This article is part of the supplement: An innovative approach to building capacity at an African university to improve health outcomes

Open Access Open Badges Research

Situational analysis of teaching and learning of medicine and nursing students at Makerere University College of Health Sciences

Sarah Kiguli1*, Rhona Baingana2, Ligia Paina3, David Mafigiri4, Sara Groves5, Godfrey Katende1, Elsie Kiguli-Malwadde1, Juliet Kiguli1, Moses Galukande1, Mayega Roy1, Robert Bollinger6 and George Pariyo7

Author Affiliations

1 Makerere University College of Health Sciences, Kampala, Uganda

2 Faculty of Science, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda

3 School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA

4 Faculty of Social Sciences, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda

5 School of Nursing, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA

6 School of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA

7 HQ/HWA Global Health Workforce Alliance, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland

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BMC International Health and Human Rights 2011, 11(Suppl 1):S3  doi:10.1186/1472-698X-11-S1-S3

Published: 9 March 2011



Makerere University College of Health Sciences (MakCHS) in Uganda is undergoing a major reform to become a more influential force in society. It is important that its medicine and nursing graduates are equipped to best address the priority health needs of the Ugandan population, as outlined in the government’s Health Sector Strategic Plan (HSSP). The assessment identifies critical gaps in the core competencies of the MakCHS medicine and nursing and ways to overcome them in order to achieve HSSP goals.


Documents from the Uganda Ministry of Health were reviewed, and medicine and nursing curricula were analyzed. Nineteen key informant interviews (KII) and seven focus group discussions (FGD) with stakeholders were conducted. The data were manually analyzed for emerging themes and sub-themes. The study team subsequently used the checklists to create matrices summarizing the findings from the KIIs, FGDs, and curricula analysis. Validation of findings was done by triangulating information from the different data collection methods.


The core competencies that medicine and nursing students are expected to achieve by the end of their education were outlined for both programs. The curricula are in the process of reform towards competency-based education, and on the surface, are well aligned with the strategic needs of the country. But implementation is inadequate, and can be changed:

• Learning objectives need to be more applicable to achieving competencies.

• Learning experiences need to be more relevant for competencies and setting in which students will work after graduation (i.e. not just clinical care in a tertiary care facility).

• Student evaluation needs to be better designed for assessing these competencies.


MakCHS has made a significant attempt to produce relevant, competent nursing and medicine graduates to meet the community needs. Ways to make them more effective though deliberate efforts to apply a competency-based education are possible.