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School of Public Health
College of Health Sciences, Makerere University

Master of Public Health Disaster Management (MPHDM)

Courses Category

Disasters are common worldwide. Their etiologies include natural, human induced (technological) and a hybrid of factors. The Great Lakes region of Africa, including Uganda, are prone to both human induced disasters, such as conflicts and warfare leading to massive population displacements of both refugees and internally displaced persons and natural disasters including climate change, droughts, famine, floods, landslide, disease outbreaks, as well as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. 

Despite the high incidence of a variety of disasters, the capacity to minimize risks and effectively respond to, manage and mitigate the effects of disasters remains limited in Uganda and several low-income countries. Response to and management of disasters has commonly been the domain of international humanitarian agencies including the United Nations (UN) and international non-governmental organizations (INGOs), with limited involvement of local institutions including academic institutions in Africa and several low-income countries.

Disasters are commonly managed by untrained personnel meaning that  there is a gap in mounting effective response by trained professionals both during and after the incidents.

To counter the above challenges, the School of Public Health has been running a 2-week short course called Public Health in Complex Emergencies (PHCE). PHCE is an international course attended by participants from the UN agencies, NGOs, Ministries of Health and districts affected by emergencies.  As a result of the success of the PHCE programme, the need for more extensive training in disaster management was expressed and the World Health Organisation Africa Region (WHO AFRO) set up a working team to develop training programmes toward capacity building for effective public health emergency response and risk reduction in Anglophone and Francophone countries in Africa  hence giving birth to Master of Public Health Disaster Management (MDM)

The MDM programme is 78 weeks (22 months) in duration and consists of four semesters and one recess term.  Each semester is 17 weeks, of which 15 weeks are used for teaching and two weeks for examinations.  The recess term is 10 weeks.

The programme is hosted by the MakSPH, coordinated by the Department of Community Health and Behavioural Sciences, MakSPH. It uses existing facilities such as lecture rooms, resource centre, computer laboratory and other facilities in collaboration with other Makerere University Departments. In addition, the school now has two annexes (Kololo and Kasangati) with each providing additional lecture and office spaces.

MDM  is open to Ugandans and non-Ugandans who fulfill the admission requirements. The requirements described below are only the minimum academic conditions for admission and only make one eligible. A candidate is eligible for admission if s/he satisfies any of the following: 

  1. A bachelor’s degree in health sciences, e.g. human medicine or nursing, from a recognised institution 
  2. A degree in biological sciences from a recognised institution, e.g. food science and technology, human nutrition and environmental health. .
  3. A degree in arts or social sciences from a recognised institution, e.g. community psychology, SWASA, and at least a credit in mathematics at the Ordinary level of education.
  4. Field experience is an added advantage
  5. Shortlisted candidates will be interviewed prior to selection.

The programme is run on a multidisciplinary basis, using specialists from within and outside of the University. Makerere University School of Public Health (MakSPH) has over 50 established staff and more than 50 Research Fellows and Research Associates, who participate in teaching of academic courses.  It also utilises other experts in the relevant fields from the other Schools in the College of Health Sciences, such as the School of Medicine, School of Biomedical Sciences and School of Health Sciences. Other collaborating universities will be invited in the implementation of the programme. Suitable training sites and supervisors including from UN agencies, NGOs and community-based organisations (CBOs) supervise and guide the students during their field attachments.

Upon completion, personnel trained through this programme  are expected to have the skills to work as managers of disaster/emergency programmes within Ministries of Health, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees, UN and NGOs at national and sub-national levels and are qualified to become emergency health researchers in research institutions and lecturers in Universities. 

Career and professional growth opportunities include continuation of studies into PhD programmes,   specialisation in specific emergency health management and disaster risk reduction.

To apply, email: or contact 0414543872

N.B: you can also acesss full MDM  curriculum at