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Infrastructure Expansion for MakSPH, Vital for Uganda’s Public Health System – Prof. David Peters

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Kampala— Professor David Peters, Dean of the Faculty of Health at York University, Canada, has hailed Makerere University School of Public Health (MakSPH) as a global leader and a cornerstone of Uganda’s public health system. He emphasized the school’s vital role during the launch of its new state-of-the-art auditorium on March 15, 2024, part of its ambitious expansion plans to bolster Public Health capacity, training, research, and service across Africa.

Drawing from extensive experience in global health systems, Professor Peters emphasized the critical role of Makerere University in driving forward public health initiatives in the region.

The ambitious MakSPH new home building construction broke ground on 28th February, 2020. The project that seeks to address the increasing demand for public health education and research, with an estimated cost of $10 million USD.

While making a case for the building, the Netherlands Ambassador to Uganda then, Henk Jan Bakker, announced the Dutch contribution to a tune of $420,000 through the Hague based Dutch organisation for internationalisation in education Nuffic and through the SET-SRHR project at Makerere University. This contribution was channeled to towards the construction of a state-of-the-art Auditorium, which is part of building design.  Infrastructure forms the foundation of a healthy community and indeed as noted by Ambassador Henk, “Public Health is not only Uganda’s concern but also a global epidemic thus worth investing in.”

“I want to say how grateful I am to have been able to work with colleagues at Makerere University for now over two decades,” said Professor Peters.

Professor David Peters, YorkU Health photo
Professor David Peters, YorkU Health photo

Adding that; “The School of Public Health is responsible for educating and training critically needed public health workers for conducting critical science-based research that really addresses the origins of public health problems as well as for the prevention and intervention for diseases and disabilities and because it strengthens the practice of public health through knowledge translation.”

Professor Peters highlights the School of Public Health’s critical role in addressing historical and current public health challenges, including population growth, urbanization, inequity, justice, commercial influence, climate effects, and technological changes.

“And this is huge cost to the population, whether it be a maternal child, chronic diseases or aging, but also on epidemics and the costs, literally the catastrophic costs of health spending,” he said.

For Prof. Peter, while ideas on medicine and disease have really spread across countries and regions for millennia, efforts at public health and global level are really relatively recent from the last few centuries.

In the 19th century, historical concerns revolved around epidemics, famine, and conflict, closely linked to trade and environmental disruptions impacting industry and agriculture. This prompted nations to collaborate in safeguarding trade and preventing disease spread, laying the groundwork for international health regulations and the establishment of the World Health Organization (WHO).

Global public health education emerged from these efforts, rooted in scientific advancements like the germ theory and influenced by colonialism. Global health initiatives aimed to address health issues in other populations, with the Rockefeller Foundation playing a significant role in supporting and establishing schools of public health. The first, Johns Hopkins, founded in 1916, paved the way for numerous others worldwide, totaling around 35 new schools of public health, alongside several medical schools.

In modern global health, scientific advancements applied in resource-limited settings have saved countless lives. However, Professor Peters contends that this focus on biomedicine and technology, while successful in tackling specific health issues, often neglects broader local health system challenges.

Works on the main entrance for the main block for the new building taking shape with slab works on top. This section will act as a reception area and host a lobby. Main Camupus, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Works on the main entrance for the main block for the new building taking shape with slab works on top. This section will act as a reception area and host a lobby.

He further notes that vertical and horizontal approaches, though effective at times, fail to address the comprehensive needs of communities and systems. Additionally, the dominance of Western institutions in global health perpetuates a crisis-driven mentality, prioritizing quick wins over sustainable, community-centered strategies.

This approach, exemplified during crises like the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, sidelines long-term planning and neglects social determinants of health.

Dr. Peters, also the former senior public health specialist with the World Bank argues that while science drives progress, it comes at the expense of sustainability, coherence, and holistic health approaches, favoring curative care over prevention, a perception he believes needs to change.

