What’s up doc? A brief look into Parliament Report on PRESIDE and the mismanagement of COVID-I9 funds in the Republic

I like the unfortunate phenomenon of western countries halting exportation of the COVID19 vaccine until all their citizens are fully vaccinated. This will enable Africans to wake up and manufacture their own medicines. I like the bad things because Africans sleep too much, I have never believed in dependency. This selfishness in the world is bad but it’s a shame that the whole of the African continent is asleep waiting to be saved by others… In the short run, we shall see who can sell COVID19 vaccines to us. As far as Uganda is concerned, I assure you, we will never again be in such a situation, we are making our own vaccine” – President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni (27.06.2021).

Another day, another Parliament Report exposing the rot of the Government. A government that isn’t follow the laws, codes and protocols of the republic. Direct Presidential Directives which have no barring and to ambition to be achieved. Neither was there anywhere close to be legit research or able to fulfil it’s mission.

The State House and Ministries clearly miscalculated their abilities and the promise of the project. Neither did it have the scientists or the manpower to do it. There was not enough time or enough research spaces to make it happen. The budgets was to slim and there was also spending unaccounted for. A sort of troubling project, which is meant to fail. A spending spree without any accountability or transparency. A money pit without without any sort of proof of value for money. The PRESIDE and associated projects was bound to fail. The Parliamentary reports published today is called: “REPORT OF THE SELECT COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY AND INNOVATION ON COVID-19 RELATED RESEARCH FOR FY 2019/20 TO FY 202/22”.

This report is a story of how a President and the State House directs, implement and execute without proper planning or direction for that matter. It is just headache and shows what sort of enterprise the whole COVID-19 vaccine programme PRESIDE was and that’s why the quotes of this report is so explicit.

It is a total utter failure and the President is implicated it, as it is his directive and run directly from the State House. This wasn’t a Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development (MOFPED) or Ministry of Health. No, this was an affair out of the State House and shows how it goes. Done without being bound by law or done correctly. That’s why this was bound to fail, which it did.

Just read these quotes from the report to get the gist:

In his statement, he indicated that up to UGX. 20bn had been drawn from the consolidated fund for scientists under PRESIDE to manufacture a COVID-I9 vaccine and an additional UGX. 50bn was drawn on 2021 for PRESIDE, and yet supervising Ministry (Ministry of Science, Technolory and Innovation) had been disbanded. He further questioned the legality of the Presidential Scientific Initiative on Epidemics (PRESIDE), queried its staffing, operations and whether its premises in Ntinda that had no laboratories would be able to produce a vaccine” (May 2022 report).

Overall funding for COVID- 19 research was as follows:

– UGX. 5.3bn for PRESIDE FY 2019/20

– UGX. 31.03bn for projects under PRESIDE, UGX. 3.35bn for PRESIDE secretariat operations, and UGX. 2.74bn under NRIP in FY2020/2l

– UGX. 25bn for project operations, a supplementary request of UGX. 50.4bn for a manufacturing plant and UGX. 27bn for additional operational funds for PRESIDE projects in FY 2021/22” (May 2022 report).

A total of (seventeen) 17 projects (Project l-17) was presented before Parliament with a total budget of UGX. 25bn, for implementation in FY2021/22. When additional funds of UGX. 27bn became available through a supplementary budget, the total number of projects raised to 27, where 10 new projects (Projects 18-27) were introduced and two of the already approved projects i.e. (projects 6 (Immune Therapy – Convalescent plasma). and 14 (Herbal Products for Management of COVID-19) were dropped. The Committee found that the two projects should have been given funds for implementation whether there was a supplementary or not since their budgets had already been approved by Parliament in the Ministerial Policy Statement. No reasons were given for their exclusion” (May 2022 report).

The Committee while interacting with the petitioner was informed that PRESIDE was a company formed by Dr. Monica Musenero and some of her family members including her husband. These allegations were disputed by Hon. Musenero, who informed the Committee that PRESIDE is neither an organtzation nor a company but a project under State House” (…) However, the Committee noted that the establishment of PRESIDE violates governance rules, as it has no legal status. The initiative has not been incorporated in accordance with the laws of Uganda. Therefore it is not a legal entity. The Committee also observed from the concerned officials that no steps had been taken to have it legally established” (May 2022 report).

Although PRESIDE was established with a visionary mandate, to be a vehicle to spear the pathogen economy, it has been mired with mismanagement, poor accountability practices and overall poor planning. At its inception, Government failed to define its legality, failed to analyze and optimize the structures that were already in place and build on these as a way of driving the pathogen economy forward. This went against the current government policy on rationalization and improvement of efficiencies within MDAs. The role of UNHRO, MoSTI, UNCST as regulators was usurped and replaced with PRESIDE which had a temporary supervisory framework in form of a MoU. With the expiry of the MoU, PRESIDE as a project remained operational yet not supervised because its Chairperson is the Minister responsible for the docket of STI and also the Special Presidential Advisor on Epidemics” (May 2022 report).

Reading a report like this is shattering. It just shows how the state is mismanaging funds and how the State House isn’t preparing things ahead. The whole PRESIDE shows how a Presidential Directive is put into life, but never able to implement, because the state doesn’t have the funds, manpower or the facilities to do it. The PRESIDE is an utter failure…

The National Resistance Movement (NRM) was all talk, but no business. They can start-up organizations and projects, but they have no plans of the implementation or protocols to ensure it is successful. PRESIDE is a proof on how not to run a project… as it has had no plan or any sort of proof that it would actually manage the mission from the on-set.

