The US Ambassador to Uganda, HE Deborah Malac, has said communities handle outbreaks better when they have locally trained personnel amongst them to manage the outbreak.

She told the audience about her experience in Liberia when the Ebola epidemic broke out and the country had no internal capacity to handle the outbreak. “The Liberians were so inspired when the Ugandans came in to help out with the outbreak.  I saw first-hand the purposes of investing in capacity. There is no substitute for people in that community being able to go out and help their community because they understand that community. The community is capable when they are trained,” she said.

H.E Deborah Malac, speaking at the graduation ceremony of 11 students in public health

The US Ambassador was speaking at a function where the Ministry of Health was graduating 11 students from the Public Health Fellowship Programme (PHFP). This programme is a partnership between Makerere University School of Public Health (MakSPH) and the Ministry of Health and it is funded by the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Her Excellency Malac also informed the audience that her country is committed to working with countries to help them develop the capacity. “We cannot commit 100% to what our partnership will look like but we take public health very seriously,” she said.

Fellows on the rigorous two-year fulltime programme are admitted on the basis of having a masters’ degree in a medical background. Dr. Innocent Nkonwa was among the graduands from the prestigious Public Health Fellowship Programme (PHFP). In a conversation during their graduation at Golden Tulip Hotel in Kampala, the doctor had only wonderful things to say about the fellowship.

Dr. Innocent Nkonwa at the graduation

 “I have gained skills in responding to public health emergencies and emerging outbreaks. I was part of the team that responded to the Marburg outbreak in Kween District. I have also been part of the team that has been responding to the sporadic cholera outbreaks in the country among other skills. I also learnt that some alerts to disease outbreaks come through rumours or the least expected sources like a non-medical person or through a religious leader. I have learnt that it is important to go and verify,” the Dr. Nkonwa, who also has a Masters in Obstetrics and Gynaecology and a Masters of Public Health Leadership.

Just like Dr. Nkonwa, all the other 10 graduands had only wonderful things to say about the programme. Dr. Susan Kizito who won the prestigious award of the Most Outstanding Fellow said joining this fellowship was the best career decision she has ever made. Dr. Kizito is a medical doctor who has a Masters in International Health from the Institute of Tropical Medicine and International Health in Berlin. She worked in HIV/TB care for five years in Nsambya Hospital before joining the two-year fellowship programme.

Ambassador Malac (second left) reads from a plaque that was awarded to Dr. Kizito (second right) who was voted as the most outstanding fellow by her colleagues

“I have been able to publish two scientific papers in influential papers and I have 7 in the pipeline. The programme pushes you to achieve and it is the best decision I have made in my professional life.”

Speaking at the function, Prof. Rhoda Wanyenze, the Dean of MakSPH said she was so proud of the programme because it continues the relationship that MakSPH has with CDC and Ministry of Health. More so, the fellowship has had tremendous achievements; in 3 years, 100 investigations have been carried out and 250 projects have been implemented.

Prof. Rhoda Wanyenze speaking at the function.

“We need to track all these findings so that we can get the due recognition that this program deserves,” Prof. Rhoda said. She thanked the stakeholders of the programme who include Uganda Virus Research Institute, AFENET (Africa Field Epidemiology Network), World Health Organisation and Ministry of Health.

PHFP staff pose with the guest at the graduation. Top row, third right, is the US Ambassador to Uganda, HE Deborah Malac. Next to her on the left is Prof. Rhoda Wanyenze the Dean of Makerere University School of Public Health.

We are also thankful that we have had very dedicated drivers. We have not had any accidents from all the projects done yet it’s a lot of work, the Dean said.  She said also appreciated the mentors n the host institutions. A graduate Fellow herself from the CDC Fellowship, Prof. Wanyenze  congratulated the gradunads and encouraged them to ‘keep committed, stay focused and serve with a difference.’

Representing the Ministry of Health at the graduation Dr. Patrick Tusiime, the Commissioner of Health Services (National Disease Control) at the Ministry of Health and the Co-Director of PHFP congratulated the graduands and noted that they have positively added to the numbe of experts in the country in the area of emergency responders.

Dr. Patrick Tusiime, second left top row, the Commissioner Health Services and the Program Co-Director of the Public Health Fellowship Program. He was posing with the dignitaries at the graduation and other mentors of the Fellows that attended the function.

