Uganda Residency Facilitates One Health Partnerships
In 2011, Dr. Andrew Tamale of Makerere University in Uganda began laying the groundwork for a public health program adapted from the CAHFS veterinary preventive medicine and public health residency at the University of Minnesota. What resulted is the One Health residency, which was launched in February 2013 with three pioneer residents. While CAHFS residents work with veterinary public health issues, the Makerere program encompasses human health as well as animal health and food safety. In addition to its partnership with CAHFS, the residency is supported by the One Health Central and Eastern Africa (OHCEA), a network of 14 institutions of public health and veterinary medicine in six African countries of Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Uganda, with USA partners University of Minnesota and Tufts University collaborating to build One Health capacities.
The residents, along with Dr. Tamale and One Health resident mentor Dr. Sylvia Wanzala, arrived at the University of Minnesota in late May to complete a five-week long visit, which includes attending summer Public Health Institute courses. Wanzala emphasizes the importance of the leadership and policy training offered in such courses, as solutions to public health problems that require more than technical and medical expertise. For example, weaknesses in regulatory enforcement in Uganda allow farmers to take animals to slaughter before their withdrawal times are complete. So, products containing potentially dangerous drug and hormone residues often times find themselves on the market. Wanzala explains that such breaks in the food chain are best addressed when public health and medical professionals are able to deploy government and policy knowledge. The residents shared their ideas on food safety and other public health concerns in February when CAHFS co-directors Ms. Linda Valeri co-facilitated a leadership course for areas prone to disease outbreak and Dr. Scott Wells helped facilitate the first Uganda Farm to Table program; Makerere University now hopes to partner with CAHFS annually to carry out the program. The Makerere residents’ time in Minnesota will also involve them developing relationships and partnerships with CAHFS faculty and residents in order to exchange knowledge that can be applied to public health-related projects both in Uganda and the United States.
The Makerere residency places emphasis on well-roundedness both in program structure and in project execution. Two of the residents, Dr. Shamilah Namusisi and Dr. David Muwanguzi are veterinarians, whereas Ms. Jacinta Mukulu Waila is a nurse. Wanzala says that this allows them to benefit collectively from their colleagues’ diverse views. In addition to their educational backgrounds, the residents have greatly distinct professional histories. Namusisi has worked for an international NGO, Muwanguzi was part of the local government in Uganda, and Waila worked as a nurse in Kenya. Wanzala hopes that in the future, the program will continue to attract professionals not just from various disciplines but from different geographical areas of eastern Africa.
When addressing public health issues in Uganda, the residents have already benefited from a collaborative One Health approach. Waila says that as a nurse, she “had never considered the animal perspective before. Nurses take a curative approach to rabies, for example, while veterinarians look at dogs, the source. Same with waste management, where veterinarians look into how to prevent vector-borne diseases.” Likewise, Namusisi and Muwanguzi agree that having a nurse as a colleague prevents them from “sticking to [their] professions” and compels them to consider a human health point of view in their work.
Waila adds that although addressing Uganda’s public health and food safety problems is easier said than done, she believes that newly-established partnerships help offer a promising start for the One Health residency at Makerere.