Makerere University Walter Reed Project Hosts Handover Ceremony of US Government Donated COVID-19 Supplies to National and Selected Regional Referral Hospitals
By: Stephen Mugamba
The United States Mission in Uganda officially handed over Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) donated by the American people through the US Department of Defence(DoD) to Kiruddu and Mulago National Referral Hospitals, Jinja and Gulu Regional Referral Hospitals, and the Makerere University Walter Reed Project (MUWRP) Emerging Infectious Diseases Program (EIDP) laboratories located at the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) Entebbe and the Makerere University College of Veterinary Medicine Animal resources and Biosafety (CoVAB) . The ceremony was presided over by Major Woo Chung, the Chief, Office of Security Cooperation at the US Embassy in Uganda, and hosted at the MUWRP Head Office at Plot 42, Nakasero Road.
Others gracing the ceremony, were the Executive Director of Kiruddu National Referral Hospital (NRH), Dr. Charles Kabugo, also representing Mulago, Jinja and Gulu Hospitals, the MUWRP Executive Director; Dr. Hannah Kibuuka, MUWRP’s Acting Deputy Executive Director; Dr. Betty Mwesigwa, and the Principal Investigator MUWRP-EIDP, Prof. Denis Byarugaba.
In her welcome remarks, the MUWRP Executive Director thanked the American people for their generosity. Dr. Kibuuka also thanked the US Government for the support that MUWRP has been receiving over the years through the US DoD and the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR). She noted that the donated items will go a long way in protecting the health workers and boosting the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic in Uganda.
“On behalf of the MUWRP team, allow me to officially recognize the contribution of the American People through the US mission in Uganda and the US DoD through WRAIR to our partnering hospitals, MUWRP laboratories involved in the Emerging Infectious Diseases Surveillance Program”, Dr. Hannah.
The Kiruddu National Referral Hospital Executive Director, Dr. Kabugo Charles expressed his gratitude to the American Government for the continued support to Uganda, and MUWRP for always considering Kiruddu NRH as one of the implementing sites for its research projects. He pledged that Kiruddu NRH will continue to collaboratively work with MUWRP to further strengthen prevention, research, and response to emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases in Uganda.
Prof. Denis Byarugaba, the Principal Investigator of MUWRP’s Emerging Infectious Diseases Program, recognized the good collaboration that EIDP has with a number of key partners in the country including; the Ministry of Health and the Uganda Peoples Defence forces (UPDF) with whom they are trying to establish a strong surveillance program among UN AMISOM forces in Somalia. He also noted the immense support that the MUWRP-EIDP has always received through the DoD Defense Health Agency, under the Global Emerging Infections Surveillance (GEIS) Section.
“I thank the American people through the US Mission in Uganda for coming to our rescue at this stage when there is a global shortage of commodities. Sometimes there are questions that linger in our mind. We watch TVs and we see what is happening in the US and you still find it necessary to come and support us. We are very grateful for this. Our influenza research surveillance work puts us at a higher risk because we do sampling for patients that typically show influenza-like symptoms similar to COVID-19. This donation is timely, to complement our efforts to ensure that our research staff are safe from COVID-19 as they perform their duties”. Prof. Byarugaba.
On behalf of the US Embassy in Uganda, Maj. Woo Chung mentioned that the handover event was a sign of the partnership and support towards the efforts of managing the COVID-19 pandemic and other US efforts towards improved health for all in Uganda. He was pleased to represent his government at the event.
“I am truly honoured to formally hand over these PPE commodities and Lab supplies. I have no doubt that this support, will help to ensure that a robust response to the COVID-19 pandemic continues so that we do not lose the gains made to date in the fight against HIV and other emerging infections”, Maj. Chung.
This donation was made possible through the United States Department of Defense Oversees Humanitarian Disaster and Civic Aid (OHDACA) Program, and commodities to the tune of $126,940.20 were donated to the four hospitals and MUWRP-EIDP Labs. Donated commodities included N95 respiratory masks, surgical face masks, heavy duty cleaning gloves, bio-hazard bags, plastic re-usable aprons, re-usable cotton gowns, disinfection materials, face shields and safety glasses and Lab supplies such as COVID-19 testing kits and reagents.