Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Makerere University School of Public Health (MakSPH) have unveiled a fundraising drive to construct an eight-storied facility worth 30 billion shillings.
This is in an effort to strengthen its scientific research, teaching and learning for the growing student population, currently at more than 800, with 85% as graduate students.
Professor Rhoda Wanyenze, the Dean of the School said on Friday that although raising $8.1million in donations is not an easy task, the school will try to raise the funds.
“The numbers of students and numbers of staff have grown more than 10 folds over the last 25 years. So currently, we are in the process of fundraising to put up a bigger structure of what we hope will be our new home and we are about to do groundbreaking hopefully within less than a month,” Professor Wanyenze said.
She adds that; “We don’t have all the money and we are still fundraising but we have decided to phase it out and start with at least three floors so that we can immediately expand the space that we have.”
The proposed space and infrastructural expansion according to Wanyenze will be constructed at a yet to be identified place at Makerere University-Main Campus.
The facility will specifically cater for high-tech infrastructure fitted for demonstration and innovation laboratories, environmental health, epidemic, disaster and field epidemiology, ICT and Data Laboratories.
It will also have teaching and seminar auditoria that will provide space for teaching and dissemination of innovations with stakeholders within Uganda and the region, dedicated space for research and service centres and units as well as rooms for research fellows, doctoral and postdoctoral students.
“The priority areas that we are focusing on in expanding space is our teaching space, and also having better laboratory infrastructure so that we can be able to do more research and surveillance on diseases and exposures that are putting our health at risk, including environmental health exposures that we are currently doing but not to the extent that we would like to do,” Professor Wanyenze.
Some of the current public health concerns the school is handling include refugee crises due to natural disasters and armed conflicts, constrained health systems, epidemics and pandemics of emerging and re-emerging pathogens, environmental degradation, climate change, urbanization, rapid population growth and internal displacements of people.
Wanyenze says that although 6 billion shillings has so far been raised, they need about 10.8 Billion Shillings for first phase.
Associate Professor Frederick Edward Makumbi, the Deputy Dean says despite the growing enrolments, every year many students are turned away due to limited infrastructure to accommodate them.
The School of Public Health boasts of a high-level scientific out-puts including over 200 peer-reviewed research publications annually. It also enjoys grant awards including several multi-country grants.
The big donors include the Rockefeller Foundation, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the Italian government and the World Health Organisation (WHO).