Gulu University is yet to receive funding from the government to support the clinical trials for Covilyce-1, a supportive herbal treatment for COVID-19. This comes nearly eight months after President, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni authorized the release of Shillings 3.7 billion to support the clinical trials for Covilyce-1.
The president had met Dr. Alice Veronica Lamwaka, the lead inventor of the herbal concoction at State House in Entebbe last year. Dr. Lamwaka and a team of scientists at Gulu University Faculty of Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical Studies (Pharm-Biotech) say the herbal remedy clears COVID-19 symptoms within 12 to 72 hours.
While meeting a select Committee of Parliament on Science, Technology, and innovation at Gulu University’s Multifunctional Laboratory on Monday, Dr. Lamwaka, said no money has been remitted to the University.
The committee led by its vice Chairperson Tony Awany, the Nwoya County legislator were at the University to investigate the alleged mismanagement of funds for the development of therapeutics and diagnostics. Other committee members were Xavier Kyooma, the Committee Chairperson, and Paul Omara, the Otuke County legislator.
In a written statement presented to the committee, Dr. Lamwaka noted that Gulu University was set to conduct clinical trials for the herbal COVID-19 treatment but lacked the funds to proceed. She notes that the clinical trial protocol of the University was already circulating amongst concerned stakeholders but awaits the development of a reasonable work plan and budget from the Directorate of planning.
“As Gulu University, we are now set for clinical trials but we lack funding. You all note (sic) that H.E the President of the Republic of Uganda made a pledge of 3.7 billion, however to date we have not received any single coin apart from a promissory note,” Her statement reads in part.
She says that despite the fact that anecdotal evidence showed that the University heavily supported curbing the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country, there was a lack of due attention to her research by the government.
Gulu University Vice-Chancellor Prof. George Openjuru Ladaah reiterated that despite a letter written by the President on August 22, 2021, to the Minister for Science, Technology, and Innovation, Dr Monica Musenero, they haven’t received the money.
Awany says their finding at the University shows a selective allocation of projects under the Presidential Scientific Initiative on Epidemics (PRESIDE) in which Gulu University hasn’t benefited despite having an organized Laboratory.
Awany says the committee, which finalized its investigations with Gulu University, after visiting Busitemaand Makerere Universities will sit for an exit meeting before presenting their report in Parliament with recommendations.
The select committee was formed by the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Anita Among in November last year to probe claims that Dr Musenero mismanaged Shillings 31 billion meant for the research and development of the COVID-19 vaccine.
It followed revelations by Ntungamo Municipality legislator Yona Musinguzi alleging that Dr Musenero misused the funds meant for the development of COVID-19 vaccines.