Uganda: Makerere Makes Ebola Testing Kit

25 February 2020

Makerere University College of Health Sciences has made an Ebola diagnostic testing device, which will be used to test the disease among Ugandans in case of an outbreak.

Ebola, which is currently affecting the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), attacked Uganda last year, but government and the Ministry of Health managed to combat it in three months.

Addressing journalists yesterday at Uganda Media Centre about the forthcoming world health summit, the Principal of Makerere College of Natural Sciences, Prof Charles Ibingira, said with the innovated Ebola testing kit, one will just use blood and the diagnostic kit to be able to know if he or she has the disease in few minutes.

"Initially, government has been taking samples of Ebola to Uganda Virus Research Institute, which could also sometimes take them outside the country for testing. This could take a couple of weeks before results come out," Prof Ibingira said.

"But with the new kit, one will be able to know if he or she is positive instantly and we hope that this will save lives and reduce on the spread of the disease," he added.

Prof Ibingira said they have confirmed the kit can work effectively. He, however, said they have submitted the financial implication of mass production of many kits to government, adding that the university needs about $100 (about Shs367b) for mass production of the kit.

"If they can avail us with the funds in the next 2020/2021 budget, we shall immediately set up the plant and start manufacturing the kits," Prof Ibingira said.

He said they have applied for patient rights that give them sole ownership of the idea and production in the country.

About world health summit

Makerere University in 2018 was selected as the host of the world health summit by the M8 Alliance Assembly. The summit will take place on February 27 to February 28 in Kampala.

Prof Ibingira said the summit, which is being held in Africa for the first time, will attract 240 health experts from across the world, who will address global issues on health and medicine.

He said the summit will discuss non-communicable diseases, HIV/Aids, malaria and other emerging health-threat diseases like coronavirus.

"Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) continue to be the leading cause of death globally. In Africa by 2025, NCDs will be responsible for 70 to 80 per cent of all deaths and they are stretching the already limited resources. Important efforts are therefore needed to curb the burden of NCDs in the region," Prof Ibingira said.

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