Taking collective responsibility to combat COVID-19 in Uganda

18 May 2020
ITC News

An Indian pharmaceutical company reaches out to help contain the spread of coronavirus in Uganda.

"Businesses such as ours have an obligation to devote whatever resources we can to combat COVID-19. This crisis calls for global responsibility and businesses in our industry are best placed to answer this call," said the Managing Director of Africure Pharmaceuticals, Sunil Reddy.

Sunil practices what he preaches. His company recently donated 5,000 Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDT) kits to the government of Uganda. These kits will mostly be used for screening in rural areas.

"The kits that our company has donated specifically test whether or not a person has developed antibodies for COVID-19. These tests are critical for timely detection of the infection. The testing kits will improve the government's capacity and flexibility in combating the virus." he elaborated.

Access to quality and affordable pharmaceutical products has long been a public health challenge across the continent.

"We produce 1.2 billion tablets per annum of generic medicines including antibiotics, paracetamol and anti-inflammatory medication. We also produce intravenous fluids as well as about 20 million medicinal syrups per year.  In all the countries that we work in, over 90% of our employees are locals," said Sunil talking about his company's support to the sector.

Africure is an Indian company pursuing a vision to help Africa build self-sufficiency in pharmaceutical manufacturing. Since 2001, it has established pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities in Botswana, Cote d'Ivoire, Cameroon, with planned expansion into Uganda.

"We are new in Uganda.  International Trade Centre's Supporting Indian Trade and Investment for Africa (SITA) project facilitated our entry in January 2020. Since 2015, SITA has been providing us with insights into opportunities in the East African market, and they have been a valuable partner not only on this investment journey but also in ensuring our donation of RDT kits to the government of Uganda," he said.

In the future, Sunil hopes to support government of Uganda's efforts to build first class medical infrastructure in the country, alongside partners such as the International Trade Centre, to help create jobs and improve services available to people in the country.

SITA is funded by the United Kingdom's Department for International Development. The project responds to the challenges that selected East African countries - Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania - face in increasing, and diversifying, exports; and in attracting investment in agro-processing and light manufacturing.