The Ugandan government has gifted the man who developed Covidex, a local herbal medicine approved for use as supporting treatment for Covid-19, with land and a ten-year tax holiday.
Prof Patrick Ogwang, a Ugandan pharmacologist, received five acres of land.
The country's state minister for investment, Ms Evelyn Anite, announced the decision saying the move will help Prof Ogwang expand his production factory.
“The fact that Prof Ogwang has obtained this investment licence qualifies him to get land, and because he has expressed interest to to put up a factory. Owing to the fact that the natural resources for this factory are majorly found in the eastern part of the country, we as government have decided to give him 5 acres of land in Soroti Industrial park,” she said.
“We are going to support all our scientists because this is the only way to develop a pathogenic economy,” she added.
The handover of the licence happened at the Uganda Investment Authority headquarters in Kampala.
It comes about a month after the National Drug Authority approved Covidex for use as supportive treatment for viral diseases including Covid-19.
Prof Ogwang thanked the government for the gesture and revealed that factory expansion works at Soroti Industrial Park will begin in three months. Covidex is currently being manufactured from a small factory in Entebbe.
The minister also issued a warning to those trying to sue Prof Ogwang over ownership of the the drug, noting that President Yoweri Museveni is leading the arbitration between the Professor and Mbarara University.
“The President asked Mbarara University to stop the legal gymnastics and concentrate on treating Ugandans. In addition to that, Prof Ogwang said they had already resolved the impasse with Mbarara University and those that have gone to court are on their own.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recently expressed concern over Uganda's approval of the herbal treatment.
The global health body said it had consulted researchers from nine African countries, including Uganda, on the use of traditional medicine to treat coronavirus infections. However, it noted, Covidex was not among the drugs that were evaluated.
Uganda’s drug authority, however, previously reassured members of the public that Jena Herbals Limited had published safety studies before it approved the drug.
Report by Tonny Abet and Stephen Otage