Makerere University has revealed that despite sending all students home following the Presidential directive to close institutions of learning, the medical students were detained to help the team from Government fight the threat of coronavirus in the country.
A statement posted on University’s official twitter handle reads, “Management agreed to the request from the Ministry of Health to retain all Clinical postgraduate students at Mulago Hospital and affiliated hospitals of Kiruddu, Kawempe, Butabika, and Naguru. A section of academic staff in priority fields also remained and others are on standby.”
It should be recalled that last week, the Ministry of Health revealed plans to recruit more staff on a temporary basis to help in the fight against the Coronavirus pandemic in Uganda.
The revelation was made by Dr Diana Atwine, Permanent Secretary Ministry of Health while appearing before Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC), where she told MPs that at the moment, the Ministry is currently operating under constrained manpower.
Atwine was quoted saying, “We are overwhelmed, right now as I speak our staff at the airport have not rested for two weeks, they have been working day and night, screening the people. I have written already to Cabinet to allow us to hire temporary staff.”
Barnabas Nawangwe, Vice Chancellor Makerere University confirmed the development writing, “We did this for our Country and Africa during the Ebola outbreak. We can still do it. I also applaud our researchers who have joined the rest of the world to find a solution to COVID-19. We are in this together.”
After the presidential directive to close all schools, a special meeting of the University Top Management was held on 20th March 2020 to consider the closure guidelines in view of the President’s directive and the formal closure of the University by the Chairperson of Council.
Makerere University had also warned its postgraduate students in clinical disciplines and staff who provide clinical services to hospitals as part of their training that they might be required to continue with those services in order to save lives.
The University Management welcome the measure considering the great risk presented by the COVID 19 global pandemic and ordered all students to vacate the University premises by 12pm on 20th March 2020 in line with the Presidential directive.
With the applications for new students underway, the University communicated in its guidelines that it had the capacity to apply online learning platforms by leveraging the existing Open, Distance, and E-Learning Policy (ODeL) and available infrastructure in selected programmes.
The Management also agreed to allow ongoing research to continue on condition that participants observe the COVID 19 preventive guidelines as provided by the Ministry of Health and the progressive student assessments could continue during the closure period through course work assignments that students can handle it from home.
During the closure, key administrative functions including financial administration and reporting, preparations of admissions for academic year 2020/2021, maintenance of the University Estate, security, legal advisory and University Hospital services were critical to maintaining limited the functionality of the University during the closure.
That ongoing capital development at the University which bind the University by contract continue to go on but under strict observance of the COVID 19 preventive guidelines as provided by the Ministry of Health.