Makerere University School of Public Health (MakSPH) is set to get a new home come 2025.
The School, which currently operates inside Mulago Hospital has embarked on the construction of an eight-storied facility valued at Shs30 billion next to Makerere University Eastern Gate.
The School Dean, Prof Rhoda Wanyenze, said the ambitious project is aimed at strengthening scientific research, teaching and learning for the growing student population, currently at more than 800, 85% of them graduate students.
As of February 2020, the School authorities said they had already released Shs6 billion collected from staff, well-wishers and project overheads.
“We are starting this ground-breaking project very soon. We already have about 20% of the money that we need to start this building. I have heard people asking, why shouldn’t we wait a little longer but we are severely constrained and we can’t afford to wait anymore,” said Prof Wanyenze on Friday.
The Netherlands Ambassador to Uganda, Mr Henk Jan Bakker, announced the Dutch contribution to a tune of approximately Shs1.12 billion towards the construction of an Auditorium, which is part of building design.
He said Public Health is not only Uganda’s concern but also a global necessity thus worth investing in.
Prof Barnabas Nawangwe, Makerere University Vice Chancellor, said the university is contributing Shs1 billion towards the project from the government’s proposed ring-fenced Shs10bn meant for infrastructure development at Makerere.
Prof Wanyenze has hailed the various organizations that pledged support towards the project including DFCU, Absa and Stanbic Bank and the National Social Security Fund (NSSF).
The staff of the School managed to contribute slightly above Shs400m.
“We are still looking out to partners and we have many pledges and we are optimistic that if these are released, we will be able to cover some ground. We still need a lot of money and looking out for networks and anybody that would like to contribute to such a worthy cause,” she added.
The facility will specifically cater for high-tech infrastructure fitted with demonstration and innovation laboratories, environmental health, epidemic, disaster and field epidemiology, ICT and data laboratories.
It will also have teaching and Auditoria that will provide space for teaching and dissemination of innovations with stakeholders within Uganda and the region, dedicated space for research, service centres and units as well as rooms for research fellows, doctoral and postdoctoral students.
The MakSPH was the first institute of Public Health on the continent. And as such, the school authorities say this places a huge responsibility on the school in ensuring edge cutting research is done to protect people.
The School of Public Health boasts of a high-level scientific research out-puts including over 200 peer-reviewed research publications annually.
It also enjoys grant awards including several multi-country grants. The big donors include the Rockefeller Foundation, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the Italian government and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Prof Wanyenze underlines the need for increased training and research that addresses the current public health concerns in Uganda.
Some of these include epidemics and pandemics of emerging and re-emerging pathogens, environmental degradation, climate change, urbanization, rapid population growth as well as internal displacements of people.