Land hindered installation of Covid machine - Musenero
What you need to know:
- The Science ministry, during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, received Shs5.3b for procurement of the equipment on a directive of the President, and part of this money was used for purchasing the Dr Oligo DNA Synthesizer.
A Covid-19 machine that was meant for diagnostics, development and therapeutics was not installed at the height of the pandemic because there was no suitable piece of land to accommodate it, Science Minister Dr Monica Musenero has said.
The Dr Oligo DNA Synthesizer, which was purchased at about Shs1.5b in 2020, remains kept away under lock and key in a store in Kampala.
The Science ministry, during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, received Shs5.3b for procurement of the equipment on a directive of the President, and part of this money was used for purchasing the Dr Oligo DNA Synthesizer.
READ: Uganda 15 years away from Covid jab - experts
Dr Musenero, whose Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation is under the Office of the President, made the revelation yesterday while interfacing with the lawmakers on the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
The lawmakers, while referring to the Auditor General’s forensic report on previous money spent on Covid-19, wondered why Prof Moses Joloba of Molecular Biology, Immunology and Microbiology at Makerere University did not install the Covid-19 equipment that was meant to aid his work.
“The scientist [Joloba] did not utilise the equipment due to reasons beyond his control. When he submitted his proposal, it included a refurbishment of a facility in Kasangati [a town council in Wakiso District]. However, upon beginning the work [of installation], the regulators rejected the site, calling it unsuitable,” Dr Musenero said.
She added: “The equipment needed to be in a Good Laboratory Practice (facility) and we could not get land....in places we wanted to do the installation.”
Mr Asuman Basalirwa (Bugiri Municipality), the vice chairperson of the committee, said a loss had occurred because no proper planning was done during the process.
MP Nathan Mafabi (Budadiri West) wondered why getting suitable land was a problem for installing the machine yet the country is always giving a lot of land to investors.
Despite the machine laying idle in the stores, Dr Musenero said they still need the equipment of the machine as it is not only specific to Covid-19 but also will enable manufacturers to produce ingredients which go into Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) kits of any type.
Despite having faced several challenges in making the local Covid-19 vaccine, Dr Musenero said they are making good progress, with one of the candidate vaccines having completed animal studies.