Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) bears 24% of the world's burden of disease, the lowest health worker to population ratio and has less than 1% of the global financial resources and 3% of the human resource needs. Globally 35 million people are living with HIV/AIDS, of whom 9.7 million are receiving antiretroviral therapy. HIV/AIDS and related illnesses remain major challenges to health in SSA, where 69% of the global HIV disease burden resides. HIV/AIDS Co-infections including tuberculosis and cryptococcal meningitis remain major causes of morbidity and mortality among HIV-infected individuals. In Uganda, 1.4 million people were estimated to be living with HIV and only 38% are receiving ART according to the 2013 WHO guidelines for ART initiation. The other infectious diseases that have challenged the continent for decades still remain while new ones emerge or old ones re-emerge. Non- communicable diseases (NCDs) are increasingly recognized as emerging epidemics that add an additional burden to our weak health systems already stretched by the ongoing HIV, tuberculosis, malaria and other infectious diseases. Indigenous institutions like Makerere University in Uganda need to play their role in identifying and finding sustainable and easily accessible interventions to the priority national and regional health challenges. Institutios including Makerere University grapple with the inadequate numbers of well-trained researchers particularly at the junior and mid-level. In the last 20-30 years Uganda has made significant advances and substantial contributions to research related to regionally relevant priority health challenges. Some of the research findings have contributed to national and global policies in the areas of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis (TB) and malaria. Makerere University College of Health Sciences (MakCHS) has played a central role in building Uganda's research capacity. The five-year funding from the Medical Education Partnership (MEPI) grant and its two linked awards (grants # 5R24TW008886, # 5R24TW008861 and # 4R25N5080968) have led to a remarkable further increase in the proportion of publications that have Ugandans as first authors. This demonstrates that the environment is ready for additional investments for research capacity enhancements that will support Ugandan institutions to leapfrog to the next level of research productivity. MakCHS and 4 other Ugandan have trained and mentored 15 PhD students and 68 masters' degree trainees and also supported 29 non-degree mentored faculty research fellowships. There are, however still major gaps in the research capacity of our training institutions required to accelerate improvements in the country's health status. We propose a five year training and mentoring program for junior and mid-level faculty with a particular focus on the three interlinked themes of HIV/AIDS and its associated co-infections, other infectious diseases including malaria, and NCDs. The goal of this proposal is to develop a sustainable culture for supporting research training and mentoring for career development of upcoming faculty in an environment at MakCHS that fosters continuous development and retention of independent researchers. To achieve this goal our program has three specific aims:
Aim 1 : To provide targeted training and mentorship for individualized research capacity development of junior and mid-level faculty to become independent research leaders capable of addressing regionally relevant health challenges and influence policy and practice.
Aim 2 : To increase faculty retention by facilitating research career progression through strengthening existing and emerging research groups focusing on HIV/AIDS-related illness, other infectious diseases and NCDs.
Aim 3 : To facilitate continued development of a conducive research environment at MakCHS with institutional research policies, infrastructure, incentives and services that support researchers to become internationally competitive in conducting high quality research. The proposed capacity building program is to contribute towards the realization of our long term vision for MakCHS to be a leading and transformational institution for academic excellence and innovation in health sciences in Africa. At the end of this 5-year training program, our overarching objective is to solidify research groups of productive, independent scientists who can competitively excel in securing international funding, strengthen the research culture at Makerere and build the capacity to support its partner universities in Uganda. MakCHS is increasingly recognized as a research leader in the area of HIV and associated co-infections, other infections including malaria and the emerging non-communicable diseases.
Makerere University College of Health Sciences (MakCHS) in Uganda has proposed a training and mentored research capacity enhancement program to develop a sustainable culture for research mentoring at MakCHS backed by a conducive administrative environment so as to ultimately become a world class research institution with improved research productivity and retention of well-trained scientists that can advance the nation's research agenda on priority health challenges. Junior and mid-level faculty will grow into research leaders through mentored research related to HIV/AIDS and associated co-infections; Malaria and other infectious diseases; and Non Communicable Diseases. The increased research capacity is vital for MakCHS to maximize its potential and contribute optimally in conducting relevant research necessary to inform policies and practice for improvement of people's health that will drive national development.
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