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CoronaVirus Uganda

CiplaQCIL to manufacture Malaria drug in response to government’s COVID-19 request

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Nevin Bradford,the CEO Cipla Quality Chemical Industries Limited.

Nevin Bradford,the CEO Cipla Quality Chemical Industries Limited.

By Our Reporter

With the global outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) is conducting a global clinical trial, called SOLIDARITY, to identify possible treatment options for this contagious disease.

The malaria treatment, hydroxychloroquine is one of the four drugs being used in the trial. The Ministry of Health in Uganda has proposed using hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 patients in the country.

Hydroxychloroquine is also currently used to treat autoimmune diseases, such as systemic lupus erythematosus and rheumatoid arthritis .

Uganda currently has recorded over 200 COVID-19 positive cases. There have been no deaths identified as a result of the virus in the country and 65 patients have recovered. Hydroxychloroquine was used to treat these patients. Clarity on whether this medication had a positive impact on these patients will only be known once the SOLIDARITY trial is complete.

As part of Uganda’s COVID-19 response, His Excellency President Yoweri Museveni, President of Uganda, called Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to reach an agreement where India will expedite export 750kgs of the hydroxychloroquine active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) to CiplaQCIL to enable local production of the drug. The API is currently being exported and CiplaQCIL will start the manufacturing process within the next few days.

CiplaQCIL has already committed to locally manufacture hydroxychloroquine in line with its “Africa for Africa” strategy to meet the Ministry of Health’s and Ugandan government’s demand for this medicine.

CEO of CiplaQCIL, Nevin Bradford, said: “Caring for life is our utmost priority. We are gearing up to fast-track production of this drug to meet the estimated requirements. Naturally, we do earnestly hope that the medication will not be required as Uganda has implemented restrictions such as lockdown and a night curfew to help flatten the curve. In that case, the medicine will be used for its initially approved indications.”

CiplaQCIL is known for producing quality, affordable medication, and thereby ensuring that people have access to lifesaving medicine.

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CoronaVirus Uganda

Coca-Cola Beverages Africa donates Ugx 1.3 billion towards COVID-19 relief efforts

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By Our Reporter

Coca-Cola Beverages Africa in Uganda has handed over its contribution of UGX1.3billion with three brand new pick-up trucks added to the Ministry of Health COVID-19 fleet.

Prime Minister and Chair of the National Task Force for COVID-19, Rt. Hon. Ruhakana Rugunda, welcomed the contribution and commended Coca-Cola for being a long-standing partner with the government in health causes.

“We are grateful for your support. Coca-Cola has been a long-standing partner with us in many ways. This is further evidence that we stand together. Let’s continue the fight against COVID-19 together,” said Rt. Hon. Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda.

Conrad van Niekerk, Coca-Cola Beverages Africa Regional Managing Director in charge of Uganda, Tanzania and Ghana, stressed that the company contributions were only the first phase of the effort against COVID-19 in Uganda.

“At Coca-Cola Beverages Africa we always look for meaningful ways in which we can contribute to the local communities we serve, whether by partnering with stakeholders such as the government and NGOs or engaging in wider community causes. Our company purpose: ‘refresh the world and make a difference in the community’ is the guiding principle that drives our community outreach activities,” he said.

“Since the outbreak of the Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19) in Uganda, we have been working with the Ministry of Health to support and implement measures to curb its spread. We believe in sustainability – of business and the communities in which we operate. This is an operating ethos that we carry throughout our business every single day. As Coca-Cola, we have carried out different interventions. Apart from taking care of our staff, we have been working with different partners to support our communities in various ways,” he added.

On receiving the vehicles, Minister in charge of General Duties in the Office of the Prime Minister, Hon. Mary Karooro Okurut, emphasized that the contribution would go a long way in enabling the frontline staff to further transverse the country providing assistance and monitoring the spread of the virus.

“We are grateful to Coca-Cola for always prioritizing the wellbeing of Ugandans in the different communities across the country. A pandemic like this one calls for public-private partnerships and we have found Coca-Cola to be a reliable partner,” she said.

Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary, Dr. Diana Atwine, thanked the company for the wide range of support provided to the ministry in the fight against COVID-19, including handwashing support and public awareness.

