The National Drug Authority (NDA) has cautioned parents and school heads against providing students with herbal drug, Covidex, citing concerns of drug misuse and consequent side effects.
The warning comes after some education stakeholders fronted the idea of students reporting back to school with vials of the drug for use in case they develop symptoms of Covid-19.
The idea is one of the many being advanced as the country seeks a safe way to reopen learning institution that have been closed for nearly one and a half years.
Mr Hasadu Kirabira, the chairperson of the National Private Education Institutions Association, said the idea was advanced by one of the members during an August 30 meeting between the Ministry of Education and other stakeholders, but was not agreed upon.
Covidex was approved by NDA for use both in children and adults as a supportive treatment of viral infections but some Ugandans have been taking it even without being sick.
Mr Abiaz Rwamwiri, the NDA spokesperson, told Daily Monitor yesterday that even as a herbal drug, Covidex is not risk-free and should be taken on the advice of a health worker.
“Covidex was approved…not as prevention (prophylaxis) of the same and must be used on the advice of a professional health worker. Forcing children to buy it when they are not sick promotes unsafe drug use. We remind the public that drugs should not be treated as snacks!” Mr Rwamwiri said.
The national drug regulatory authority also warned that the students may not be in position to safely store the drug.
“This proposal has significant safety implications relating to misuse, overuse, poor storage and unsupervised use of drugs. Drugs are sensitive in regard to how they are kept and used.”
Dr Misaki Wayengera, the chairperson of the Ministry of Health’s Scientific Advisory Committee on Covid-19, said there is no sufficient data to support the suggestion of giving the drug to children in regards to dosage, among others.
Dr Kedrace Turyagyenda, the director of standards at the Ministry of Education, said there has been no discussion about the suggestion, adding that those spreading such information are simply trying to excite the public.
“Before the [Education] ministry comes out and says these are the guidelines, do not listen to those rumours and wrong information…with Covid, everybody has an idea to contribute but all have to be discussed and be validated before they can be considered as strategies,” Dr Turyagenda said.