“Tuberculosis is the most serious opportunistic infectious disease among people living with HIV."
Uganda has received sh24b from Janssen, a pharmaceutical company, for a project to address the gaps in HIV/AIDS research and other communicable diseases.
This was revealed during the launch of a five-year strategic plan for the period 2016-2021 by the Uganda Academy for Health Innovation and Impact. The academy was established by the health ministry to address the existing gaps in HIV/AIDS and TB research.
Diana Assimwe, the program manager, said the project will encompass HIV, TB clinical management, and applied research to address urgent health needs in Uganda.
“The academy will contribute to a critical mass of scientists that will drive innovations in healthcare by investment in scholars at Masters and Doctorate level. It will also conduct research into overcoming barriers in effective health care delivery,” she said.
In order to support the implementation of innovations that address challenges in the sector, Assimwe said they will provide funding to various partners and work with a carefully selected group of partners.
While launching the Uganda Academy for health innovation and impact strategic plan at Infectious Disease Institute in Makerere University, Prof Samuel Luboga, the chairperson of the infectious disease institute said that Uganda has come a long way in the struggle against HIV and Tuberculosis so the academy will be using innovative approaches in its efforts to counter HIV and TB.
“Tuberculosis is the most serious opportunistic infectious disease among people living with HIV because it is the biggest cause of many of their deaths,” he said.
"I believe that the work of the Ugandan Academy will help support the development and implementation of a suitable model to increase the catchment of TB patients living with HIV and address TB mortality and morbidity among them.”
Currently there are an estimated 1.5 million people living with HIV and around 6000 with Tuberculosis, Both HIV and TB remain diseases of great public health concern in Uganda.
Although improvements have been made in the fight against TB, with the World Health Organisation indicating that the burden of TB is on the decline in Uganda and that Uganda attained her MDG targets prior to 2015, it’s not yet time to relax and celebrate.
The academy director Dr. Rosalind Parkes-Ratanshi, said the academy is a new entrant in the health innovation space in Uganda.
“The academy will work to influence policy and decision-making in the heath sector through advocacy and lobbying. We are going to work with media to increase awareness on health issues,” she said.
Dr. Maik Stumpf, the director Disease Management Programs at Janssen, Johnson & Johnson, said that they recognize that combining on-going innovation with widely-available technologies will be key to unlocking impactful solutions for public health and innovative collaborations.
“Over the next years, the academy’s work will lay the foundations for improving health outcomes for Ugandan people living with serious infectious diseases for generations to come,” he said.