“Your contributions will help us sink the message deep into the farthest corners of Uganda, among all the people. The catchphrase you have chosen of #StaySafeUG is very important in all our messaging, and you have truly gotten involved in this struggle through handwashing and publicity,” she said.

The Coca-Cola contribution towards curbing the COVID-19 pandemic in Uganda included a consignment of food relief worth UGX390million from The Coca-Cola Foundation, distributed through the Uganda Red Cross Society to vulnerable families affected by the lockdown. The company also donated Ush85million to the Ministry of Health to buy medical equipment and sundries.

Alongside the Ministry of Health, CCBA is currently running a handwashing intervention that involves setting up Handwashing facilities to increase public hygiene. So far, the company has erected four (4) 5,000litre Community Handwashing Tanks in Namanve, Kyambogo and Mbarara Central Market.

The company went further to manufacture Hand Sanitizer that is being distributed free of charge to select segments of society across the country, including those involved in fast-moving consumer goods wholesale and retail trading.

“We are very happy to make this contribution while working closely with different government entities in the fight against COVID-19 for the greater good. When all this passes, all that will be left will be our people, so we have to stand strong together,” van Niekerk reiterated.

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CoronaVirus Uganda

NSSF supports paying out partial contributions to members for COVID-19 relief

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NSSF Managing Director Richard Byarugaba

NSSF Managing Director Richard Byarugaba

By Our Reporter

The global outbreak of COVID-19 has disrupted all economies around the world.

This after different measures aimed at curbing its spread were implemented including a lock down which created massive economic and social challenges.

This has led sections of the general public to turn to the National Social Security Fund(NSSF) for relief,  calling for a pay out of a portion of accumulated contributions to its members.

The NSSF managing Director Richard Byarugaba, in a letter to members, has said that the Fund is in support of the public call for mid term Benefits to members.

“We have witnessed a heightened level of stress among our members that have lost means of their livelihood. This has brought to the forefront the role of NSSF to its many members,” Richard Byarugaba says in the letter. “Understandably, some politicians and sections of the general public have been calling for the Fund to pay out a portion of accumulated contributions to its members. We feel your pain and understand your outcry.”

“Following this outcry, we shared with our line Minister our understanding of the worst-case scenario of the economic implications of the proposal to pay out an unplanned 20% of the Fund to its members. We owed it to the Minister, our members and all Ugandans to be honest in the analysis to facilitate the process of making the right decisions that need to be made.Understandably, this analysis may have given a wrong impression that NSSF does not in any way support mid-term benefits. That is far from the truth.” He added

“In the final paragraph of the letter to the Minister, we reiterated our support for planned mid-term benefits, that are embedded within the NSSF Amendment Bill before Parliament. We must clarify that the current legislation, NSSF Act Cap 222, that governs the Fund’s operations does not provide for mid-term benefits and regrettably has limited our ability to offer you new benefits.” He concluded.

Meanwhile, before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Fund together with various stakeholders especially the Trade Unions proposed amendments to the NSSF Act which among other changes provides for additional benefits to the existing age benefits, invalidity benefit and survivors benefit. The proposed amendments are currently before Parliament.

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CoronaVirus Uganda

East African Business Council donates face masks to cross-border communities

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Find out information about Coronavirus in Uganda. More here.

East African Business Council (EABC) has donated Face Masks worth UGX60million to cross-border communities in Uganda.

By Our Reporter

In support of efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19, the East African Business Council (EABC) has donated Face Masks worth UGX 60 million to cross-border communities in Uganda.

The reusable Face Masks are intended to help protect over 30,000 members of communities at Uganda’s border points who at the highest risk of contracting COVID-19.

In recent weeks Uganda has recorded COVID-19 positive cases mostly from cargo truck drivers crossing the borders from within the East African Community (EAC).

While making the donation, the EABC appealed to everyone in the EAC region to avoid stigmatization of cargo truck drivers as it could lead to a break in the supply chain in the EAC, affecting trade and investment.

The EABC has approached the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) to support the distribution of the masks at the border points of Malaba, Busia, Mutukula, Katuna, Kikagate, Kagitumba, Cyanika, Elegu, Nimule, Oraba and others where cross-border activities take place.

