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Mak and Karolinska to Continue Prioritising Sustainable Health

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Makerere University and Karolinska Institutet Sweden have embarked on undertaking strategies aimed at ensuring that sustainable health becomes a priority on the global agenda. This was revealed during a high level meeting involving Makerere University Management and a delegation from the Karolinska Institutet Sweden, held on Tuesday 6th February 2024 at the Rotary Peace Centre Board Room, Frank Kalimuzo Central Teaching Facility.

The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe welcomed the Vice President of Karolinska Institutet Prof. Martin Bergö and his delegation to Makerere University. Reflecting on Makerere University’s 100 year journey (1922-2022), the Vice Chancellor pointed out that the institution has been at the forefront of training human resources who have been key in the identification and finding solutions to various development challenges.

Makerere is a very collaborative university. We have collaborations within Africa of course, most of our external collaborations are in Europe and the United States. Times Higher Education (THE) considers Makerere the most collaborative university on their database,” said Professor Barnabas Nawangwe.

Adding that; “We publish jointly with a professor at another university, more than any other university in the world, 167 MOUs signed in one year and quite a number of them are very active and particularly in the College of Health Sciences.”

Professor Nawangwe also expressed the government of Uganda’s support to the Makerere University’s research agenda through its funding commitments under the Research and Innovation Fund.“When the SIDA support was due to end, I accompanied the Swedish Ambassador to go and see our Minister of Education and Sports, who is our First Lady as well, and he told her, ‘Swedish support is going to end in two years. Is the government going to take over?’ And she said, ‘yes we shall.’ For the first time, the government committed an equivalent of about $8 million dollars every year for research at Makerere University. A lot of projects have been funded. There are more than 1,250 since the project started four years that have been funded. 39% of all the grants are going to health,” shared Prof. Nawangwe.

Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe (Right) and Prof. Martin Bergö (Left) during the courtesy call prior to the meeting. Frank Kalimuzo Central Teaching Facility, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe (Right) and Prof. Martin Bergö (Left) during the courtesy call prior to the meeting.

As Makerere University embraces the next century, Prof. Nawangwe said that partnerships with Karolinska Institutet will be leveraged to ensure that research in sustainable health takes centre stage.  “Global Health is a major issue. The Centre for Excellence for Sustainable Health, which is a collaboration between Makerere University in Uganda and Karolinska Institutet in Sweden will be central in addressing global issues.”

In this regard, the Vice Chancellor implored the researchers at Makerere and Karolinska to explore bringing more academic disciplines on board including those in agriculture, food security, gender, architecture, to mention but a few, for a holistic approach.  In the same vein, the Director of Research and Graduate Training, Prof. Edward Bbaale proposed the need to include smart energy options, climate change, nutrition as well as the environment into sustainable health. For instance, how do nutritionists contribute to sustainable health?

Prof. Tobias Alfvén, a Pediatrician and Researcher at Karolinska Institutet, and Co-Chair of the CESH Working Group, underscored the fundamental role of the longstanding 20-year relationship between the two institutions and the dedicated teams involved in facilitating this work. Reflecting on the genesis of their collaboration, he explains, “We met just a month before the pandemic hit Sweden and Uganda, and we started collaboration; everything went online, and we started developing what became the Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Health (CESH). Without that long-term thinking and the good team already there, we would not have achieved that.”

Prof. Rhoda Wanyenze, the Dean, Makerere University School of Public Health (MakSPH) and Co-Chair of the Centre’s Working Group informed the University Management and the visiting delegation that sustainable health involves humans, animals, and the environment. In this regard, the CESH has embraced a multi-disciplinary approach towards research by involving students from different disciplines. She pointed out that CESH has identified students from the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (studying climate change) and those from MakSPH (Environmental Health Sciences) to form research teams that will provide solutions to global health issues.

Left to Right: Prof. Umar Kakumba, Prof. Martin Bergö, Prof. Rhoda Wanyenze and Ms. Monika Berge-Thelander during a courtesy call on the DVCAA in his office. Senate Building, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Left to Right: Prof. Umar Kakumba, Prof. Martin Bergö, Prof. Rhoda Wanyenze and Ms. Monika Berge-Thelander during a courtesy call on the DVCAA in his office.

The CESH Working Group’s three-year commitment to promoting sustainable health practices was emphasized by Prof. Wanyenze who also reported a notable shift in focus toward sustainable health during sessions of the World Health Summit held last year.

“We can work together and learn from each other and we can bridge those gaps and the challenges that are leaving some of these vulnerable groups behind. It might be refugees’ issues in Uganda, it might be other disadvantaged groups within Sweden, but we can learn from one another and be able to reach out to them,” Professor Rhoda Wanyenze.

She added that; “When we are thinking about our health and wellbeing today, we should not have the health and well-being of future populations because there are many things we do today to keep ourselves happy and healthy that will affect those that are coming after us.”

Dr. Roy Mayega, an alumnus of Karolinska Institutet and a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at MakSPH acknowledged Makerere University for valuing the partnership through funding research in sustainable health.  He also pointed out that the research teams were discovering new issues such as gender and climate change in the realization of sustainable health.

