Swedish, Ugandan universities collaborate

Vice Chancellor of Makerere University Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe (right) together with the President of Karolinska Institute (KI) Prof. Ole Petter Ottersen

On June 8 a delegation from Uganda’s Makerere University (MU) led by the Vice Chancellor Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe together with a team from Karolinska Institute (KI) Sweden led by its President Prof. Ole Petter Ottersen concluded discussions on further areas of collaboration.

During their meeting at KI, the delegates agreed to jointly fundraise for the establishment of a Centre of Excellence in Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs).

They also underscored the need to develop capacity in managing the growing incidences of NCDs, particularly stroke, breast cancer and others. 

Building on the collaborative history and mutual commitments between KI and Makerere University College of Health Sciences (MakCHS), opportunities are being explored to address common research interests, such as different aspects of Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs).

The global economic burden of NCDs is large. In almost all countries, development of health systems that are responsive to the challenge of prevention and treatment of NCDs is a priority.

NCDs consist of a vast group of conditions, but in terms of premature mortality emphasis has been on cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases. The challenge is truly global. The generation of knowledge is global, and research results a global public good. Strategic alliances are essential. 

Makerere University and Karolinska Institute officials during the discussions

In August 2016 a delegation from KI led by Professor Maria Masucci, Deputy Vice-Chancellor for International Affairs, visited Makerere University and had successful discussion on how KI and Makerere University can work together and be partners regarding NCD research.

Since then, project leaders have been identified at both universities. Project proposals have been submitted for funding and the ethical permit has been processed and approved for the pilot study ”Exploring the feasibility of a population cohort to facilitate long-term studies on risk factors for cardiovascular disease in Uganda”. 

Professor Anders Gustafsson, Dean of Research, Associate Professor Bruna Gigante and Ms Monika Berge, International Co-ordinator had successful meetings at Makerere University in February 2018, and participated in the NCD conference organised by Makerere University.

The feasibility study – Advances in prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases in Uganda, is planned to start at the The Iganga-Mayuge Demographic Surveillance Site in June 2018.

During their discussions on further collaboration held on 8th June 2018, the team from Makerere University and KI also agreed to conduct joint research and education programs.

from L-R: Vice Chancellor of Makerere University Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, the of Principal College of Health Sciences Prof. Charles Ibingira, a delegate from Karolinska Institute and Prof. Buyinza Mukadasi, Director of Research and Graduate Training

The Makerere University delegation, comprising Prof. Charles Ibingira, Principal College of Health Sciences and Prof. Buyinza Mukadasi, Director of Research and Graduate Training also held discussions with various departments at KI including the departments of Dentistry and Comparative Medicine.

The collaboration between KI and Makerere University (MU) is the most comprehensive international collaboration at KI, from education to research activities.

The first Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) confirming the partnership, and the initiation of the double degree program, was signed in 2003. In 2011 the two universities entered into a new Memorandum of Understanding for their mutual development. It was signed and endorsed during a formal ceremony at Makerere University in Kampala. 

The MOU was in 2016 extended for a new five-year period. An implementation agreement was signed on 11 February 2015, regarding a Joint Doctoral Training towards degree of Doctor of Philosophy PhD, under which a substantial number of students affiliated to Makerere University College of Health Sciences have completed a double PhD degree at KI and Makerere University in the past years.

As of 2018, there have been 37 PhD thesis defended as a result of the collaboration. Over 200 students and teachers from KI and Makerere University have taken part in exchange studies on undergraduate and advanced level, financed by the Swedish Linnaeus-Palme program.

Mak Public Relations Office 

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