Prof. Patrick Ogwang, the creator of Covidex, a drug said to treat Covid-19 has said his main goal is to ensure the biggest percentage of medicines sold in Uganda are herbal.
The National Drug Authority(NDA) last month cleared Covidex, a locally made herbal medicine as a supportive treatment for Covid-19 but also allowed Jena Herbals Limited, a company owned by Prof. Ogwang to produce the medicine.
Speaking on Wednesday after securing an investment licence and five acres of land in Soroti Industrial Park for the Covidex factory, Prof. Ogwang said he has invested a lot in research for herbal medicine in the past 17 years, noting that with the factory, he can achieve more.
“In the last 17 years, I have put a lot of investment in using my brain. All the salaries I got were invested in research as it would benefit a lot. I have developed almost 15 formulas in last 17 years,” Prof. Ogwang said.
He said whereas people know only Covidex but there are many formulae that he has developed over the years that he noted will slowly come to be known.
“When I went to China sometime back, I found 95% of medicines in their pharmacies are herbal. That is what we want to see here. We want to reverse it that when you walk into a pharmacy, you find Ugandan herbal medicine.”
Prof. Ogwang said research indicates that Uganda imports medicines worth shs4 trillion but noted this can be changed as the country starts producing its own herbal medicines.
“That is the money we contribute to outsiders. Jena Industries wants to contribute to a reduction on these statistics and grow this economy. There is nothing we luck in this country. No one will develop this county for us but ourselves.”
Speaking about his meetings with President Museveni, the Covidex creator said he has learnt a lot from him in as far as solving problems, noting that he is riding on the same rhythm.
“As the president said, when a disease comes like Ebola or Covid came, it is an opportunity. Whenever you see a problem, think about a solution you can provide to solve it. Let us use this opportunity of Covid to develop something to sell to the world. I am sure Coidex is going to Europe and America,”Ogwang said.
He noted that with land given to him for a factory, he will now move away from the small laboratory he was using to manufacture Covidex drug to bigger premises.
Speaking at the function, Morrison Rwakakamba, the chairman board of directors for Uganda Investment Authority said Covidex provides a big chance for the country to benefit from its pathogenic economy.
“As Ugandans, we have to support the pathogenic economy. If Prof. Ogwang’s Covidex was somewhere else, it could already have been approved by World Health Organization. It is us to support our local innovators and make them scale up. Covidex should be a global product,”Rwakakamba said.
President Museveni earlier this month said whereas Africa’s pathogenic economy offers huge economic opportunities, it is being taken advantage off by others.
“The economy of diseases, germs protozoa etc all those health problems to us are also economic opportunities being taken advantage of by others. Africans are totally absent. That is why we have a shortage of vaccines in the whole of Africa,”Museveni said while laying a foundation stone for the multibillion Biological Drugs and mRNA Vaccine Manufacturing Facility at Matuga-Wakiso District.
“One of the things they were looking for was the green monkey cells which can grow well for the virus-like corona. My people have been looking for them but they were nowhere even in South Africa, Morocco, Egypt nothing. They had to go somewhere. Other people took them and multiplied them. Africa has got everything but is simply sleeping.”