Kampala, Uganda | FLAVIA NASSAKA | President Yoweri Museveni has expressed displeasure at what he called a ‘slave mentality’ among scientists in Uganda.
“I do not know what the problem with Africans. If the Europeans do not get a solution, we wait and die? This I cannot accept,” he said.
The comment followed concerns raised by Dr Monica Musenero, the presidential advisor on epidemics that the National Drug Authority (NDA), an entity established to ensure the availability of essential, efficacious and cost-effective drugs to Ugandans is largely equipped to monitor imported medicines.
This came up at a function to assess the effectiveness of Uganda’s first homegrown solution to COVID-19, which was launched on Wednesday. The drug, the country’s first herbal remedy to go through the process is completely natural, made from raw materials sourced from Kabarole and Ngora areas.
The run-up to the launch also so Facebook delete a post by Makerere University promoting the launch.
Dr Grace Nambatya, the Director of the Natural Chemotherapeutics Research Institute, also the principal investigator said that they were challenged by a lack of standards and the fact that many scientists were just learning issues to do with product formulation.
But despite the challenges, Dr Nambatya said that the product has now met all the requirements by the regulating bodies and they are ready to enroll their 128 target study participants. After their comments, Museveni said these officials are being enslaved by Europeans.
Dr Bruce Kirenga, the Director Makerere University Lung Institute who is the senior clinical trial physician said assessing the efficacy of this drug code-named UBV – 01N started with trials on animals. He said they are randomly enrolling patients being treated for COVID-19 at Mulago National Referral Hospital who will either be given an active drug or a placebo.
Later he says they will start testing the drug on patients being treated at other facilities across the country.
Once given the drug, Kirenga says that the patients of different disease severity will be tested to see if the product is present in their blood.
“The produce UBV – 01N has been documented to be effective from a lot of community experience, but also studies in other diseases. This encouraged us to undertake a design trial,” Kirenga said.
Already, Uganda has concluded two COVID-19 treatment trials whereby they were testing the efficacy of antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine and another in which they were testing whether blood plasma of recovered COVID-19 patients can be used in the treatment of those that are sick. However, these studies were replicas of what was being studied elsewhere in treatment of the viral respiratory disease.
Meanwhile, for the new herbal cure, Musenero says it has been used and worked for people in the communities of Tooro where the components were picked. Results of the study will be ready in the next six months.
Uganda has so far recorded a cumulative 39,188 confirmed COVID-19 cases. Of these, 318 have died.