Left to Right: Prof. Roy Mayega, Prof. Stefan Peterson Swartling and Prof. Tobias Alfvén during the courtesy call on the DVCAA in his office. Senate Building, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Left to Right: Prof. Roy Mayega, Prof. Stefan Peterson Swartling and Prof. Tobias Alfvén during the courtesy call on the DVCAA in his office.

On behalf of Karolinska Institutet, Prof. Martin Bergö thanked the Makerere University Management for the warm reception and the commitment to sustainable health. He mentioned that this was his first visit to Uganda and Makerere University. Acknowledging the partnership between both institutions for the last 22 years, Prof. Bergö who is the current Chairman of the Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Health expressed delight at being part of this collaboration.

He noted that all crises, whether caused by pandemics, poverty, conflicts, or climate change, have an impact on both physical and mental health. He further noted that the link between human, animal, and plant health, known as “One health” increases the importance of collaborating and working together across borders and between different sectors of society.

Prof. Bergö nevertheless acknowledged that people are at the heart of collaborations. “However, partnerships are foremost between people”, he noted, before adding “Building equitable personal relationships and learning from one another. This is perhaps the most important objective of this visit!”

He commended CESH, whose evaluation of the first three years of operation 2021-2023 revealed that the Centre was well on its way to achieving the set objectives. CESH has to date developed four out of planned five tools for working with sustainable health, while the last one is being finalized. “The tools are being used in education and research and I am happy to learn that we are making an impact.”

Prof. Martin Bergö (Left) and Prof. Rhoda Wanyenze (Right) during the courtesy call on the DVCAA in his office. Senate Building, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Prof. Martin Bergö (Left) and Prof. Rhoda Wanyenze (Right) during the courtesy call on the DVCAA in his office.

Prof. Bergö equally commended Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe and the former President of Karolinska Institutet, Prof. Ole Petter Ottersen on co-authoring a publication defining sustainable health. Other co-authors included Rhoda Wanyenze, Tobias Alfvén, Rawlance Njejjo, Nina Viberg, Roy William Mayega, and Stefan Swartling Peterson.

“I have read it with much interest and see myself as an ambassador for spreading the concept in different contexts. I am pleased to understand that this definition is the point of departure for all activities devised and carried out by the Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Health” he said, adding that the Karolinska Institutet President, Annika Östman Wernerson is looking forward to visiting Makerere University this November.

During this interactive meeting, both institutions underscored the role of the library in advancing research and preservation of knowledge. The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe pointed that the Makerere University Library serves as a national reference library as well as a legal and United Nations repository. He therefore acknowledged the support received from NORAD and Sida in the professionalization of library services and making it a model library in Africa.  Prof. Bergö mentioned that libraries are the guardians of knowledge and thanked the Vice Chancellor for inviting the University Librarian to the discussion.

Makerere University Management Members who attended the meeting included: Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic Affairs)-Assoc. Prof. Umar Kakumba, Director Research and Graduate Training-Prof. Edward Bbaale, Director of Quality Assurance-Dr. Cyprian Misinde, Academic Registrar-Prof. Buyinza Mukadasi, University Librarian-Assoc. Prof. Ruth Nalumaga, Deputy University Secretary-Mr. Simon Kizito, Head of Advancement Office- Mr. Awel Uwihanganye, and Principal Public Relations Officer-Ms Ritah Namisango

Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe (Left) and Prof. Martin Bergö (right) interact with staff from Makerere and Karolinska during the meeting. Rotary Peace Centre Board Room, Frank Kalimuzo Central Teaching Facility, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe (Left) and Prof. Martin Bergö (right) interact with staff from Makerere and Karolinska during the meeting.

The Karolinska Institutet delegation included; Head of the International Office-Erika Dabhilkar, Co-chair of CESH-Tobias Alfvén, International Coordinator-Monika Berge-Thelander, Project Coordinator-Nina Viberg, Member of CESH Steering Committee-Stefan Peterson Swartling, and Communications Officer-Kseniya Hartvigsson.

Teams Visit the Swedish Ambassador’s residence

While hosting the two institutions, H.E. Maria Håkansson, the Ambassador of Sweden to Uganda, emphasized the significant ties between the two nations and their respective peoples as key drivers for this 22 year-old partnership.

“Collaboration between Karolinska and Makerere is still one of the most important international flagships. Which I think says a lot of what has been built and what the relations that have been creating between institutions but of course also between people. Also, we all know individually what role the university researchers play in the country’s policy development,” said Amb. Håkansson

Adam Kahsai-Rudebeck, First Secretary – Deputy Head of Cooperation Health and Social Protection at the Swedish Embassy added “We look forward to just building upon the already established relationships and initiatives that are ongoing.”

