A new university cooperation project of Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Yale University, Makerere University and Johns Hopkins is funded by the Else Kröner-Fresenius-Stiftung (EKFS) with a grant of 1 million euros. Global health as an academic field has a longstanding history at North American Medical Schools. In 2008, the Consortium of Universities for Global Health (CUGH) was formed in the USA, with Yale University and Johns Hopkins as prominent partners. These institutions have established global health curricula, programs and separate global health institutes/departments. Yale and Hopkins have longstanding relationships with Makerere University focusing on enhancing human capacity for health.
The Else Kröner-Fresenius-Stiftung has funded the establishment of a Center of Excellence for Patient Centered Care and NCD management in the Nakaseke district since 2016. Project leader Prof. Dr. Felix Knauf from the Medical Department, Division of Nephrology and Internal Intensive Care Medicine of Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin (Director: Prof. Kai-Uwe Eckardt) has been committed to the Nakaseke district since 2015. “While substantial resources have been devoted towards treating communicable diseases (HIV/TB/ Malaria/ Ebola), little has been directed towards managing NCDs (hypertension, diabetes, chronic kidney disease (CKD), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and cancer). People living in poverty are often more exposed to common risk factors for NCDs and have hardly any access to health services. The majority of NCD morbidity and mortality occurs in low and middle-income countries. Patients with such pre-existing conditions have a much higher risk of developing serious infectious diseases such as COVID-19,” says project manager Knauf.
The project title Bulamu means “health” in the local Ugandan language. The project focuses on the expansion of care structures and the training and further education of local health personnel. In particular, the team relies on community health workers who sensitize, train and test the local population in dealing with chronic diseases, refer them to the participating health centers if necessary and provide long-term care. Furthermore, the Clinic for Gynecology (CBF) of the Charité supports the establishment of a program for the early detection of cervical cancer. During the first project phase, a total of 16,000 people living in the rural area were registered and questioned about existing noncommunicable diseases. The results of the study entitled Rural Uganda Non Communicable Disease Cohort (RUNCD) will be published soon. In the second funding phase, which is now beginning, a patient cohort will be established with the support of the Institute for Public Health of the Charité, with the help of which the success of the program can be scientifically evaluated. The exchange of medical students between Uganda, the USA and Germany, which was initiated in the first project phase, will also be continued.
Local project partners include the Nakaseke District Hospital, three other state and community-based health centres and Makerere University. The Center for Global Non-Communicable Disease Research and Training at Johns Hopkins University and the Department of Global Health at Yale University in the USA are also involved. “We are very pleased that this project will further strengthen the topic of global health and especially the cooperation with Uganda at Charité,” says Nora Anton of Charité Global Health, the coordination and communication platform for global health at Charité.