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School of Public Health
College of Health Sciences, Makerere University

The Department of Disease Control and Environmental Health

About the Department

The department provides a cornerstone to public health through multidisciplinary training, research, and community service that is focused on communicable and non-communicable human disease and prevention, including the chemical, physical, and biological agents in the environment, which influence human health. Faculty in the department are active in teaching, conducting cutting-edge research, and community service and their accomplishments are making a significant impact on the nations’ public health problems and disparities.

They are dedicated to excellence in teaching, scholarship and mentoring of students and are involved in active research in Environmental Health, Occupational Safety and Health, Disease prevention, control, and Health promotion. The Department actively pursues collaborative research activities with workplaces including industries, research institutions and district health

facilities to better understand the collective and continuous exposures to environmental and occupational stresses (biological, chemical, physical and psychological) that affect health at all stages of life.

Key Roles and Responsibilities

Teaching, research and community services in the following domains;

  1. Disease prevention and control
  2. Environmental Health
  3. Occupational Safety and Health
  4. Management and administration of Public Health in community.
  5. Health Promotion

Academic Programs

Bachelors in Environmental Health Sciences (BEHS)

The department hosts the only bachelors program-BEHS, at the MakSPH. This is a three year course which started in 2000, after realizing that there were very few environmental and industrial workers with specialization in primary preventive measures like water safety, sanitation, food hygiene, good housing etc. The programme trains professionals in environmental health with the attitude and scientific knowledge for managing all duties and procedures in the broad areas of health promotion.

Master in Environmental and Occupational Health

Given that environmental health risks have become the major causes of the disease burden, both communicable and non-communicable, this masters in environmental and occupational health comes in timely to produce experts in environmental and occupational health. This program is building on the BEHS, helping produce more specialised graduates in the area of environmental. The graduates will be equipped with knowledge and skills in handling environmental and occupational health challenges through research, environmental exposure assessments and monitoring.

Short course in Water, Hygiene and Sanitation (WASH)

This short course in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) targets practicing officers with limited training in WASH. The course was developed in response to the many people working in the WASH sector who lack specialized training and skills in that field.

The 8-weeks programme of study has participants spending 3 weeks (full-time) at the University studying while 4 weeks are spent at suitable workplaces/field sites. The final week of the course is spent at MakSPH for a presentation of project/field work, final examination, and certificate awarding ceremony.

Research projects in the department

Project

Summary

Strengthening antimicrobial stewardship in Wakiso district, Uganda

Makerere University School of Public Health in partnership with Nottingham Trent University (NTU), Makerere University Department of Pharmacy, Makerere University College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Biosecurity (COVAB), Buckinghamshire Health Care Trust, Entebbe Hospital, and the Ministry of Health are implementing a project with the aim of strengthening the Antimicrobial Stewardship (AMS) in Wakiso district with a focus on capacity building, stakeholder engagement and knowledge exchange

Erasmus+ mobility programme between Makerere University School of Public Health and Nottingham Trent University

This project is supporting the travel of students (undergraduate, masters and PhD) as well as faculty to spend between 1 week and 2 months at the partner university to take part in learning, teaching, research and training activities. Specifically, the activities undertaken as part of the exchange include short courses, workshops, seminars, conferences, proposal development, data analysis, manuscript writing, and other academic work. So far, there have been exchange visits for 13 students and faculty, and more are expected in the near future.

Enhancing the capacity
of Community Health Workers in the prevention and control of non- communicable diseases in Wakiso district, Uganda

This project aims at enhancing the capacity of community health workers (CHWs) to support their involvement in prevention and control of NCDs in the community.

Assessment of
Personal Exposures to Environmental Chemicals using Silicone Wristbands

People are exposed to a range of chemicals (at home, workplaces and general environment) associated with an increased risk of diseases including cancers. However, little is known on frequency and magnitude of personal exposures to these chemicals. Wrist bands are personal passive samplers that provide real world mixtures of chemicals which are quantifiable and can be directly integrated with bioassays for toxicity testing. In partnership with Oregon State University, we are implementing a pilot study to assess the type and level of personal exposures to chemicals among selected workers in Kampala city. Pilot data will guide future studies, policy and interventions. Project contact: Ms. Edwinah Atusingwize, eatusingwize@musph.ac.ug

The Peanut Project.

The immediate goal of our project is to investigate the effects of peanut snack on regulation of gut microbiome and microbial metabolisms in 6 – 9 year old boarding primary school children of both genders in Mukono district in Uganda. The long- term goal is to study specific roles of peanut snack in improving nutrition and health status in growing children. This project is a collaboration between the University of Georgia Athens and the Makerere University School of Public Health.

The Collaboration for Evidence-Based Healthcare and Public Health in Africa (CEBHA+), Research Task 4 (RT4) Makerere University, School of Public Health.

