Uganda’s President, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, has urged local scientists to accelerate efforts in developing an HIV/AIDS vaccine. His call to action came during the 30th Anniversary celebration of the Joint Clinical Research Center (JCRC), where he served as the Chief Guest.
President Museveni emphasized the crucial role of vaccines in combating epidemics. He expressed his surprise that progress in developing an HIV/AIDS vaccine has been relatively slow, considering previous optimism in the field. He alluded to earlier efforts to understand the virus’s mutations and the potential for a common denominator in its variants.
He noted the transformative impact of vaccines on past health crises, such as the eradication of smallpox, which was achieved through vaccination. President Museveni challenged scientists to play an active role in addressing health challenges rather than waiting for external solutions.
During the event, President Museveni inaugurated the first-ever bone marrow transplant center at the JCRC headquarters. He also laid the foundation stone for a new cell and gene therapy center.
President Museveni acknowledged the importance of genetic engineering and biotechnology, stating that these methods have been used by cattle keepers for years. He emphasized the need to dispel concerns that such practices interfere with the work of God, emphasizing their contributions to selective breeding in cattle.
The JCRC’s bone marrow transplant center will offer a cost-effective alternative to conducting transplants abroad. Additionally, the center aims to advance gene therapy, which involves modifying genes within the body to treat or prevent diseases.
The President commended the partners that have collaborated with the JCRC to promote research and clinical development in Uganda. Notable partners include the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
As part of the celebration, President Museveni presented awards to individuals who have made significant contributions to the JCRC’s mission. The former Prime Minister, Rt. Hon. Amama Mbabazi, the former Deputy Chief Justice of Uganda, His Lordship Steven Kavuma, Dr. Crispus Kiyonga, Justice Epelu Opio, and Mr. Ben Luwum were among the awardees.
Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng, Uganda’s Minister of Health, expressed her gratitude to President Museveni for his dedication to the fight against HIV/AIDS in Uganda. She commended his commitment to ending AIDS by 2030 and his vision for a healthier, more productive population.
Dr. Aceng highlighted the impact of the multi-sectoral approach and collaboration with development partners in improving HIV/AIDS statistics in Uganda. She praised the JCRC for its contributions to research and clinical efforts in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
The President’s call for the acceleration of an HIV/AIDS vaccine and his support for medical research underscore Uganda’s commitment to addressing critical health challenges in the region. The JCRC has played a pivotal role in pioneering HIV treatment and continues to lead in research and clinical development.