Centre for International Health


Increasing capacity for Mama-baby survival in post-conflict Uganda and South Sudan.

Main content

South Sudan and Northern Uganda have very high maternal and early childhood morbidity and mortality, and at the same time very low number of health workers dedicated to maternal and child health. Gulu University, Busitema University and University of Juba in South Sudan are all young institutions, located in close geographic proximity. They are also institutions in post conflict areas where the burden of disease and death, especially among women and children, is unacceptably high.

The goal of the project is to lower childhood and maternal morbidity and mortality in post-conflict and disaster prone communities by increasing the capacity for teaching, research and health care provision at higher education institutions in these areas.

Higher education for lower maternal and child mortality rates

The initial phase of the project involved personnel training to assure that the Universities had adequate teaching staff to administer and teach master's programmes. The universities collaborated with Makerere University and University of Bergen as anchor institutions. The goal was to start a master's program in paediatrics at both Busitema University and Gulu University.  

The master’s program in pediatrics at Busitema University managed to start before the project ended.  At Gulu University, the master’s program was not approved at national level before the project ended due to too few PhD-qualified staff.

Breakthrough after program conclusion

A significant breakthrough occurred spring 2023 when Dr Beatrice Odonkara, (pediatrician) completed her PhD, entitled "Small newborns in post-conflictNorthern Uganda". After this, Dr. Odonkara was appointed Head of Department Paediatrics and Child Health at the University of Gulu and with this addition, the master’s program in pediatrics at Gulu University was given a go-ahead.

The impact of the Survival Pluss project is evident in the increased capacity and competence, with several new PhDs at Busitema University and Gulu University. Busitema is now launching a second master's program, this time in obstetrics and gynaecology, alongside the existing program in pediatrics.

Educational development is a fundamental driver of progress. However. it often takes time to see substantial outcomes, with results sometimes materialising after the project periods are completed. The Survival Plus project is one such example as the project was part of the NORHED I, but results continue based on the work in the project. These accomplishments underscore how educational projects may foster resilience, and further development and sustainable results in partner institutions.

Read more at the NORHED project website.