UGANDA—Uganda has taken proactive steps to address biorisks and regulate dual-use research, establishing itself as a leader in the WHO African Region by piloting the Global Guidance Framework for the Responsible Use of Life Sciences.

The Uganda Office of the Prime Minister, in conjunction with the World Health Organization, has championed this critical project, which recognizes its relevance in strengthening national and regional biosecurity.

Since October 2023, tremendous progress has been made, including the hosting of national stakeholder engagement workshops.

A critical stakeholders’ workshop to pilot the framework was organized from November 21 to 23, 2023, and over 80 stakeholders from diverse sectors participated.

The event aimed to increase awareness and promote collaborative development of a draft roadmap for applying the framework in Uganda.

Following this, a technical stakeholders’ workshop was held on March 6-7, 2024, to increase awareness and strategic planning.

Over 30 technical specialists identified key stakeholder responsibilities and modified the draft roadmap to ensure the framework’s successful implementation.

A high-level stakeholders’ sensitization meeting on March 15, 2024, was a watershed moment in Uganda’s commitment.

Over 50 high-level stakeholders, including government officials, institutional heads, and WHO representatives, attended the meeting, which aimed to argue for ownership, national buy-in, and support for the framework’s implementation.

During the meeting, Uganda’s Honourable Minister of Science, Technology, and Innovation, Dr. Monica Musenero, reiterated the country’s commitment to piloting the framework.

Dr. Musenero emphasized the necessity of strong biosafety, biosecurity, and dual-use research governance, linking Uganda’s efforts to its goals for sustainable development and global health security.

Dr. Daniel Kyabayinze, Director of Public Health at Uganda’s Ministry of Health, reaffirmed this commitment, emphasizing the framework’s significance in encouraging ethical research practices in the face of health concerns such as COVID-19.

Dr. Andrew Niwagaba Bakainaga, WHO representative, stressed the framework’s potential to improve research governance, ethics, and transparency.

These remarks together emphasized Uganda’s commitment to promote responsible life science usage through collaboration and innovation.

The seminar included a number of context-setting presentations, including a review of Uganda’s biosafety, biosecurity, and dual-use research governance capability, laws, and regulations.

Following the conference, the Minister of Science, Technology, and Innovation committed to leading the framework’s domestication and operationalization in Uganda.

The government’s top scientist, in partnership with the Uganda National Council of Science and Technology (UNCST), was tasked with providing technical leadership in this process, with the Office of the Prime Minister serving as the overall coordinator.

The agreed-upon next steps include sensitizing relevant ministries at a government cabinet meeting, aligning project implementation with UNCST, defining roles and responsibilities in the final roadmap, holding bilateral meetings with key stakeholders, and documenting and disseminating Uganda’s experience piloting the framework.

For all the latest healthcare industry news from Africa and the World, subscribe to our NEWSLETTER, and YouTube Channel, follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn, and like us on Facebook.