Uganda & Rwanda are conducting projects on, “Finding the evidence for improved implementation of road traffic injury prevention interventions.” The main objective of this project is to contribute to the reduction of road traffic injury-related deaths and ill-health by identifying implementation opportunities, providing tools and mechanisms for the collection and management of quality road traffic data for monitoring and evaluation of road safety interventions in Uganda and Rwanda. In close partnership with the Police and selected hospitals, RT4 Uganda collected and assessed the quality of currently available data and identified key policy and programmatic aspects in the process of design, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of existing interventions to reduce traffic injuries in Uganda

The CEBHA+ Project also supports 2 Ph.D. students Ms. Esther Bayiga and Mr. Jimmy Osuret whose research proposals contribute towards road safety promotion.

Understanding and Preventing Drowning in Uganda

In 2014, WHO released the first ever global report which pointed to the need for governments, research and policy communities to prioritize drowning prevention and have this integrated with other public health agendas.

With this background, the School of Public Health in partnership with the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, at Makerere University are carrying out a study aimed at estimating the burden of drowning in Uganda, and to understand the circumstances surrounding these drowning incidents. The national study is funded by a grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies that is managed by CDC Foundation.

Development of a behavioral intervention to foster active tuberculosis case finding among migrants in urban slums in Kampala- Uganda

Uganda is currently hosting unprecedented big numbers of migrants from the East African region. In this light, there is an urgent call for identification and management of TB cases for the countries in the region. One of the strategies recommended is optimization of diagnosis, treatment and prevention of TB in migrants. One promising strategy is ‘active TB case finding’ as recommended by WHO. Therefore, this study aims at developing an evidence based behavioral intervention package that would foster active TB case finding and retention in care among urban migrants. The study is being conducted in Kisenyi slum, the biggest slum in Kampala City- Uganda.

Using short message service reminders and mobile money incentives to enhance linkage to care of presumptive tuberculosis patients in Uganda: a randomised controlled trial (EDCTP senior fellowship grant)

Worldwide, national TB programs try to improve case detection rates and monitoring treatment outcomes, but little is known about the proportion of presumptive tuberculosis (TB) cases that never get tested for TB and the confirmed TB cases that never start treatment in endemic areas like Uganda, despite high prevalence and mortality rates. The aim of this study is to leverage SMS reminders and MM incentives in improving linkage to care of presumptive TB patients. The aim of the study is to increase the proportion of presumptive TB patients that complete diagnosis and pre-treatment TB cases that link to care and treatment using SMS reminders and Mobile Money (MM) incentives.

DOT Selfie: A Mobile Health Intervention with Transfer of Social Bundle Incentives to Increase Treatment Adherence in Tuberculosis Patients in Uganda

Non-adherence to treatment is a major obstacle to tuberculosis (TB) control: it reduces cure rates, prolongs infectiousness, and contributes to the emergence of multi-drug resistant strains of TB. The WHO recommends Directly Observed Therapy (DOT) whenever feasible, in order to foster good TB treatment adherence. The aim of this study is to evaluate the acceptability, feasibility, and preliminary efficacy of implementing of a VDOT (video function of a smartphone to record DOT) application in Uganda that has been evaluated in high- and medium- income countries. The long-term goal is to revolutionize patient monitoring, improve patient-provider communication, and promote self-management by utilizing mobile health tools that are contextualized to the sub-Saharan African setting.

TREAT Child Alcohol Use Disorder (C-AUD) Project

This project housed at Makerere University School of Public Health is investigating the level of alcohol disorders among children in Eastern Uganda and the factors associated with this disorder. With the findings, the project will suggest changes in the health system for screening and treatment of child alcohol use and disorders in Uganda.

The project is being implemented by the Makerere University School of Public Health in collaboration with Centre for International Health, University of Bergen and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. The Project is to support research work for two PhD students from Makerere University, one PhD candidate and one Postdoctoral candidate from University of Bergen.

SPICES Project

SPICES (Scaling-Up Packages of Interventions for Cardiovascular disease prevention in selected sites in Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa) is an implementation science project that is funded by the European Commission through Horizon 2020 research and innovation action. The SPICES consortium comprises of six universities of Makerere University, University of Antwerp, Nottingham Trent University, Manchester University, Brest University and Limpompo University. The project aim is to implement and evaluate a comprehensive CVD prevention program in five settings; a rural and semi-urban community in a low-income country (Uganda), middle income (South Africa, and vulnerable groups in three high-income countries (Belgium, France and the United Kingdom).

The Crane Survey

The Crane Survey is a collaborative activity between Makerere University’s School of Public Health (SPH), Ministry of Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is funded by the US Government’s President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief or PEPFAR. Crane Survey predominantly uses respondent-driven sampling to survey key populations and other purported high-risk groups.