Researchers at the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) have been urged to be mindful of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in their bid to find solutions to the world’s biomedical challenges. Delivering the keynote address under the theme “Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs) for Uganda” during the MUII Plus Annual General Meeting (AGM) held in February at the Entebbe based UVRI campus, Dr. Yonas Tegegn Woldemariam, the World Health Organisation (WHO) Representative and Head applauded the researchers for their role in research which he said directly impacted policy formulation. “The WHO and respective country governments depend on data from research to inform policy. The role of researchers in attaining the SGDs can therefore not be underestimated, because evidence based research enables countries make evidence based policies.” “You as researchers are therefore at the forefront of contributing towards the health-based SDGs through provision of timely and accurate data,” he said.
He noted that the critical success factors for achieving SGDs in Uganda included commitment to working together and unity of purpose and proper coordination at various levels. He emphasized the role of frontline health systems for example the Village Health Teams (VHTs) in accelerating the achievement of the SDGs and called for their sustainable financing.
“As a country, Uganda needs to ensure sustainable financing and focus on frontline health systems such as Village Health Teams, community and civil society engagement. There is need to address the determinants of health, Research & Development, promote innovation and access, to quality data for action and digital health and ensure innovative programming in fragile and vulnerable areas and increase disease outbreak responses,” he added.
Speaking at a Public Symposium following the keynote address, Dr. Tom Kariuki, the Director, Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa (AESA), a funding platform and agenda setting initiative that funds MUII Plus through their Developing Excellence in Leadership, Training and Science (DELTAS) Africa initiative called on researchers to work together towards a well-resourced native health research system to maximise impact and ensure more Africans live better, healthier and more productive lives.
Other panellists included Dr. Dan Murokora (Reproductive Health Advisor – Ministry of Health), Prof. Damalie Nakanjako (Deputy Dean – School of Medicine at Makerere University College of Health Science) and Prof. Karl Hoffman (Professor of Parasitology at Aberystwyth University).
Speaking on behalf of the Ministry of Health, Dr. Charles Olaro, (Director Health Services Clinical and Community) commended UVRI and MUII Plus for their role in building local research capacity. He urged the participants to work together and ensure that partnerships are built in order to achieve more.
The AGM brought together MUII Plus stakeholders including fellows, faculty as well as steering committee and advisory board members to review activities, network as well as plan for the future of the Programme.
The two-day program comprised of plenary sessions where guest speakers gave talks on topical issues in the areas of infection and immunity research. These were Emerging and re-emerging viruses in Uganda; addressing the threat with new tools by Emma Thomson (Glasgow University), Burkitt Lymphoma: the starry sky tumour by Suzanne Turner (Cambridge University) and Maternal and Neonatal Health by Annettee Nakimuli (Group Leader MUII-Plus). The breakout sessions covered on Tuberculosis, HIV, Parasites, Vaccines & viruses, Antimicrobial resistance & microbiology and Maternal, neonatal and reproductive health provided MUII fellows with an opportunity to present and discuss their work with their supervisors, mentors and peers.
Poster and Photo Competition
To promote engagement and sharing of their work, fellows were invited to prepare posters for presentation and photos of their work for a competition. The top three in each category received a cash prize. Table below shows the winners and the cash prizes received
Poster Winners Picture Winners
First Prize – 500,000
Lillian Namuli – ‘Intensive versus standard mass anthelminthic treatment lessens helminth – induced immune dampening in Ugandan fishing village’
Martin Mayanja – ‘Showed one of the trainees an Aedes aegypti mosquito a potential vector for a number of arboviruses including Zika, chikungunya and Dengue viruses’
|Second Prize – 250,000||Sheila Nabweyambu – ‘Genetic and Angiogenic factor profiles associated with pre-eclampsia among pregnant women in Mulago Hospital – Uganda’||Gertrude Namale – ‘The stroke study on risk factors and its outcomes in Uganda – A unit social scientist interacting with a caregiver of a stroke patient at St. Francis Hospital Nsambya’|
|Third Prize – 150,000||a) Beatrice Nassanga – ‘T cell responses in Ugandan mothers, sensitized or not sensitized to environmental mycobacteria and ‘Mycobacteria tuberculosis’
b) Alex Kayongo – ‘Long term non – progressor – derived CD4+ T cell in vitro suspectability to HIV – 1 infection’
|Fiona Cresswell – ‘A public engagement event where they did a dramatization about meningitis and provided some light relief with fire breathing’|