The COVID-19 pandemic brought about several disruptions in learning, showing need for more exploration in the virtual teaching and learning environment. Fortunately, because of Makerere University School of Public Health (MakSPH)-Nottingham Trent University (NTU) partnership, several learning opportunities merged for students at both universities during the UK summer. These opportunities included the NTU Global Summer School, the Erasmus + virtual mobility programme and the Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) on Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR). All these events were virtual and involved students from both universities, learning together and interacting with lecturers. I am thankful to have participated in all these programs and I can honestly say that I learned so much in a short space of time.
First off was the NTU Global Summer School a one-week long (5th – 9th July, 2021) programme developed by world class academics which offered short courses such as Sociology of Global Health and Development, Transformational Leader, and the Sustainable Development Goals. These courses were integrated with online networking opportunities, attracting students across the world to enable them gain intellectual growth, intercultural confidence, and professional development. I studied the Sociology of Global Health and Development course which was tutored by Dr. Linda Gibson from School of Social Sciences, Nottingham Trent University, Dr. Marzell Gray from the University of Minnesota, USA, Dr. David Musoke from MakSPH, and Dr. Natewinde Sawadogo from Thomas Sankara University, Burkina Faso. This course helped me explore and learn the traditional assumptions around global health and development arenas, as well as concepts of reverse knowledge innovation and COIL as methods of knowledge production needed to influence global health and development practice. At the end of the course, we were tasked to design posters about solving a global health issue and I am glad that my group presented the best poster about global COVID-19 vaccination.
The winning poster presented at the NTU Global Summer School in the Sociology of Global Health and Development course designed by MakSPH students and other international students.
Next was the Erasmus + Virtual Exchange Programme, five days long (12th - 16th July, 2021) virtual learning programme about public health in five countries located in Southern and Eastern Africa. This was done through zoom meetings, where we engaged with students from NTU through interactive talks, discussions, quizzes and reflections at the end of each session. The panelists showcased African based solutions that have proven effective in addressing specific public health challenges in each country. Some of the solutions presented were the use of traditional medicine in Tanzania, home based patient care by the Baphumelele centre in South Africa, the contribution of community health workers in Uganda’s health system and Non-Governmental Organizations’ involvement in the Zimbabwean health sector. The overall experience was amazing and insightful, and increased my awareness of the diversity of history and culture among the countries discussed. The sessions also enabled me appreciate African based solutions in public health, and the application of public health academic knowledge in different global contexts.
A screenshot of a session about NGO involvement in the Zimbabwean national health care system presented by Dr. Farai Charasika during the Erasmus + virtual exchange programme.
Lastly was the Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) project on Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) in Uganda and the UK. This was a six weeks long program that involved two students from MakSPH, myself and Nabbanja Carol Esther, and two students from NTU - Shaz Rebelo Ebrahimi and Allysia Funge. We were given weekly tasks in line with AMR in both countries and we would present our findings to a team of lecturers every Monday morning. From MakSPH our supervisors were Dr. David Musoke and Mr. Emmanuel Balinda while from NTU, the supervisors were Dr. Jody Winter, Principal lecturer in Microbiology and Dr. Gareth McVicker, Senior lecturer in Microbiology. We created posters on AMR, antimicrobial stewardship, World Antimicrobial Awareness Week and One Health. In addition to the posters, we also created booklets comparing antibiotic usage in animals and humans between Uganda and the UK. I got to learn a lot about how antibiotic usage practices in Uganda are viewed by the UK which was positive and negative in some aspects making me appreciate the different interventions done in each country to tackle AMR. The COIL programme enabled us to develop greater competence and confidence in navigating different online learning platforms such as Microsoft Teams, Google Docs and Canva. In addition to the knowledge gained, we also developed key soft skills such as empathy, creative thinking, communication, presentation skills as well as interpersonal and intercultural competencies.
The six weeks flew by so fast, and I am now a completely different student with more knowledge about global and public health. The skills and knowledge I obtained are very beneficial to me and my future public health career aspirations. I am deeply thankful to the MakSPH-NTU partnership for creating for us these learning opportunities.
A poster about AMR designed by Nakalawa Suzan and Nabbanja Carol Esther from MakSPH and Shaz Rebelo Ebrahimi and Allysia Funge from NTU during the COIL project.
By Nakalawa Suzan, Bachelor of Environmental Health Science Year III, Makerere University School of Public Health