Alumni Event to Celebrate Makerere and Karolinska Partnership held

Makerere University College of Health Sciences (MakCHS) and Karolinska Institutet (KI), Sweden hosted their alumni to celebrate the strategic partnership of the two institutions which began in 2000. The event was held on the 5th May 2022 at the Dean’s Gardens, College of Health Sciences, Mulago Hill, Kampala, Uganda. The collaboration between MakCHS and Karolinska Institutet began in 2000 initially focused on joint research projects. 

Makerere University and KI signed a Memorandum of Understanding in 2003 to support doctoral education and the collaboration expanded to include exchange of faculty and students. As a result of the collaboration between the two institutions, an active alumni network was created including health professionals and researchers. More than 300 faculty and students have benefited from the collaboration supported by the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida). Over 40 PhDs graduates and 500 peer-reviewed articles have been realized from the strategic partnership. Study programmes covered under the partnership include: Dentistry, Medicine, Midwifery, Nursing, Public Health Sciences and Speech and Language Pathology.

In his welcome remarks the Deputy Principal MakCHS, Prof. Isaac Kajja, who represented the Principal Prof Damalie Nakanjako, welcomed everyone and those attending from outside Uganda to the Pearl of Africa. He thanked the founding fathers of this collaboration, “some are still with us and others have since passed on” he said. Prof. Kajja said, “I thank KI and Sida for what you have done for Makerere and this country’. He noted that ‘Makerere is a prestigious university but the turbulent times of the 70s and 80s had taken us back. Its collaborations like this one with KI that have picked us up making MakCHS the 2nd best medical training college in sub-Saharan Africa”. Prof. Kajja congratulated the alumni more especially this year as Makerere celebrates 100years. He encouraged the alumni to adjust their thinking to leverage the past, and present to deliver the future noting that while previously it was infectious diseases; today it is changing to emerging infections and non-communicable diseases.

In his remarks, the President of KI – Ole Petter Ottersen congratulated Makerere University as they celebrate 100years this year. It was a pleasure to meet the Vice Chancellor of Makerere earlier today who shared with us the history of the University, he noted. The KI President highlighted that Makerere shares a rich history with KI. He explained that while KI has many international partnerships, the one with Makerere is the flagship collaboration. Ottersen further said, “we look to a further 50 years of collaboration and hope to apply a sustainable approach in the new CESH programme. This is not a ‘hit and run’ but we are giving it a long-term perspective”. He expressed his appreciation that following the bad news of September 2020 that the Main Building of Makerere University was burning, he visited the site and happy to see that it is being re-built. He congratulated the alumni from the various nations who have benefited from the collaboration.

Prof. Umar Kakumba, Deputy Vice Chancellor/Academic Affairs represented the Vice Chancellor Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe at the event. Prof. Kakumba in his remarks delivered warm greetings from the Vice Chancellor and Makerere leadership. “I am privileged this evening to welcome KI delegation which is a showcase of the fruits of collaboration. Our universities have enjoyed a fruitful collaboration; it began with research collaboration which grew into capacity building among others, 300 beneficiaries have been aided to-date”. He appreciated the Government of Sweden which has supported these initiatives noting that on the 9th to 10th May 2022, an international conference showcasing the impactful works supported through Sida over the last 20years will be hosted by Makerere University at Munyonyo Speke Resort.  The current strategic direction for Makerere University as an institution is research-led and evidence-based decision making with fostering research training as our niche, Prof. Kakumba said. He reiterated that more than peer-reviewed publications, our research should be translated into products, technologies and policies to inform better livelihoods for our population. Prof. Kakumba thanked MakCHS for the leadership and flagship programmes to support Makerere University’ strategic direction.