President Museveni is scheduled to inaugurate tomorrow a diagnostic test kit manufacturing facility, the first of its kind in the Great Lakes region. This would probably prevent the nation from having to import test kits, which currently cost over $100 million yearly.
The state-of-the-art facility in Ntinda will assist Uganda and the surrounding health sectors in building local manufacturing capacity to enhance and maintain the demands of the medical supply chain. The main source of imports for Uganda and all the Great Lake Region nations is comparable diagnostic test kits and other associated medications.
Owned by Microhaem Scientifics (MHS), a private company that works closely with the Ugandan government, the facility has finished construction and equipment of the first state-of-the-art manufacturing facility to produce essential test kits, including HIV and malaria, at a reasonable price. It is supported by its technology transfer partners, Guangzhou Wondfo Biotech Co., Ltd. (China) and Deseret Laboratories Inc. (US Based).
The managing director and owner, Dr. Cedric Akwesigye, stated, “The manufacturing plant has been constructed in accordance with the World Health Organization’s Standards, ISO 13485 and cGMP, and has been inspected and supported by the Uganda National Drug Authority (NDA)”.
Dr. Akwesigye continued, “The facility marks a significant step toward advancing Uganda’s National Development Plan III commitment to enhance industrialization and import substitution, as well as Africa’s new public health agenda of reducing health product importation from 99% to 40% by 2040.”
He clarified that the start of manufacturing will mark a significant turning point for the medical industry in the area because it will result in lower prices for diagnostic test kits and other relevant medications.
Modern equipment has been installed in this expansive facility to enable the production of a variety of test kits for HIV drug monitoring, HIV Early Infant Diagnosis (EID), HIV Viral Load Test, and Molecular and Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDT).
The MD and founder of Microhaem Scientifics stated that test kits would be produced and distributed right away by the plant, which is the first of its type in Uganda. According to him, the nation’s ability to produce inexpensive, high-quality, and easily accessible diagnostic test kits will allow for a prompt reaction to any epidemics and lessen the anxiety and desperation that come with relying on outside resources.
According to Dr. Akwesigye, when the facility reaches full capacity, it will generate over 5,000 indirect jobs in addition to over 1500 direct positions. These jobs will involve skill transfer and competency building in areas such as bioprocessing, innovation, research and development, and quality assurance.
Million-dose orders from pharmaceutical companies were placed by a number of developed nations, including the United States, Britain, and the European Union bloc, long before the now-approved COVID-19 vaccines had completed the full cycle of clinical trials. Ugandans, along with many other poor nations, were shocked to see how the West hoarded its own vaccinations, preventing millions of doses from reaching needy countries in Africa.
President Museveni stated during one of the presentations, “We call for more action to ensure that at the center of a global recovery is equitable access to effective and affordable vaccines,” adding that this should also include pharmaceuticals and diagnostics that aid in treatment in the event that vaccines are not available.
He promised to help regional businesses increase their capacity so they could create resilient local solutions in the event of future outbreaks.
According to data from Uganda’s Ministry of Health, clinically diagnosed malaria is the primary cause of both morbidity and mortality rates, accounting for 30–50% of outpatient visits to medical facilities, 15-20% of all hospital admissions, and up to 20% of most hospital deaths. Over 90% of people are affected by malaria, which is endemic in about 95% of the nation.
With over 16 million cases reported in 2013, 13.4 million in 2019, and 10,500 deaths reported annually from malaria, Uganda has the third-highest annual mortality toll from the disease both in Africa and globally. The new factory will meet the most pressing needs for African health by enabling Uganda and the surrounding area to take care of their needs by utilizing the most cutting-edge technologies.