In an effort to boost service delivery in the health sector, the US government through its Centres for Disease Control (CDC) has offered to sponsor the construction of a Nitrogen Manufacturing Plant at Butabika a suburb of Kampala.
The plant is estimated to cost some Ushs2bn and is expected to greatly improve disease testing across the country by making it easier for laboratories especially in upcountry areas to easily obtain Nitrogen.
According to Ministry of Health officials, previously government laboratories had to pay a substantial amount of money for Liquid Nitrogen.
Nitrogen is also essential in ensuring safer handling of vaccines for both humans and livestock.
The construction of the Nitrogen plant comes in the wake of the completion of a Calibration centre also located at the Uganda National Health Laboratory Services located at Butabika, on the outskirts of Kampala.
The calibration centre, whose construction was also sponsored by CDC and the American International Health Alliance (AIHA), is used to repair vital equipment that is used in laboratories.
Uganda has been sponsoring the training of laboratory technologists for the past one and half years by experts. Three have completed the course and will take charge of the plant.
While commissioning the new Calibration centre, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health Dr. Diana Atwine said: “This Nitrogen plant we are to construct is going help us to generate enough nitrogen. Currently, we are unable to hold properly the samples on the way to and we will be able to send samples without any worry and receive them also without any worry”
According to the PS Ministry of Health Dr. Diana Atwine, government has been losing a lot of money getting bringing in experts to repair the health equipment as well as to buy Nitrogen to fill the cylinders.
Atwine hails Americans
“There has really been a long struggle to have a calibration centre before the Nitrogen plant and I thank the partners CDC and American International Health Alliance who have freed us from the slavery of maintenance and made sure that this facility is in place.”
Dr. Isaac Ssewanyana from the Central Public Health Laboratories (CPHL), absence of liquid Nitrogen has been limiting transfer of samples from remote areas which don’t have refrigerators or freezers to keep the samples in their normal temperatures.
Dr. Steven Aisu, the Executive Director of the Uganda National Health Laboratories confirmed that establishment of necessary laboratory facilities at Butabika, Uganda no longer needs to ship samples to the India or the United States.