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New beginning: President M7 to Commission First Diagnostics Manufacturing Plant in the Great Lakes Region

President Yoweri Museveni will tomorrow, November 28, commission a diagnostic test kits manufacturing plant, the first of its kind in the Great Lakes region, saving the country over USD 100M spent annually on test kits importation.

The Ntinda-based state-of-the-art plant will support Uganda and the regional health sectors to develop local manufacturing capacity towards improving and sustaining the medical supply chain needs.

Uganda and all of the Great Lake Regional countries predominantly depend on the importation of similar diagnostic test kits and other related drugs. 

Owned by Microhaem Scientifics (MHS) who are closely working with the government of Uganda, the private firm, supported by her technology transfer partners, Guangzhou Wondfo Biotech Co., Ltd (China) and Deseret Laboratories Inc (US Based), has completed the construction and equipment of the first state-of-the-art manufacturing facility to produce high-quality and affordable essential test kits including for HIV and Malaria.

“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),” the Managing Director and proprietor Dr. Cedric Akwesigye said.

Dr. Akwesigye added that the facility represents a significant stride in advancing Africa’s new public health agenda of reducing health products importation from 99% to 40% by 2040 and in particular Uganda’s National Development Plan III commitment to enhance industrialization and import substitution.

He explained that the commencement of production will be a milestone in the region’s medical industry, as it will lead to reduced costs of diagnostic test kits and other related drugs. 

The huge facility has been equipped with state-of-the-art technology to produce a range of both Molecular and Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDT) kits, HIV Viral load test kits, HIV Early Infant Diagnosis (EID) test kits, and HIV Drug Monitoring kits.

Microhaem Scientifics portfolio also includes HIV RDT kits, HIV Self-Test kits, Malaria RDT kits, and Hepatitis B kits.

The Microhaem Scientifics founder and MD said the plant, the first of its kind in Uganda, would start making and distributing test kits immediately.

He said that the production of high-quality, affordable, and easy-to-access diagnostic test kits within the country will enable quick response to any outbreaks and mitigate the uncertainties and desperateness that arise from depending on external supplies and support.

Dr. Akwesigye said that at its full capacity, the facility will create over 1500 direct and over 5,000 indirect jobs including the transfer of skills and building competencies in quality assurance, bioprocessing, research and development, and innovation.

Long before the now-approved Covid-19 vaccines had gone through the full cycle of clinical trials, several developed countries, including the European Union bloc, the United States, and Britain, had placed orders for million doses from pharmaceutical companies.

Like many other developing countries, Ugandans watched in disbelief as the western countries hoarded their own vaccines, denying millions of doses to countries across Africa in dire need.

“We call for more action to ensure that at the centre of a global recovery is equitable access to effective and affordable vaccines,” President Museveni said during one of the addresses—adding this should also include therapeutics and diagnostics that help treatment in the absence of the vaccines.

He pledged to support local firms to build their capacity in efforts to develop local solutions and resilience for future outbreaks.

In Uganda, clinically diagnosed malaria is the leading cause of both morbidity and mortality rates, accounting for 30-50 % of outpatient visits at health facilities, 15-20% of all hospital admissions, and up to 20% of most hospital deaths, according to statistics from the country’s Ministry of Health.

Malaria is endemic in approximately 95% of the country, affecting over 90% of the population.

 Uganda having the 3rd highest number of annual malaria deaths in Africa and the world over, with approximately 16 million cases reported in 2013, 13.4 million in 2019, and 10,500 deaths reported annually.

Now, the new plant will allow Uganda and the region to take care of their needs using the most modern technology, filling the most direly needed requirements of African health.

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