The ones that believes the NRM would be able to produce a COVID-19 vaccine was day-dreaming, because the whole PRESIDE can be seen as a nightmare. The ones running it should be ashamed and it was a waste of government funding. Nothing to show for it and only a name-tag, which runs back to the State House and the Presidential Directive. A

All of it is a waste … the President should be held to account as he ushered it in and it did nothing. They will fault everyone, but if it wasn’t for him… this mess wouldn’t exist and the report wouldn’t have been published either.

The PRESIDE should be lectured at Makerere University or something in how not to run things and be a case-study in bad-governance. This is a proof of how not to govern and nothing was done correctly. That’s why it deserve to be acknowledged and used as a learning experience. Since, the next government could do another properly and actually achieve something worthwhile. Peace.

Getafix of Mbarara: COVIDEX is selling hope in the middle of despair…

Now, it is official and its sold in pharmacies across Kampala, as the pandemic is surging and people are hanging on to whatever they can get to get some remedy and treatment for the coronavirus or COVID-19. This is not shocking, but a sad reality.

There is now a new hack in town. A Mbarara Professor Patrick Ogwang Engeu was has created his own mixture called “COVIDEX”. He is selling this blend and herbal mixture with the belief that it helps and treats the virus.

This isn’t the first of its kind. Only in January 2021 the President and his Presidential Scientific Initiative on Epidemics (PRESIDE) launched the mysterious UBV-01N. However, that one has later never been heard off.

What is striking is the Professor Ogwang Engeu have created other medicine already, but that doesn’t mean he has found the solution now as well. We don’t know the mixture, neither does we know what the dosage entails. It could be a placebo affect and a lie. Water with some colour or whatnot. It is a profitable business selling medicine and the Professor knows that.

By all means, I hope COVIDEX works. However, there been other things before. That has used herbal extractions from plants like Artemesia, Artemesia Annua and Stevia. We don’t know what he is using or have blended together.

We should all be reminded about the miracle drink from Madagascar, CVO – Tambvy who was sold internationally without being properly tested. The same is now happening locally with COVIDEX.

What the Professor is doing?

His selling hope. His selling these medical treatment on the whim and the hope that it works. It might do so, but without proper procedures and without proper testing of the herbal medicine. It is all baseless claims and without proof. We don’t know what it does or doesn’t do.

When there is no proof, no evidence or even what is the main components of the medicine. It is hard to believe that it does anything. There is no proof and nothing that says so. The medicine might work, but the Professor should have ensured it was tested and accepted by the National Drug Authority (NDA). Not just sell it on the open market without any certification or license to sell it.

For now, this is selling a dream, which could end up in a nightmare. This is making yourself a fortune on the gullible and the ones who needs hope in despair. That is tragic. Peace.

Getafix of Kampala: The launch of UBV-01N

In April 2020 Madagascar President Andry Rajoelina launched his herbal and natural remedy to the Coronavirus or COVID-19. That wasn’t clinically tested or proven to have any effects towards the virus. I wouldn’t mind if it did work. It had some natural components, which is known to have effect in concern to malaria, but to this day… there haven’t been any study or anything that proved that the Madagascar herbal tea had any substantial remedy towards it.

So, why do I mention this today? Well, today … President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni launches UBV-01N from the Presidential Scientific Initiative on Epidemics (PRESIDE). It will now be clinically tested. However, I smell the same as Yester-year and I wish it wasn’t so. Not that I don’t want remedies or drugs working against the virus. However, this sort of play seems like a game of propaganda.

It is like we are supposed to forget about the Tambvy filled with herbal remedies of Stevia and Artemesia, Artemesia Annua, which didn’t work. So, what sort of herbal mixture does the Ugandans have that the Madagascar scientists didn’t have? I wonder, because they are so numb to the vital factors of the pills or potion. We don’t know that and there is no list of ingredients. I don’t expect to get a fixed list like when you make a pizza margarita, but I do expect to know at least the two main components of the remedy. Because, there are medical and pharmaceutical books where they explain the usage of certain plants and other traditional herbal remedies. Therefore, if they are scientifically doing this. Then, they should be transparent about that.

This is a natural product and means another herbal medicine. The ones calling this a vaccine is wrong. That is another type of medication and shouldn’t get it twisted. The UBV-01N will help the virus from spreading and hopefully help you cope with the virus. Maybe even strengthening your immune-system, but it will not fully cure you from it. A herbal medicine will strengthen your body and help your system to handle the disease, but not “kill it”.

By all means the President wants this to be successful. Just like the counterpart in Madagascar wanted in 2020. We are seeing similar efforts. Soon in Pan-African spirit someone will praise this and by this in bulk. Even when there is no proof, because this is an answer to Western medicine. Western medicine is based on not only scientific practices, but also on remedies made by plants and such. So, I just hope it won’t be biased. Every sort of effort to help the global pandemic is cool and a good in itself. However, I lack trust to the ideals and the possible effects. Especially, when they are not dropping the basics even.

There should be some authorities and associations who should study the components of the medicine itself. Where they release the important factors and what its made off, which is vital. Because, if we know what is components. Then we can check what the herbs have been used against before and what scientific research on these. This would direct us and show what direction the Ugandan scientists have in this manner.

So, as long as I cannot check the vital parts of the remedy. I have a hard time trusting the usage or the promotion of the clinical test of it. The studies of this herbal or natural drug should be released. The sheet of ingredients. That would prove the values and the ones studying it could verify it. Just like I could do with Tambwy of Madagascar. There you could check the two main components and could question the use of it against COVID-19.

The same is needed with UBV-01N. Peace.

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