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1.  A grander challenge: the case of how Makerere University College of Health Sciences (MakCHS) contributes to health outcomes in Africa 
Background
“Grand challenges” in global health have focused on discovery and development of technologies to save lives. The “grander challenge” involves building institutions, systems, capacity and demand to effectively deliver strategies to improve health. In 2008, Makerere University began a radical institutional change to bring together four schools under one College of Health Sciences. This paper’s objective is to demonstrate how its leadership in training, research, and services can improve health in Uganda and internationally, which lies at the core of the College’s vision.
Methods
A comprehensive needs assessment involved five task forces that identified MakCHS’s contribution to the Ugandan government health priorities. Data were collected through analysis of key documents; systematic review of MakCHS publications and grants; surveys of patients, students and faculty; and key informant interviews of the College’s major stakeholders. Four pilot projects were conducted to demonstrate how the College can translate research into policy and practice, extend integrated outreach community-based education and service, and work with communities and key stakeholders to address their priority health problems.
Results
MakCHS inputs to the health sector include more than 600 health professionals graduating per year through 23 degree programs, many of whom assume leadership positions. MakCHS contributions to processes include strengthened approaches to engaging communities, standardized clinical care procedures, and evidence-informed policy development. Outputs include the largest number of outpatients and inpatient admissions in Uganda. From 2005-2009, MakCHS also produced 837 peer-reviewed research publications (67% in priority areas). Outcomes include an expanded knowledge pool, and contributions to coverage of health services and healthy behaviors. Impacts include discovery and applications of global significance, such as the use of nevirapine to prevent HIV transmission in childbirth and male circumcision for HIV prevention. Pilot projects have applied innovative demand and supply incentives to create a rapid increase in safe deliveries (3-fold increase after 3 months), and increased quality and use of HIV services with positive collateral improvements on non-HIV health services at community clinics.
Conclusion
MakCHS has made substantial contributions to improving health in Uganda, and shows great potential to enhance this in its new transformational role – a model for other Universities.
doi:10.1186/1472-698X-11-S1-S2
PMCID: PMC3059474  PMID: 21411002
2.  Situational analysis of teaching and learning of medicine and nursing students at Makerere University College of Health Sciences 
Background
Makerere University College of Health Sciences (MakCHS) in Uganda is undergoing a major reform to become a more influential force in society. It is important that its medicine and nursing graduates are equipped to best address the priority health needs of the Ugandan population, as outlined in the government’s Health Sector Strategic Plan (HSSP). The assessment identifies critical gaps in the core competencies of the MakCHS medicine and nursing and ways to overcome them in order to achieve HSSP goals.
Methods
Documents from the Uganda Ministry of Health were reviewed, and medicine and nursing curricula were analyzed. Nineteen key informant interviews (KII) and seven focus group discussions (FGD) with stakeholders were conducted. The data were manually analyzed for emerging themes and sub-themes. The study team subsequently used the checklists to create matrices summarizing the findings from the KIIs, FGDs, and curricula analysis. Validation of findings was done by triangulating information from the different data collection methods.
Results
The core competencies that medicine and nursing students are expected to achieve by the end of their education were outlined for both programs. The curricula are in the process of reform towards competency-based education, and on the surface, are well aligned with the strategic needs of the country. But implementation is inadequate, and can be changed:
• Learning objectives need to be more applicable to achieving competencies.
• Learning experiences need to be more relevant for competencies and setting in which students will work after graduation (i.e. not just clinical care in a tertiary care facility).
• Student evaluation needs to be better designed for assessing these competencies.
Conclusion
MakCHS has made a significant attempt to produce relevant, competent nursing and medicine graduates to meet the community needs. Ways to make them more effective though deliberate efforts to apply a competency-based education are possible.
doi:10.1186/1472-698X-11-S1-S3
PMCID: PMC3059475  PMID: 21411003
3.  "I never had the money for blood testing" – Caretakers' experiences of care-seeking for fatal childhood fevers in rural Uganda – a mixed methods study 
Background
The main killer diseases of children all manifest as acute febrile illness, yet are curable with timely and adequate management. To avoid a fatal outcome, three essential steps must be completed: caretakers must recognize illness, decide to seek care and reach an appropriate source of care, and then receive appropriate treatment. In a fatal outcome some or all of these steps have failed and it remains to be elucidated to what extent these fatal outcomes are caused by local disease perceptions, inappropriate care-seeking or inadequate resources in the family or health system. This study explores caretakers' experiences of care-seeking for childhood febrile illness with fatal outcome in rural Uganda to elucidate the most influential barriers to adequate care.
Methods
A mixed methods approach using structured Verbal/Social autopsy interviews and in-depth interviews was employed with 26 caretakers living in Iganga/Mayuge Demographic Surveillance Site who had lost a child 1–59 months old due to acute febrile illness between March and June 2006. In-depth interviews were analysed using content analysis with deductive category application.
Results
Final categories of barriers to care were: 1) "Illness interpretation barriers" involving children who received delayed or inappropriate care due to caretakers' labelling of the illness, 2) "Barriers to seeking care" with gender roles and household financial constraints hindering adequate care and 3) "Barriers to receiving adequate treatment" revealing discontents with providers and possible deficiencies in quality of care. Resource constraints were identified as the underlying theme for adequate management, both at individual and at health system levels.
Conclusion
The management of severely ill children in this rural setting has several shortcomings. However, the majority of children were seen by an allopathic health care provider during the final illness. Improvements of basic health care for children suffering from acute febrile illness are likely to contribute to a substantial reduction of fatal outcomes. Health care providers at all levels and private as well as public should receive training, support, equipment and supplies to enable basic health care for children suffering from common illnesses.
doi:10.1186/1472-698X-8-12
PMCID: PMC2614407  PMID: 19055738
4.  Community referral in home management of malaria in western Uganda: A case series study 
Background
Home Based Management of fever (HBM) was introduced as a national policy in Uganda to increase access to prompt presumptive treatment of malaria. Pre-packed Chloroquine/Fansidar combination is distributed free of charge to febrile children <5 years. Persisting fever or danger signs are referred to the health centre. We assessed overall referral rate, causes of referral, referral completion and reasons for non-completion under the HBM strategy.
Methods
A case-series study was performed during 20 weeks in a West-Ugandan sub-county with an under-five population of 3,600. Community drug distributors (DDs) were visited fortnightly and recording forms collected. Referred children were located and primary caretaker interviewed in the household. Referral health facility records were studied for those stating having completed referral.
Results
Overall referral rate was 8% (117/1454). Fever was the main reason for mothers to seek DD care and for DDs to refer. Twenty-six of the 28 (93%) "urgent referrals" accessed referral care but 8 (31%) delayed >24 hours. Waiting for antimalarial drugs to finish caused most delays. Of 32 possible pneumonias only 16 (50%) were urgently referred; most delayed ≥ 2 days before accessing referral care.
Conclusion
The HBM has high referral compliance and extends primary health care to the communities by maintaining linkages with formal health services. Referral non-completion was not a major issue but failure to recognise pneumonia symptoms and delays in referral care access for respiratory illnesses may pose hazards for children with acute respiratory infections. Extending HBM to also include pneumonia may increase prompt and effective care of the sick child in sub-Saharan Africa.
doi:10.1186/1472-698X-6-2
PMCID: PMC1434779  PMID: 16539744

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