In the midst of despair from most Ugandans, while covid-19 ravaged, tearing people from their loved ones and impoverishing us as bills hit the roof yet those who were paid for had to be buried anyway, Prof Patrick Ogwang produced a magical product- COVIDEX.
The medicine from kumam (he says it has been labeled so by the fountain of honor), is an herbal or local supplement that helps in covid-19 and several have given testimony regarding its capacity to cure the virus or at the very least give enough medical hope for whoever is towards the evening of their hospital admission.
It was/is a major relief economically, as it costs Shs35,000 a bottle if one intends to sell it at a reap-off price! This is a yawning difference from the unbelievable bills hospitals have been slapping on dead bodies, leaving aggrieved families stuck and cursing.
During national prayers at State House Entebbe, the supreme mufti Sheik Ramadhan Mubajje said if he saw such bills for any of his kin, he would ‘donate’ that body to the hospital and imagine they drowned in the river.
Mubajje’s words were a direct feeling of the common man, a staggering Shs100m to withdraw a dead body from hospital bedsheets would be twice painful, a million times disturbing.
In the midst of all the despair though, Prof Ogwang, with the material and moral support of President Museveni was able to deliver the country from the financial jaws of hospitals with the stepped-up production of COVIDEX.
And then before even the Kumam drug reaches Kumam land, William Alenyo, a lawyer has dashed to court to unsettle Prof Ogwang.
Alenyo is acting together with the Christian Chamber of Commerce, Agriculture, Industry, Trade, and Tourism and they state that Prof Ogwang is a public servant paid by the government, developed covidex using government facilities at Mbarara university and so the final product is government property.
These also accuse the government of failing to own the product and allow Ogwang to use his company Jenal Herbals Limited to sell and collect monies from the sale of covidex yet that money is supposed to go to the government consolidated fund.
While launching a pharmaceutical plant in Matugga recently, president Museveni gave kudos to Prof Ogwang for bringing solutions to Africa through making the most of use of our biodiversity.
Museveni added that Prof Ogwang manufactured “something for Covid” and it is” not for his own good but “for the community”.
Prof Ogwang has also time and again insisted he would not want to exploit the community financially and stuck at a factory price just slightly above a dollar- Indeed God Bless Ogwang.
And while I for one (and I believe many others out there) do not really care that Ogwang is benefiting from the Shs5000 he is selling a Covidex bottle, I find it unsettling that Alenyo and crew are not letting him have the peace to produce more content for our medical need.
In times like this, this learned friend should spare us the trivialities of who should own the drug or its financial proceeds and instead allow help support the producers who have been asking for capacity to expand production.
Honestly, our biggest problem as wanainchi at this moment is not who owns the drug, not even who is earning from it, we just want to see more bottles, we may not even live to see who won the case!
In that case, therefore, whoever is dragging Prof Ogwang to court is unsettling him and should be ready to produce more covidex bottles.
The writer is a civil servant.