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Makerere University funds 120 research projects on Covid-19

Makerere University vice chancellor Prof Barnabas Nawangwe

Makerere University vice chancellor Prof Barnabas Nawangwe

More than 120 research and innovation projects in the field of Covid-19 have been funded by Makerere University Research and Innovation Fund (Mak-RIF).

This was disclosed by Dr Robert Wamala, a member of Mak-RIF Grant Management Committee, at a function to showcase the results of a project by the School of Languages, Literature and Communication.

The school, which falls under the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, presented booklets translated into six Ugandan languages and Braille on September 2, 2020. 

The project was titled ‘Communicating Covid-19-related messages in multilingual contexts’.

“This project is one of 121 projects directly on Covid-19 that Mak-RIF has funded. These projects total up to Shs 8.2 billion. The results are already available to see and appreciate. Besides these composed and translated materials, the university has already unveiled to the public other products and innovations such as the touchless handwashing kit for public shared spaces, the low-cost Bulamu medical ventilator and the biodegradable face mask,” Wamala said.

The project comprised language experts who worked in consultation with the ministry of Health to prepare and translated a booklet titled Coronavirus: What you need to know about coronavirus. The booklet was translated into Luganda, Runyankore-Rukiga, Ateso, Lugbarati, Luo and Swahili. The project team also engaged an expert, Chris Sserwaniko, to prepare a Braille and large print version of the booklet for the visually impaired. 

Dr Allen Asiimwe, the principal investigator, explained that the investigation was inspired by the realization that there were many individuals and communities not fully sensitized about Covid-19 due to the challenge of not understanding government messages given out in English and Luganda.

She said Mak-RIF provided her team with Shs 38 million for the project. The project has donated 75 copies of the Braille version and 40 copies of each language to the ministry of Health. With more funding, more copies could be printed, translation into more languages be made and a special version for the sign language be made and preparation of audios.

Other members of the research team were Dr Sarah Nakijjoba, Dr. Medadi Ssetanda, Dr. Innocent Masengo and Mr Chris Sserwaniko. Wamala thanked Uganda government for giving to Makerere University Shs 30 billion for research and innovations last financial year. He added that government has already released Shs 15 billion to the university this new financial year. 

Sarah Nakijjoba said their team utilized consultants in the natural sciences and a graphics designer. Their methodology involved consulting many sources like newspapers and websites. Gathering of information started early June and ended late July. 

“The booklet has general information about coronavirus and the associated disease, its transmission, precautionary measures, information about containing the virus, psychosocial awareness and clarifying various myths, among others,” she added.

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