Looking ahead in global public health education, Professor Peters acknowledges Makerere University‘s leadership in this field and its ongoing commitment. He highlights the university’s efforts to tailor institutional design and curriculum to local needs, particularly evident in the Master of Public Health program at Makerere School of Public Health, including distance learning options.

Emphasizing the need for innovative teaching methods, such as active learning and interdisciplinary approaches, Professor Peters stresses the importance of practical experience and IT integration.

Renowned for his collaborative efforts in advancing health policy and systems research, implementation science, and enhancing institutional capacity in health systems, Professor Peters advocates for professionalism grounded in competencies. He champions collaboration among health and education stakeholders, policymakers, communities, professional organizations, and academia to drive the evolution of global public health education.

“You need to be socially relevant, coherent and accountable. This does mean that physical infrastructure is needed. Our twinning operation between Makerere and Uganda. We need the buildings for teaching, community convening and group work, but also for research wet labs, specimen storage, computing, for use of big data and for the IT infrastructure,” said Prof. Peters.  

Learning between collaboration across institutions and linking global to local is really critical. He contends that Makerere School of Public Health is an essential to the public health system and a leader in this as well.

An overhead shot of works on the main entrance for the main block for the new building taking shape with slab works on top. This section will act as a reception area and host a lobby. Main Campus, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
An overhead shot of works on the main entrance for the main block for the new building taking shape with slab works on top. This section will act as a reception area and host a lobby.

Taking inspiration from a program at the College of Health Sciences, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which aimed to enhance all health schools at Johns Hopkins and Makerere University, Professor Peters emphasizes the broader scope of the initiative beyond mere technological advancements.

Dubbed the “grander challenge,” the project focused on institution-building, innovation, and human resource development for sustainable healthcare delivery. Makerere University seeks to be a transformative institution, fostering academic excellence and innovation while driving positive health outcomes in Uganda and the broader East Africa region.

“See the Makerere School of Public Health as transformational and being able to develop and generate knowledge, develop capabilities at individual levels as well as the leadership and organizational levels to model best practices and to support organizations and to develop partnerships to stimulate change,” he says.

He notes that there is a strong investment case for infrastructure at Makerere University. “It provides education training, it conducts research, it strengthens practice. If you see it as an essential part of infrastructure, here’s something that colleagues in North America put together around, this is around the National Academy of Sciences saying that ‘investment in schools of public health should be seen as analogous to government support for public goods like national defense and transportation infrastructure. It is that important.’”

According to Professor Peters, a global review found similar things how what they do in terms of education and research but also towards sustainable development goals and what it does globally. And that you need funding, human resources, agency, collaborations, and infrastructure in being able to do that.

“We need your time, your talent and your treasure to be able to contribute to Makerere School of Public Health. I want to thank you and to finally say that Makerere School of Public Health needs you, but we all need Makerere School of Public Health,” Professor David Peters.

An aerial view of the new MakSPH building taking shape with slab works on top. Main Campus, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
An aerial view of the new MakSPH building taking shape with slab works on top.

In 2021, the USAID ASHA Program awarded $1.1 million to create an augmented reality solution for Makerere University‘s new School of Public Health. Partnering with Johns Hopkins University under the leadership of Prof. David Peters, this funding aims to launch the Makerere University Centre of Excellence for Global Health.

Since 2000, Johns Hopkins has engaged in 48 collaborative research and training projects valued at over $6 million, spanning various fields such as doctoral training, medical education, laboratory training, and health systems development, including projects like the Asha Grant.

Caitlin Kennedy, a Professor of International Health, Social, and Behavioral Interventions at Johns Hopkins, expressed excitement about the university’s involvement in the building collaboration and eagerly anticipates exploring the new space and further nurturing partnerships cultivated over the years.

“I would like to send a sincere thanks to the Asha Grant and USAID for the amazing financial support. I hope others will see projects like this, and be inspired to provide more funding for public health infrastructure,” said Prof. Caitlin.

Caitlin Kennedy extends gratitude to everyone involved in bringing the building to shape, from the visionaries to the diligent planners and builders. She also thanks the faculty, staff, and students who will transform it into a vibrant learning environment.

