25 February 2013

Uganda: Kadaga Commends Doctor On HIV

The Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, has commended Prof. Peter Mugyenyi, a Ugandan doctor and HIV/AIDS researcher, for taking a step to tell the HIV/AIDS catastrophe in Uganda in writing.

"I would like to thank Peter for not behaving like an African. Africans are good storytellers, but only orally. But, Mugyenyi writes for the young, who were not there at that time of the catastrophe, to have an understanding of what transpired that time," she said.

Kadaga made the remarks at Sheraton Hotel, Kampala during the launch of Mugyenyi's book, A Cure Too Far, published by Fountain Publishers on Wednesday. The story, according to Prof. Arthur Gakwandi, who edited the book, is about human suffering and pained families as a result of HIV/AIDS.

He said the book presents one of the central chapters in Uganda's history that everyone should read to have an understanding of the helplessness, uncertainty and profiteering that engulfed the country at the peak of HIV/AIDS in the 1990s.

Referring to the 1990s, Mugyenyi said the situation was tragic and disastrous, adding that it was a period during which medical officers turned away patients because they had no solution to offer.

"I realised then that as a country, we had a lot to learn from the history of HIV/AIDS so as to be able to deal with any other deadly sickness that may come," he said.

"One of the ways to ensure that no one forgets this is to get the pen and tell the story so that those in positions of responsibility take responsibility in case of any future calamity," Mugyenyi added. The drugs available, according to Mugyenyi, were too expensive and there was more bigger danger because Indian pharmaceuticals were under a lot of pressure to stop producing and exporting generic drugs to Africa because of patent rights.

What saved Uganda, he said, was the suggestion to produce ARVs in Uganda.

"When the proprietors of Quality Chemicals approached me about the idea, for the first time I saw people who talked about what Uganda needed to contain the problem. I consider them national heroes for saving thousands and millions of people in the region," he said.

Emmanuel Katongole, the chief executive officer of Quality Chemicals, said Mugyenyi is the answer to anyone who still believes that a poor country cannot use its own people and resources to combat HIV.

The managing director of Fountain Publishers Limited, James Tumusime, noted that the history of humanity has a lot of oscillating moments - disaster and prosperity.

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