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Health ministry, ICHAD to conduct research on poverty and mental health

Health Minister Jane Ruth Aceng and ICHAD’s Fred Sewamala shortly after signing the MOU(Photo/Courtesy)

The Ministry of Health (MOH) has signed a five-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with global NGO ICHAD to carry out research that addresses the financial, mental health, and educational needs of families and children affected by among others the HIV/AIDs epidemic.

According to Fred Sewamala, a Researcher at Washington University in St. Louis who led the International Center for Child Health and Development (ICHAD) delegation, the funding is geared towards capacity building by training young researchers and policymakers to implement innovations that solve health challenges of children and adolescents.

As part of the MOU, officials in the ministry will be offered scholarships to study various programs as agreed on as critical in addressing the current gap affecting the improvement of public health outcomes for children and adolescents.

While he couldn’t reveal amounts of funding set aside for this, Sewamala said the programme which will allow officials to enroll for Masters and PhD courses will later on extend to the Ministries of Education and Gender, Labor and Social Development.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Health Minister Dr Jane Ruth Aceng said the MOU is timely having come at a time when they are searching for collaborations that will stand the test of time. She mentions that the organization has already benefited over 200 schools in the greater Masaka Region with its poverty alleviation program for families affected by HIV.

For her, poverty impounds not just public health programs but also school completion rates.

Aceng says the new focus on training policymakers in research is important since they do planning every year but never get to assess what comes out of their planning which leads to a mismatch between the actual needs of the community and what is provided by the government.

Some of the research already commissioned by ICHAD include assessing the ability of orphans to save and stay in school, the prevalence of depression among youth living with HIV in Uganda in addition to engaging adolescents in research and policy.

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