- The Institute was started in 1950s and the civil strive and wars made it to nearly get closed, but work continued with the inadequate staff and equipment
- The station has made a huge contribution in managing outbreaks of Plague that were common in Arua and Zombo districts
- The rehabilitation and upgrading of the Virus Institute was funded by Defense Threat Reduction Agency and US Center for Disease Control through the American government
- So far, the UVRI is investigating four Viruses that have been discovered in the region which include Sunguru Virus, (2014), South Sudan Uganda (Sosuga) virus discovered in 2015 and Adumi Virus that was discovered in 2017
Arua- Uganda and the US government have rehabilitated the Virus Research Institute in Arua to strengthen surveillance as four types of Virus have been found in the Sub-region.
The four Viruses, that are still undergoing research and studies are mainly found in Arua district as they pose a threat to human life.
Speaking at the commissioning of the Regional Institute at Anyafio, the Director for Uganda Virus Research Institute, Prof Pontiano Kaleebu, said: “We are happy that the station is reactivated. The work on diagnostics, disease surveillance, interventions and working with communities. Engaging traditional healers, village health teams in order to reduce burden of disease especially plague where the station made a lot of achievements.”
“This station is becoming more relevant because of emerging and re-emerging infections and zoonotic diseases. It is well located between DRC, South Sudan. We have refugees, we have people moving across the borders. This is station is very important and I hope and sure it will make more contribution as we move ahead.”
The Permanent Secretary in Ministry of Health, Dr Diana Atwine, and other officials listens to an explanation. Photo by Felix
The Chief of the Office of Security Cooperation at US Embassy, Maj Miller Michael, said: “This is a partnership for future collaboration. US government and ongoing collaboration and UVRI is a recognition of Uganda’s leadership on infectious diseases and public health awareness. The challenge we face is translating the knowledge that is gained from facilities like this for our communities that will use. We face the same challenges of new diseases that will be discovered here.”
Dr Diana Atwine, the Permanent Secretary in Ministry of Health, said: “We are grateful for the strategic role UVRI is playing to contribute to sciences. Having this lab and scaling up the services that it can do not only in research and helping us to diagnose areas of epidemics and also surveillance. We believe, we can do more and can help our country. If we have more research programs here, this can sustain this institution.”
She proposed that: “It is in a strategic location for these three countries. We should give a window for private services, if for example South Sudan has a sample that it wants to test, still this laboratory can be used. South Sudan can come here and pay for the services and do the tests. We need to look at avenues that can generate income to sustain this facility and also expand.”
The Assistant District Health Officer, Mr Manasse Anziku, said: “We had difficult time treating Plague in the communities. The last cases of Plague was reported three years ago. This will help us in having quick diagnosis and management of any type of virus when it is detected earlier in laboratory. We used to send the samples to Entebbe, which usually took long for results to reach us and how to manage the diseases.”