Uganda Receives 3 Million FMD Vaccines from Egypt to Combat Outbreak

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The Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry, and Fisheries welcomed a significant boost in their fight against Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) with the reception of 3 million doses of vaccines from Egypt.

Leading the ceremony was Chief of Defence Forces Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba, alongside Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry, and Fisheries, Frank Tumwebaze.

The vaccines, acquired at subsidized costs, were formally handed over by Egypt’s Deputy Minister for Agriculture, in the presence of the Egyptian Defense Attaché to Uganda.

The Minister of State for Animal Industry, Bright Rwamirama, MAAIF Permanent Secretary, Maj. Gen. David Kasura Kyomukama and other senior ministry officials were also present as the consignment was received at the airport by Gen. Kainerugaba, who is also the Chief of Defence Forces (CDF).

Muhoozi used his longstanding relationship with Egyptian authorities to secure the FMD vaccines from Cairo.

Muhoozi in a meeting with the Egyptian delegation in Entebbe

Staff Brig-Gen. Mohamed, the defence attaché at the Egyptian Embassy in Kampala, yesterday said the vaccines were part of the national reserves for Egypt, but a directive was given by President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to dispatch them to Uganda after learning of the current FMD outbreak.

“His Excellency President el-Sisi ordered a quick supply of 6 million doses of the vaccine from Egypt’s strategic reserves to help our brothers in Uganda overcome the pandemic quickly,” said Gen Mohamed.

The leader of the Egyptian delegation, Major General Mohsen Abdel Hakam Azouz, the Director of the Veterinary Service Department in Egypt, assured Minister Tumwebaze that this would only be the first batch of the 10 million vaccines Egypt is prepared to dispatch to Uganda.

He said the delegation members, including Prof. Dr Mohamed Ahmed Saad, the Director of the Veterinary Serum and Vaccine Research Institute in Egypt, and Dr. Abdel-Hamid Bazid of the MEVAC Company, were experts specialized in producing the required vaccines with international quality, and they were in Uganda to explore technical cooperation between the two countries in vaccine production.

Gen Muhoozi and Minister Frank Tumwebaze at Entebbe Airport on Thursday

Minister Tumwebaze commended the two governments for the cooperation that will see the first batch of vaccines arrive tomorrow.

He said the ultimate goal was to enhance collaboration to produce a quadrivalent vaccine with serotypes O, A, SAT-1, and SAT-2 that can curb the four strains of FMD in Uganda.

Through this arrangement, the National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO) will produce a monovalent FMD vaccine with serotype SAT-1 to be reconstituted with the trivalent vaccine from Egypt containing serotypes O, A, and SAT-2, to have a complete quadrivalent vaccine.

The Egyptian delegation with Ugandan officials at the function

The Egyptian delegation visited the NARO laboratories at the National Livestock Resources Research Institute (NaLIRRI) in Nakyesasa in Wakiso district on Tuesday, where they assessed the readiness and capability of the facilities for joint FMD vaccine production.

They were led around by the NARO Director General, Dr. Yona Baguma, who revealed that the organisation was already equipped to do diagnostics for FMD including identifying the different strains, and efforts are on to start local production of vaccines.

Prof. Dr. Mohamed Ahmed Saad said they were impressed by the expertise of NARO scientists, and the capabilities of the laboratories, and noted that some equipment needed to be brought in, coupled with specialized training in running them, before the entire production process is done locally.

Staff Brig-Gen. Mohamed revealed that Egypt was keen on establishing a factory in Uganda to produce vaccines not just for Uganda but for the East African region as a whole.

Maj. Gen. Kasura-Kyomukama, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry, and Fisheries, noted that there was a need for local production of the vaccine since the country requires up to 88 million doses each year. 

He assured the country that all efforts are being made to ensure that the current outbreak is contained and the threat eliminated in the long run. 

The vaccines arriving in the country will add to the 900,000 doses of Foot and Mouth Disease vaccines that were dispatched to 46 districts two weeks ago.

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