“We at Johns Hopkins are really looking forward to continuing to do great public health collaborations with you in that space for many years to come. Thank you so much. Everyone and congratulations enjoy the space.”

Caitlin Kennedy, Professor of International Health, Social, and Behavioral Interventions at Johns Hopkins.
Caitlin Kennedy, Professor of International Health, Social, and Behavioral Interventions at Johns Hopkins.

Funds raised so far

Currently, we’ve raised a total of $4,804,314, but we still face a deficit of $5,195,686 for the construction. We’re grateful for contributions from various sources: MakSPH Staff Community ($46,043), MakSPH Departments ($144,972), Private Institutions/Companies ($52,528), Other Individuals ($131,949), and a generous donation of $675,000 from Makerere University. Additionally, MakSPH has committed $2,133,822 from internally generated funds, while the Rockefeller Foundation contributed $100,000 towards furnishing the auditorium. Your support is crucial in making a meaningful impact and driving transformation. Join us on this journey by contributing through https://sph.mak.ac.ug/givedonate.

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Digital Mobile Technologies to Study Tuberculosis: A Multi-Discplinary Program

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An aerial view of the Makerere University School of Public Health construction site on the Main Campus. To the Right is the Infectious Diseases Institute (IDI) and in the background are Dag Hammaskjold Hall (Green roof) and University Hall (Brown tiles).

A TRAINING PROGRAM SPONSORED BY FOGARTY INTERNATIONAL CENTER NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH, USA

INFORMATIONAL SESSION

Makerere University School of Public Health under D43 multi-disciplinary training program in digital mobile technologies to study tuberculosis that was recently funded by the NIH, through the University of Georgia (UGA) has an opportunity for funding of a masters’ research thesis. This is available to two (02) first year students of the Graduate programmes offered at Makerere University who have progressed to concept proposal development stage of their graduate program. These should be in good academic standing and have or are about to complete year 1 in Academic Year 2023/24. The support will start at the beginning of Academic Year 2024/25, i.e., end of August 2024 when the students are starting their year 2.  Students of geography and or digital health related courses are encouraged to apply, females too.  Students will be provided with secondary data to address the following, or similar, issues relating to tuberculosis (TB):

  1. Characterizing mobility patterns between urban and rural areas of Uganda using archived cell-phone (CDR) metadata
  2. Correlation between self-reported geolocated mobility patterns of TB patients and CDR data
  3. Differences in mobility patterns of TB patient’s pre-diagnosis and post-diagnosis
  4. Gender differences and relationship between IGRA and TST in a prospective cohort
  5. Patterns of change in serial IGRA test results by sex, age, HIV status
  6. Temporal changes in contact, mobility and geographic networks in TB converters and non-converters
  7. Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA) of social contacts and location patterns of movement by residents at risk for TB infection

Interested students are encouraged to attend an information session on Wednesday 17th July 2024 at MakSPH Annex Kololo where details about the research questions and funding opportunity will be provided to prospective applicants. Prospective applicants will be required to work with their mentors and training grant personnel to develop a 2-5-page concept that will be vetted for possible funding by training faculty of the training program.

Interested students should register their attendance with the training Coordinator, Mr Ivan Mutyaba by sending an email expressing interest in attending the session to imutyaba@musph.ac.ug by close of business on Thursday, 11th July 2024.

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METS Newsletter June 2024

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Makerere University School of Public Health (MakSPH) Dean, Prof Rhoda Wanyenze (Left), MoH Director General, Dr. Henry Mwebesa (Right) and other stakeholders join Dr. Amy Boore (2nd Right) to cut cake at her farewell event. Golden Tulip Hotel, 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 June 2024 Newsletter