The Executive Director of AFENET, Dr. Chima Ohuabunwo, was present at the function as well said that much as the Ministry of Health might not be able to retain all the trainees, they can be called upon to serve in the neighbouring countries or any other part of the continent as the need arises.

The Executive Director of AFENET, Dr. Ohuanbunwo speaking at the graduation

Dr. Yonas Tegen Woldemariam, the WHO Country Representative noted that Africa is having the most severe of outbreaks with an average of 250 outbreaks per year. He then told the graduands that Africa will be looking to their expertise in becoming more efficient and effective in responding to outbreaks. Encouraging them to not to stop at the investigations they did, he said, “Those conclusions are not just scientific. You have to look at their implication on policy and on saving lives.”

The highly-skilled graduands who spent two years at the fellowship did research in a number of emergency response situations like food poisoning, snake bites, mental health and meningitis among many other areas.

Graduands pose with the guests at the end of the function

The Centre for Tobacco Control in Africa (CTCA) in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) launched a mobile application yesterday. The application will monitor compliance and violation of existing bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship throughout the country. The launch was presided over by the WHO Representative of the Uganda Country Office, Dr Yonas Tegegn Woldermariam.


In his remarks, Dr Woldermariam revealed that the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) 2017 showed Tobacco Use was at about 8% among Ugandan adults, adding that risk factors associated with tobacco use were one of the biggest contributors to premature deaths, among Non-Communicable Diseases. He also revealed that about 2% of those affected were second – hand smokers. “The most logical way to reverse this tragedy is to enforce compliance to the strong existing laws in the country”, he concluded.

Research Assistants (in white T-shirts), Dr David Musoke standing next to Dr. Hafsa Lukwata (with yellow headscarf) of Ministry of Health, Dr. Yonas Tegegn Woldermariam (army-green coat), Dr. Jim Arinaitwe (dark blue suit) CTCA Manager, Dr. Kerstin Schotte of WHO, Shital Thakkar, Marie Clem Carlos (black coat, orange blouse), and Kellen Nyamurungi (floral dress) at the mobile application launch.

Dr David Musoke who represented the Dean of the School of Public Health of Makerere University, commended CTCA for the work they were engaged in, noting that it was one of “the flagship projects” of the School of Public Health performing exceptionally well. “Your work informs our teaching and research, and policy and practice” he added. Dr Musoke further applauded WHO for their continued partnership with Makerere University School of Public Health (MakSPH).

In a passionate plea to the research assistants present, Dr David Musoke (pictured above) reminded them of MakSPH’s commitment to quality research. “We expect that of you so that the findings are good for CTCA, MakSPH, WHO and the global community”, he emphasized.

The Use of the anti – Tobacco application is a pilot study that is being conducted in only seven countries across the world, Uganda being the fifth to implement it, and one of two in Africa. Two types of data collection will be employed; the conventional method, and crowdsourcing – where anyone can download the application and then use it to send information. It takes less than a minute to use the application. The Project Principal Investigator is Kellen Nyamurungi, who is also the Technical Advisor, CTCA; WHO is funding the research

The mobile application called Tobacco Spotter, can be downloaded from either Google Play or Apple Store. It was developed by Shital Thakkar of DURE Technologies

On January 21st, 2019, the Dean of Makerere University School of Public Health (MakSPH), Prof. Rhoda Wanyenze met with a team from Cardiff Metropolitan University (Cardiff Met) in the UK. The team had Henry Dawson and Gayle Davis, who are lecturers of Environmental Health at Cardiff Met.

The two are here on a partnership between Cardiff Met and MakSPH, specifically, the Department of Disease Control and Environmental Health (DCEH), that has been going on since 2011. This partnership has seen the School supported through research, teaching and exchange programmes with faculty.

Gayle Davis signing in the visitor’s book in the Dean’s office. Looking on is Henry Dawson.

So far, the partnership has seen three members of staff from MakSPH going to the UK to participate in teaching and other field activities. In the same way, two members of faculty from Cardiff were here previously and taught students of MakSPH on the Bachelors’ programme in Environmental Health, Dr. David Musoke the MakSPH Partnership Lead said. The two current visitors will be at MakSPH for a week teaching and undertaking several field activities including with the undergraduate students. This partnership is currently supported by a mobility grant under the Erasmus Plus Scheme that is funded by the European Union.

