This year, the Nottingham Trent University – Makerere University partnership celebrated over 10 years of collaboration in research, bi-directional learning, knowledge exchange, and community service. The partnership between the UK based Nottingham Trent University (NTU) and Uganda based Makerere University (Mak) won its first grant of 5,000 Pounds from the Tropical Health and Education Trust (THET) in 2012.
This led to the signing of the first Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the School of Social Sciences and Makerere University School of Public Health. Ten years later, the MOU has been extended to cover all university colleges and schools within the two universities.
The partnership has won over 15 grants, including a recent one worth €716,004 from the British Council / European Union under the Erasmus+ International Credit Mobility (ICM) programme for mobility of over 140 students and staff between the two institutions (2020 – 2023). This grant has so far facilitated 70 undergraduate, masters and PhD students as well as faculty from both institutions to have exchange visits between the two universities. Furthermore, over 20 international conference presentations have been delivered by the partnership in the recent years.
The partnership, whose main focus has been on strengthening community health, has created social impact among communities in Wakiso district with over 750 Community Health Workers (CHWs) and 200 human and animal health practitioners trained on several topics including non - communicable diseases, antimicrobial stewardship, as well as pandemic and epidemic preparedness and response.
A dinner was organized at Golf Course hotel, Kampala to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the partnership. The visiting NTU delegation comprised of Dr. Mazeda Hossain (the Director of the NTU Eastern Africa Centre), Prof. Linda Gibson (the NTU partnership lead), Ms. Sally Squires-Bashford (a PhD student at NTU) and Mr. Jonathan Conway (the Coordinator of the NTU Eastern Africa Centre). At the dinner, some beneficiaries shared their stories of how the partnership has supported them. These included Mr. Henry Bugembe, the coordinator for CHWs in Wakiso district, Ms. Suzan Nakalawa, an undergraduate Erasmus+ International Credit Mobility programme beneficiary (2022), Ms. Grace Biyinzika Lubega, who received a scholarship to study an MA Public Health at NTU, Dr. Arthur Bagonza, a PhD Erasmus+ International Credit Mobility programme beneficiary (2020), Ms. Sally Squires-Bashford, a PhD student at NTU, and Dr. Rawlance Ndejjo who was nurtured by the partnership during the early years of his career.
The Dean MakSPH, Prof. Rhoda Wanyenze commended the partnership leads Dr. Musoke and Prof. Gibson for the great partnership work done. She congratulated them for the impact they have made for not only students and staff, but also the communities. In her closing remarks, she encouraged the early career researchers (ECRs) present at the event to allow the partnership leads to continue mentoring them, and further challenged these ECRs to mentor undergraduate students so as to inspire the next generation of public health professionals.
The NTU delegation also visited the partnership field office in Nakawuka, and a skilling centre in Kajjansi, Wakiso District which was founded by Mariam Nakirijja, a CHW following her visit to NTU in 2019 where she presented at the Oxford International Health Conference.
While at the skilling centre, the delegation was amazed with the hands-on skills training activities being conducted such as tailoring and hair dressing supported by Mariam.
Similarly, while at the field office, some of the CHWs expressed their appreciation to the partnership for all the support offered to them for many years.
While reflecting on the 10-year journey, Dr. Musoke and Prof. Gibson noted that achievements gained have been a result of perseverance, commitment and teamwork. They expressed their appreciation to the funders and partners who have supported the partnership work, the Dean, Heads of Departments and staff at MakSPH and NTU, community health workers, early career researchers, Wakiso District Local Government, and the Ministry of Health.
By Grace Biyinzika Lubega, Filimin Niyongabo, and Suzan Nakalawa