Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Makerere University School of Public Health (MakSPH) is set to celebrate 25 years of training of public health specialists and research.
The celebrations scheduled for this week according Dr Elizabeth Ekirapa Kiracho, the head of the school’s department of Health Policy Planning and Management will include conferences with specialized panels, community outreaches among others.
In October 1994, Makerere commenced it’s Master of Public Health (MPH) programme to address public health challenges that included high burden of preventable and communicable diseases, sexual reproductive, maternal and child health challenges, infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, Ebola, Marburg, and avian flu among others.
Makerere has so far graduated a total of 628 public health specialists where 85% of them are currently practicing in Uganda and 15% outside.
Dr Ekirapa argues that public health training by Makerere has been able to provide competencies and management skills for over 80% of the current and retired District Health Officers (DHOs) in the Country.
“It is important to note that DHOs have the responsibility of overseeing the health of district populations, expertise which they gather from the public health training they acquire during public health training,” Dr Ekirapa said.
Adding that the Master of Public Health (MPH) programme has trained professionals that are responsible for designing public health policy at national and international levels.
“Some of these professionals go on to be part of emergency response teams that combat epidemics like Ebola. In the recent Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the Emergency Team that led the response to the epidemic was led by Ugandans many having been skilled at the University,” she contends.
However, despite the progress, Uganda’s public health system is still facing challenges especially of emerging diseases such as non-communicable diseases, mainly of lifestyle such as hypertension, diabetes as well as mental health problems and the negative consequences of climate change that pose public health concerns.
Deputy Dean of Makerere School of Public Health, Associate Professor Frederick Edward Makumbi, a specialist in Epidemiology and Biostatistics says the celebrations will help the school to enhance its teaching, learning and research.
Makumbi, says that the school will also focus on neglected tropical diseases such as Bilharzia and the persistent infectious diseases such as Ebola.
Professor Makumbi says Ugandans should expect more research in maternal and mortality and sexual reproductive health, especially with the growing population.
Professor Rhoda Wanyenze, the Dean of the School of Public Health says the rapid urbanization, global warming, environmental degradation, pollution, conflicts and displacements of people continue to showcase emerging and remerging public health concerns.
She says these ought to be handled in the next 25 years of the school through enhanced research, well-aligned academic programs among others.