  • Tracking Trends in HIV Outcomes: The Implementation of HIV Case-Based Surveillance
    • METS in partnership with the Ministry of Health (MoH) and various implementing partners, is spearheading the HIV Case-Based Surveillance (CBS) initiative across Uganda. By February 2024, CBS had been activated in 504 health facilities, with 349 sites (69%) actively transmitting data.
    • Trends of New HIV Diagnosis: An analysis trends over a 20-year period (2000-2022) revealed an increase in new HIV diagnosis over time, peaking in 2014 and 2018, before starting to decline. Diagnoses among females consistently exceeded those among males each year.
    • Case-Based Surveillance (CBS) complimenting other HIV surveillance programs: CBS provides valuable insights into infection patterns and highlights the need for targeted interventions, particularly among females. Next steps include continued scale up of CBS implementation to reach 80% of ART sites; improving data transmission from facility to the national repository to achieve at least 90% of the CBS activated sites; and strengthening data analytics and use of the data for program improvement.
  • Enhancing HIV Prevention Data Collection Through Bootcamps
    • METS in collaboration with HISP Uganda held a workshop in Mbarara to update the Health Management Information System (HMIS) tools for PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) in the HIV Prevention Tracker. The workshop focused on digitizing paper forms to efficiently collect data on key and priority populations.
  • Electronic Medical Records (EMR) upgrades in Eastern Uganda
    • The two-week activity kicked off with a week-long training session at Northeast Villa in Kumi focused on the enhancements of UgandaEMR+, including improved point-of-care (POC) functionalities and data visualization techniques.
    • The initiative successfully trained over 15 AIDS Information Centre (AIC) staff members, including M&E leads, IT personnel, data officers, and M&E managers, in the practical use of UgandaEMR+. Additionally, the two facilities, Ochero HCIII and Kapelebyong HCIV, were upgraded and their staff trained on the new system.
  • Tribute to Dr. Joshua Musinguzi (9/09/1963 – 7/06/2024)
    • Dr. Joshua Musinguzi’s efforts to minimize HIV incidence and death strategically focused on translating knowledge into policies and actions, which has helped Uganda manage the HIV epidemic.
  • Gallery
    • Bidding farewell to Dr. Amy Boore, Program Director, Division of Global Health Protection – CDC
    • Analysing the UgandaEMR Clinical Laboratory Module
    • UgandaEMR+ training for USAID SITES
    • Training for clinicians at Ruharo Mission Hospital on SARI and ILI
    • HIV Treatment Services (HTS) Implementers Meeting

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Job Opportunity at MakSBSREC: Assistant Administrative Officer

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The Davies Lecture Theatre (Right), School of Biomedical Sciences (Blue) and other buildings at the College of Health Sciences (CHS), Mulago Campus, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.

Makerere University is pleased to announce a vacancy for the position of Assistant Administrative Officer (REC Administrator) within the School of Biomedical Sciences Research Ethics Committee (MakSBSREC). This is an excellent opportunity for qualified individuals to contribute to the ethical oversight of research involving human participants.

Position Details:

  • Job Title: Assistant Administrative Officer (REC Administrator) – MakSBSREC
  • Reports to: Chairperson MakSBSREC
  • Engagement: Full-time
  • Duration: 1 Year, renewable upon satisfactory performance
  • Duty Station: Kampala

Qualifications, Desired Skills, and Experience:

  • Bachelor’s degree in Social Sciences and Humanities, Medicine and Surgery, Ethics and Human Rights, or any related field.
  • Master’s degree in Bioethics (an added advantage).
  • Up-to-date training in Human Subject Protection or Good Clinical Practice.
  • Proficiency in English (both spoken and written).
  • Prior experience in regulatory work in research studies or projects.
  • Excellent communication, organizational, and interpersonal skills.
  • Ability to work independently with minimal supervision and meet deadlines.

How to Apply:

Qualified and interested candidates are invited to submit a soft copy of their application documents and a motivation letter to deansbs.chs@mak.ac.ug with the subject line “Application for the position of Assistant Administrative Officer (REC Administrator)”. Address your application to the Dean, School of Biomedical Sciences.

Deadline for submission: July 2, 2024, by 5:00 pm Ugandan time.

Please provide a reliable 24-hour phone contact. Only short-listed candidates will be contacted for interviews.

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