic diseases include the fear of drinking recommended amounts of water before or during travel to manage urine and to avoid stop-overs for security reasons.

After arrival at Nyumanzi Reception Centre in Uganda, these FDPs with chronic diseases do not receive any special care. It is only those with communicable diseases like TB. Cholera or Covid19 that get special care. Other challenges include; “a limited range of drugs, maintenance of cold chains for insulin, rationed water, lack of drinking water, lack of sanitary facilities and the congestion.

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Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Short Course 2024

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Some of the 22 participants that successfully completed the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) certificate course joined by course facilitators and administrators show off their certificates in July 2022 at MakSPH. Makerere University School of Public Health, New Mulago Hospital Complex, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.

Did you know that with just a Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education (UACE) or its equivalent, along with at least 1 year of working experience in WASH, you qualify to join our Short Course in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene?

The Department of Disease Control and Environmental Health at Makerere University School of Public Health brings you yet another opportunity to enhance your skills and knowledge in Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene from for the 2024 intake, scheduled to run from 20th May to 12th July 2024.

Designed to equip practicing individuals with the necessary attitudes, skills, and scientific knowledge for effective WASH management, this course is open to officers with limited training in WASH and Environmental Health Practitioners seeking continuous professional development. For more details and application instructions, please refer to the attached course poster or visit the course website at https://sph.mak.ac.ug/academics/water-sanitation-and-hygiene-wash.

Apply before Thursday, 28th March 2024 for a rewarding learning experience!

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Call for Abstracts: Annual Health Professions Education Scientific Conference

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The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe (Centre Mak tie) with participants at the Health Professions Education Conference held 11th to 12th May 2023 at Hotel Africana, Kampala Uganda.

The Health Professions Education and Training for Strengthening the Health System and Services in Uganda Project (HEPI-SHSSU) at Makerere University College of Health Sciences (MakCHS) is organizing the Annual Health Professions Education Scientific Conference.

Venue: Hotel Africana, Kampala, Uganda

Conference Dates: 10th, 11th and 12th April 2024

Theme: Advances in Health Professions Education:  Research, Innovations in Teaching and Learning, Quality Assurance

Sub-Themes

  1. Quality Assurance and Accreditation
  2. Health Professions Education Research
  3. E-Learning 
  4. Innovations in teaching and learning
  5. Graduate Education
  6. Simulation-based Learning

Abstracts are welcome in any of the above areas for oral presentations, mini-workshops, thematic poster sessions, and didactic sessions.

We welcome abstracts from all people involved in the education and training of doctors, nurses, allied health professionals, students, health providers, and other stakeholders.

Abstract Submission:

Abstracts should be structured into:

Background, Objectives, Methods, Results, Conclusion

For Education innovations: What was the problem, What was done, Results, and Conclusion (300-word limit).

Include the details of the corresponding author, the author(s), their contacts, and Affiliation.

Send your abstract to: hepishssu@gmail.com

Deadline for Submission of abstracts: Saturday 23rd March 2024

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