World Health Organization (WHO) and Makerere School of Public Health plan to advance the health research agenda in Uganda

The World Health Organization and Makerere School of Public Health (MakSPH) are engaged in discussions on how MakSPH may qualify as a WHO Collaborating Centre (WHOCC) in Uganda. This came up during the meeting to review the performance of the five-year memorandum of understanding between the two institutions on planning and implementing joint research projects in priority public health areas in the country.

In 2019, WHO and MakSPH signed a memorandum of understanding to implement joint research projects in key areas including, communicable and non-communicable diseases (NCDs), and health system strengthening, among others. Through this agreement, they committed to sharing information, support training, and research programs, and strengthening networking opportunities between themselves.

The collaboration has generated a lot of data which complements the support to the Ministry of Health and the global health arena.

Speaking at the review committee, Dr Yonas Tegegn Woldemariam, the WHO Representative to Uganda emphasized the need to move the engagement to a sustainable phase. “After five years of successful partnership, we should start working towards making MakSPH a WHO collaborating Centre. This will ensure sustainability, including unlocking opportunities for MakSPH and support to global health,” he said.

Of the 829 WHOCCs globally, only 27 (3.2%) are in the African region (2019). WHOCCs are institutions that work with WHO in disciplines such as occupational health, food safety, and communicable disease prevention. Designated by the WHO Director-General, they partner with WHO to perform research, provide training, or offer other services in furthering the health agenda.

Appreciating WHO’s trust in the MakSPH capacities to conduct research on Health, Prof Rhoda Wanyenze, the Dean of MakSPH looked forward to maintaining the existing partnership and developing timely work plans to guide future activities. “We hope to use these operational research findings to inform policy and decision-making for advanced public health discourse around the world,” she added.

Over the past five years, WHO and MakSPH have successfully collaborated in implementing forty-six public health projects that produced strategic information and policy outputs for informed decision-making. Some of the technical products developed include the 2023 Uganda Non-Communicable Diseases Risk Factors STEPS Survey to establish the prevalence of NCDs in Uganda; the Expanded Programme on Immunization Assessment, and the development of the National Immunization Strategy 2022-2026 to guide interventions on scaling up vaccination coverage in the country.

Other products include the Midterm review of the five-year National Pharmaceutical Services Strategic Plan 2021-2025, the KOICA Project baseline assessment and mid-term project evaluation, the Nutrition quality of services delivery in Rwenzori and West Nile region, and the Measles-Rubella coverage survey.

MakSPH is one of the four Schools under the Makerere University College of Health Sciences, a constituent College of Makerere University. The school conducts research and provides consultation services to the Government of Uganda and various national and international health organizations as well as bilateral and multilateral agencies involved in health.

The technical collaboration between WHO and MakSPH is expected to contribute to the shared goals of promoting the wide availability of safe, effective, and affordable research products, capacity building, and community service to the public.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of World Health Organization (WHO).

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