President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has commissioned a diagnostic test kit manufacturing plant, the first of its kind in the Great Lakes region.
Situated in Ntinda, Nakawa Division, Kampala, the state-of-the-art plant, Microhaem Scientifics (MHS), will support Uganda and the regional health sectors to develop local manufacturing capacity towards improving and sustaining the medical supply chain needs by producing high-quality and affordable malaria and HIV diagnostic testing kits in the country.
During the commissioning, President Museveni thanked the local scientists and the manufacturing plant proprietors for enhancing Uganda’s local manufacturing capacity in the health sector.
“I want to congratulate the Ugandan scientists for really waking up. The human race was not very scientific; it was only in 1865 that a man called Louis Pasteur found out that there are other organs that live around us, and we cannot see them with our naked eyes. This was not long ago when Louis Pasteur was able to see bacteria that cause fermentation in milk or something else. Before, the whole world didn’t know that there were other organisms around us,” he said.
“It is really not good for people who say they are scientists to fail to understand and use this scientific knowledge to solve problems. For instance, how does quinine attack the malaria you are talking about? This is just biochemistry or molecular biology, so how would the scientists not know this, and you say you are a scientist? In the army, we were able to understand explosions by just using the properties of different compounds,” he added.
H.E. encouraged the local scientists to partner with their colleagues around the world so that they can develop the science sector in Uganda more.
“If you wake up, it will be easy for you to find partners in the world because those partners are there—the ones who woke up earlier than you. I thank scientists from the US and China for working with you.”
The president noted that partnerships are possible because Uganda has a very powerful resource, which is the market.
He also assured the local scientists that the government will continue injecting more funds into their projects to ensure that they are successful.
“There are these funds that we have put in UDB, and we shall always put in more that are meant to support that transformation from a superstition-controlled society to a science-led society. That money is just for the beginning; we shall inject more,” he assured.
Therefore, I really salute you young people for waking up and getting out of the slavery of dependence because that has been the problem.”
The Minister of Health, Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng, noted that for years, Uganda has been facing a challenge of unsustainable importation of the required diagnostics and medicines for diseases like malaria, TB, sleeping sickness, and ebola, among others. She noted that local manufacturing is the only solution to this challenge.
“Like Your Excellency, you always say we must benefit from our diseases. Unfortunately, for a very long time, Uganda has been dependent on the importation of drugs, medical equipment, and other supplies from overseas. Your Excellency, it was about 15 years ago when Quality Chemicals Limited began to manufacture malaria and HIV drugs locally, and it is now manufacturing more drugs, including for hepatitis B,” she said.
“We are therefore very excited that we are now expanding the local manufacturing capacity to include laboratory reagents and other diagnostic devices. I congratulate the Microhaem Group of Companies for leading in the local diagnostic manufacturing space. Your Excellency, this investment is worthwhile because Uganda is at the heart of eight East African countries, including Somalia, with a combined population of more than 300 million people. We also have market access to over 1.4 billion people on the African continent through the African Continental Free Trade Area,” the minister added.
Dr. Cedric Akwesigye, the Managing Director and proprietor of Microhaem Scientifics, informed the President that 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.
The Microhaem Scientifics portfolio also includes HIV RDT kits, HIV self-test kits, malaria RDT kits, and hepatitis B kits.
“Your Excellency, when we met you in 2021, we promised you to make a manufacturing plant for Uganda to serve this nation. Sir, when I came back to give a progress report in October 2022, I promised you that I was adding vaccines to our agenda. Your Excellency, I’m delighted that today we are launching one of the promises that we made to you,” he said.
“Your Excellency, this manufacturing plant is a fourth-generation fully automated manufacturing facility, the first of its kind in Sub-Saharan Africa. In Africa, we have five companies that have ventured into diagnostics. They are in Morocco, Senegal, Ghana, South Africa, and now Uganda.”
Dr. Akwesigye also assured the President that the plant was ready for orders and to supply the products.
“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).”