“We trust the URA as one of the government agencies that has been central to Uganda’s success in the fight against the spread of COVID-19, and recognize the effort invested in tracking and monitoring truck drivers. We know this will support the work of the Ministry of Health and we will encourage more businesses to contribute to all government efforts against
COVID-19,” said EABC Director Stuart Mwesigwa (Roofings Group).

The communities to benefit from this consignment include customs officials, clearing agents, cross-border women traders, porters and truck drivers themselves. The masks were procured in Uganda and manufactured by Ugandan SME Chrisams Designs.

“This is an indicator that the EABC values local content in East Africa and we will actively support the development of business at all levels. We have also arranged to order similar consignments from each EAC Partner State and we urge the governments to focus on building business in East Africa,” said EABC Director Simon Kaheru (Coca-Cola Beverages Africa).

Uganda’s First Deputy Prime Minister, Gen. Moses Ali, welcomed the gesture as significant and highly meaningful.

“We are winning this war because of contributions such as these. COVID-19 is the enemy and the enemy is already squatting. Every contribution we get will help us defeat this enemy fully. It is also good to note that these Face Masks were made by a Ugandan and East African business,” said Gen. Ali.

He was flanked by Hon. Mary Karooro Okurut, Minister in charge of General Duties, and COVID-19 Task Force Chairperson Emmanuel Katongole and Member Robert Kabushenga.

The EABC has also donated masks to Rwanda Revenue Authority to aid in the fight against the Covid-19 at Rusumo One Stop Border Post, and will continue to mobilise business across the region.

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CoronaVirus Uganda

UNICEF partners with Airtel Africa to support children and families affected by COVID-19

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Find out information about Coronavirus in Uganda. More here.

Fayaz King, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director for Field Results and Innovation.

Fayaz King, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director for Field Results and Innovation.

By Our Reporter

UNICEF has partnered with Airtel Africa to provide children with access to remote learning and enable access to cash assistance for their families via mobile cash transfers.

Under this partnership, UNICEF and Airtel Africa will use mobile technology to benefit an estimated 133 million school age children currently affected by school closures in 13 countries across sub-Saharan Africa during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The adverse effects of school closures on children’s learning are well documented. Education experts warn that gains made in increasing access to learning in the previous decade are at risk of being lost, or even reversed completely. And for poor households around the world, the pandemic means a reduced or total loss of income due to the movement restrictions in place.

Remote learning, supported by digital tools, is a core part of UNICEF’s response to ensure continuity of learning for those children with access to technology at home. Airtel Africa will zero-rate select websites hosting educational content, which will provide children with remote access to digital content at no cost.

“COVID-19 is affecting access to information and education at an unprecedented scale,” said Fayaz King, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director for Field Results and Innovation. “Worldwide, most children are not in school, which we know can lead to a number of increased vulnerabilities and setbacks. UNICEF is partnering with Airtel Africa to deliver better outcomes for children and families affected by widespread closures.”

The partnership will also provide UNICEF with a means to facilitate vital cash assistance to alleviate financial barriers for some of the most vulnerable families across the region, including many affected by the growing socio-economic hardships resulting from suspension of income earning activities. This will help ensure families have additional resources to cope with the ongoing health and economic crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Some effective ways to cushion families from the effects of this crisis is through providing free Internet access to selected educational websites to help children keep up with their learning during the school closures and direct cash transfer programmes to reduce physical presence requirements for cash in hand exchanges,” said Raghunath Mandava, Airtel Africa Chief Executive Officer. “Alongside various other COVID-19 related initiatives and support that we are providing to Governments and the community, we are glad to also collaborate with UNICEF to support children.”

The partnership with Airtel Africa supports UNICEF’s Global Agenda for Action for Children. The plan outlines global actions which private and public sector partners can take to keep millions of girls and boys – including those who have been uprooted by conflict, children living with disabilities, and girls at risk of violence – healthy, safe and learning.

UNICEF and Airtel Africa’s partnership aims to benefit children and families in 13 countries in sub-Saharan Africa: Chad, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

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