A Video Highlighting the Visit

Highlights of KI- Mak #CESH Working group Engagements in Kampala, February 2024

Photography and Video by Davidson Ndyabahika

Health

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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CTCA Call for Proposals: Enhance Tobacco Control Institutional Capacity in Africa

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Call for Proposals - Project Title: Enhance Tobacco Control Institutional Capacity in Africa; Grant #339. Deadline 30th June 2024, by 5pm EAT. The Centre for Tobacco Control in Africa (CTCA), School of Public Health, College of Health Sciences (CHS), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.

Project Title: Enhance Tobacco Control Institutional Capacity in Africa; Grant #339

Introduction:

The Centre for Tobacco Control in Africa (CTCA) received funding from the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) for the 2024-2026 to implement a project on institutional capacity. The project investments are geared towards sustaining human resource capacity and knowledge generation to reduce use of all forms of tobacco products in Africa. Specifically, the project aims to:

  1. Enhance training opportunities for African governments and relevant actors in tobacco control in
    the continent
  2. Increase access to knowledge for guiding tobacco use prevention and control in Africa
  3. Reinforce the institutional development of CTCA for an optimal performance of its functions
    and processes.

In 2020, CTCA developed a Tobacco Control Research Agenda (TCRA) with the aim of providing a guide for generating local evidence to drive tobacco control policy formulation and implementation in Africa.

Therefore, CTCA with support from ACBF is seeking researchers across the African continent to be awarded 6 small grants of USD 5000 to implement research that aligns with the TCRA thematic areas below:

  1. Patterns and trends of tobacco use and exposure for all tobacco products including the new
    products at country and regional levels (sex, age, region, types of products, new products).
  2. Effects of tobacco use and exposure on sustainable development (poverty, education, culture, food security, environment, HIV, TB, reproductive health, NCDs).
  3. Tobacco use and populations at risk (youth, young adults, women/gender, elderly, residents
    of urban areas, miltary, prisoners, mental health patients, populations in low socio-economic
    dwellings like slums).
  4. Tobacco control policy research and analysis (smoke free, TAPS, GHWs, ceasation) of cost
    effectiveness, impact, drivers, enablers, innovation, challenges, communication and advocacy
    for tobacco control.
  5. Sociocultural context of tobacco use
  6. Tobacco industry and tobacco control policy
  7. Tobacco production, alternative livelihoods and environment (distribution, value chain,
    environmental impact, historical and determinants of tobacco production)
  8. The economics of tobacco and tobacco control (product, pricing, illicit tobacco trade,
    taxation)

The full research Agenda can be accessed in English and in French.

Submissions

We are pleased to invite submissions from researchers based in Africa. Successful proposals should align with any of the 8 thematic areas of the CTCA Research Agenda. Innovative proposals that address critical issues and contribute to evidence-based policy and practice in the respective areas to inform Tobacco control in Africa are particularly encouraged.

Requirements

These grants will fund work that relates to the CTCA Research Agenda. Activities will include
proposal development, data collection and analysis, report writing and dissemination. All research to be implemented will be approved by the institutional review board and published in peer reviewed journals. These grants are intended for; 1) Researchers based in Tobacco Control Programs/Response; 2) post graduate students who would like to complete their research projects aligned to this call and 3) early and middle career researchers. It is required that this research is executed, and the report completed within 12 months. The applicant should have a mentor in an established institution.

Eligibility

Eligibility is restricted to Africa-based researchers. This refers to individuals who are (a) currently studying at a university or research institute in Africa, and/or b) currently working within a university, research institute, or in tobacco control in Africa. All persons associated with tobacco industry will not be funded and therefore should not apply. Successful applicants will be required to sign a declaration of interest that they do not have any relationship with tobacco industry.

Evaluation criteria

Proposals will be reviewed by a group of experts and researchers. Projects will be assessed against six, equally weighted evaluation criteria:

  • Knowledge contribution in respect to policy, strategy, and evidence to answer local
    challenges:
    Does the study articulate the research gap? Does study make a significant
    contribution toward advancing knowledge in the tobacco control field? Does it answer
    new questions or introduce novel methods, measures, or tobacco control interventions? Is
    it aligned to the WHO FCTC and tobacco control local context requirements? Does the
    study add to the existing body of research?
  • Policy relevance: Will results from the research have generalizable implications? How,
    if at all, will the “lessons learned” have relevance beyond the study? Will the study
    outcomes influence decisions in tobacco control?
  • Technical design: Do the methods appropriately answer the objectives and the questions
    outlined in the proposal? Is the proposed study feasible in one year?
  • Project viability: Are there any other logistical or political obstacles that might threaten
    the completion of the study, for example, government authorization or Human Subjects
    review, civil strife, social cultural sensitivity?
  • Value of research: Is the cost of the study commensurate with the value of expected
    contributions to policy? Are the planned activities justified and coherent?
  • Ethics: Reviewers will consider whether there are any risks of harm to research
    participants, what the proposed risk mitigation strategies are, and how the possible
    benefits of the research compare to the possible harms.

Application Process

Apply HERE not later than 30th June 2024, by 5pm EAT. Applicants are required to provide a
recommendation/support letter from their supervisors or heads of department.

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