Speaking at the meeting, Prof. Wanyenze informed the guests about the School’s strengths and areas where support is needed.

“We have several colleagues doing research on injuries and road traffic accidents. Currently, there is another study on drowning. We also have several teams working on maternal, neonatal and child health. Incidentally, there seems to be a lot of poisoning by young people. Acid attacks also seem to be growing.”

Prof. Rhoda Wanyenze, the Dean of MakSPH giving the visiting Cardiff Metropolitan University Team an overview of the university

Prof. Wanyenze made it clear that given all these public health challenges, the School was not doing enough to address them in terms of research due to lack of funding. Some of these areas include infectious diseases like hepatitis and Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs).

She also mentioned several Masters programmes that will be starting at MakSPH including that of Environmental and Occupational Health.

Dr. Esther Buregyeya, the Chair of DCEH made an appeal to the visiting team to help the department build its capacity. If there are opportunities for training to be accommodated in this partnership or if there are opportunities for PhDs and short courses, we would be glad to benefit, she said.

Dr. Esther Buregyeya (right) Chair of Department of Disease Control and Environmental Health speaking during the meeting. Looking on is Ruth Mubeezi, a beneficiary of the MakSPH-Cardiff Met partnership.

“If there are opportunities, we could arrange and be trained. We would love to have PhDs because that way, we would be able to do more research in those areas. We have pollution problems, we have emerging infectious diseases, and there is a lot more that we can do,” Dr. Buregyeya said.

The meeting ended with the Dean and the Chair of DCEH receiving presents from the visiting team. Participants then took a group photo outside the MakSPH building in Mulago.

Left to right: Dr. Esther Buregyeya, the Departmental Chair of Disease Control and Environmental Health at MakSPH; Gayle Davis and Henry Dawson, both lecturers of Environmental Health at Cardiff Metropolitan University in the UK, the Dean of MakSPH, Prof. Rhoda Wanyenze; Ruth Mubeezi, an Assistant Lecturer at MakSPH; Rawlance Ndejjo, a Research Associate at MakSPH and Dr. David Musoke, a Lecturer at MakSPH and the Partnership Lead.

Prof. Wanyenze added that the School has several collaborations in the region which is a good entry point for partners who are interested in doing regional projects. The School also has a strong financial system and is the only School in the University with a semi-autonomous financial management unit, which could as well mean that it can be trusted, the Dean informed the meeting.

Beneficiaries speak up

Rawlance Ndejjo, a Research Associate with MakSPH is one of the staff that has benefitted from this partnership. He shared his experience during the meeting.

Rawlance Ndejjo (right) a Research Associate at Makerere University School of Public Health shares a light moment with the visiting faculty from Cardiff Metropolitan University. Ndejjo has previously benefitted from the exchange programme with the University under the Erasmus Plus Scheme that is funded by European Union.

“It was nice going out there and sharing experiences. I participated in teaching modules like housing, food safety and data management within our context,” Ndejjo said.     

Ruth Mubeezi, an Assistant Lecturer at MakSPH has also been privileged to benefit from the partnership and exchange programme. She said at the meeting; “I was impressed by the support given to students at Cardiff Met. The way they give students opportunities to learn was very interesting. Their libraries also have spaces where they can learn.”

Ndejjo and Mubeezi were especially impressed by the Cardiff’s system of using hypothetical case studies in teaching and Mubeezi said, “We are going to borrow some of those ideas.”

Responding to this style of teaching, Davis said that Cardiff does a lot of simulations during teaching.

“Most of what we teach is scenario-based. We facilitate students to have as many real-life experiences as possible. For example, if we are teaching about housing standards, we will take the students to inspect buildings. The teaching is a lot more practical and participatory than traditional teaching,” she added.

Cardiff Met University also maintains an excellent relationship with the students who graduated and left so that they can be able to share any new experiences they encounter in the field with them, noted Davis

 

 

Makerere University School of Public Health in collaboration with Vector Control Division - Ministry of Health Uganda (VCD) and the University of Cambridge is running a two-year clinical trial; Impact of increased praziquantel frequency on childhood fibrosis in persistent morbidity hotspots (FibroScHot). FibroScHot is funded by the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trial Partnership (EDCTP) and is co-sponsored by Cambridge University Hospital Trust, University of Cambridge and VCD.

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