Makerere university, situated in Kampala is Uganda’s largest university. The University was recently declared to be the foremost in Africa outside of the Republic of South Africa and has many famous graduates such as Julius Nyrere (former president on Tanzania) and Mwai Kibaki (current president of Kenya). The University consists of nine colleges and a school of law and currently has 30000 undergraduates and 3000 postgraduates.
The University has enjoyed a long relationship with Sida and funding has been provided focusing mainly on research and human resources capacity building, PHD/masters training and infrastructure (libraries, ICT and laboratories). Makerere also cooperates with a number of Swedish universities, amongst others the Karolinska Institutet (health research) and the Royal Institute of Technology (science and technology).
Dr. Obua, Dr. Tickodri-Togboa, Vice-chancellor Dr. Ddumba-Ssentamu and Dr. Katunguka-Rwakishaya from Makerere University in Uganda were proud when they visited Sida and the Research unit. Their university is the foremost in Africa outside of South Africa.
Since the assumption of the cooperation with Sida in 2000, 230 PhDs and 77 masters have been registered of which 121 PhDs and 35 masters have been completed. Modern laboratory equipment has been bought, the bandwidth upgraded and a system of 25000 e-journals is now accessible via the internet from anywhere in Uganda. But the University’s recent achievements are not just limited to the field of academics. Makerere is now the foremost university in Africa with regard to gender equality. Women currently make up 50% of the student body says Dr. Eli Katunguka-Rwakishaya when visiting Sida.
Research with the help of funding from Sida is currently done in a number of areas. There is an agriculture centre for waste management, which is a big problem. Amongst other uses waste can be used into animal feed and bio-gas can be generated from the dung and used for cooking and heating. The university also has centres of excellence in health research, a centre for research into renewable energy like solar panels and a centre for research in veterinary medicine.
Funding from Sida has been used for research on malaria which has generated new forms of treatment. This was urgently needed as previously used medicines had become ineffective, says Deputy Principal of Health Studies Dr. Celestino Obua.
Research is also being done on a HPV vaccine that can be administered to prevent cervix cancer at an older age than the current 10-15 years. Great advancements have been achieved in the field of Tuberculosis with regard to diagnoses which now take 3-5 days as opposed to the month it had previously taken.
The university faculties are also provided with funds to do their own research which, although small in amount, have led to important discoveries. For example, one found that school children carry so heavy school bags that they get Scoliosis and other deformities on their spines. The head teachers in Kampala have been informed of the damages found and the need for urgent action to be taken to lessen the number of books the children are required the carry. New legislature has been suggested which would result in the maximum weight of school-bags being limited to five percent of a child’s body weight as opposed to the 10 percent currently allowed.