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Museveni Wants Uganda to be Self-Reliant in Pandemic Response :: Uganda Radionetwork

Museveni Wants Uganda to be Self-Reliant in Pandemic Response

According to the President, it is important for Uganda not to depend on anyone during its response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The country has two potential therapeutics and vaccine research taking place
19 Jun 2021 12:57
Some of the herbal products that have been developed to manage COVID-19

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By next year Uganda will not depend on other countries to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic according  to President Yoweri Museveni.

At the moment, over 80 percent of the country's response is dependent on supplies, research and recommendations from global health agencies. For instance, the treatment regimen used to manage patients is based on research and studies that have taken place abroad.

Also the vaccine used, the COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccine was developed by researchers in the U.K

In addition to this, the PCR re-agents used to carry out testing for the disease are also procured from abroad. The country also still imports rapid diagnostic kits to test for COVID-19.

Health equipment such as personal protective equipment like body suits, gloves and some masks are still imported. At the moment, the country is asking neighbouring Kenya for Oxygen to increase supply due to shortages.

Despite what appears to be the country's high dependency on neighbours and friends to manage the disease, President Museveni says next year, all this will be history.

According to the President, with ongoing research on a possible treatment for COVID-19 and a vaccine, the country will no longer depend on others. He says two therapeutic herbal  treatments have shown promise.

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According to the President, the country has two possible treatments that are undergoing testing. A total of 100 people have used them, and according to preliminary findings, the treatments have been found capable of managing the disease.

Dr Grace Nambatya, the executive director of the Natural Chemotherapeutic Research Institute and also the principal investigator on one of the treatments- UBV -01N says the treatment works.

"This drug has been developed using natural herbs that we have had in this country for centuries. We have used it on patients and it has showed it works. At the moment we know it can treat COVID-19, we are now looking to see whether it can be used to prevent the disease," she said.

According to Dr Nambatya, in a few weeks, preliminary findings of the research will be presented to the country.The treatment is currently being sold at the NCRI offices in Wandegeya.

With regard to the vaccines, Dr Monica Musenero, the senior presidential advisor on epidemics and also the designated minister in charge of science and innovation in the office of the president, says Ugandan scientists are studying the different variants during the research process.

"We are developing vaccines but as we do this, we  are investigating all variants to see if we can produce a product that can work on all of them," Dr Musenero said.

Since Ugandan scientists are studying variants, President Museveni says Uganda's vaccine will be better than what exists on the market because it will be effective against even variants.

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The country is in the process of procuring equipment that will enable the production of both vaccines and therapeutics at a large scale.

So far, the country has been able to manufacture alcohol based sanitizer and an antibody test. Over 20 manufacturers of sanitizers have been accredited by the National Drug Authority.  

In addition to this, researchers under NCRI have been able to develop some herbal products to help in the management of the disease. These include: Warbugia Ugandensis, Cypress oil, Cypress herbal tea, propolis tincture and propolis throat spray. Studies are still ongoing but according to Dr Nambatya, preliminary results show that the products are effective in managing the disease.

Despite the president's enthusiasm and promising research findings, Africa's ability to develop vaccines and treatments for COVID-19 has been questioned by some scientists.

Five African countries; Egypt, Morocco, Senegal, South Africa and Tunisia have experience producing vaccines. However due to several challenges, the biggest being huge financial commitments needed to manufacture vaccines, according to the World Health Organisation it might take the continent more than three years to be able to have the capacity to manufacture COVID-19 vaccines even after waivers on vaccine rights were lifted by manufacturers.

The President's urge for Uganda to be self-reliant comes following several shortages of important supplies that have left the country stuck. Last year, the country faced big PPE shortages due to global shortages. This year, the country's COVID-19 vaccination plan has been held ransom by the lack of vaccines. Uganda's vaccine orders suffered a big blow after India put a ban on the exportation of the AstraZeneca vaccine after cases in their country increased.


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