The World Health Organisation (WHO) has donated 2,400 monkeypox test kits to Uganda to help in its response against the spread of the infectious disease.
The WHO also accredited three labs — the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI), National Health Laboratory Services, and another under the US Department of Defense — to carry out the tests.
While receiving the kits in Kampala on Tuesday, Health minister Dr Jane Ruth Aceng said the donation would strengthen Uganda’s surveillance.
“We have been carrying out tests for monkeypox. In the beginning, we were taking tests to South Africa as we run the race to make sure that the cartridges are available in Uganda,” she said.
She added: “Subsequently, the department of defence of the US government brought in the cartridges and we started testing in-country as we wait for WHO to accredit the laboratories that would test so that our results are internationally recognised.”
To date, the country has carried out more than 70 tests for the monkeypox virus, and all have turned out negative, meaning the disease has not been detected in Uganda.
“We do not have any case of monkeypox in the country. However, that is not to say we are not worried. We border the DR Congo, which has been having cases of monkeypox for the last 10 years. And we trade with DRC and we have relatives in DRC,” she said.
WHO declared the outbreak of monkeypox, a disease which is ravaging non-endemic countries, a public health emergency of international concern.
“Uganda has labs that are capable of doing the tests and under the guidance of UVRI, this will be put to good use. It is important to have the surveillance to prevent monkeypox,” WHO Representative to Uganda, Dr. Yonas Tegegn Woldemariam, said after donating the test kits.