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Minister for Africa hails UK and Uganda co-operation in fighting infectious diseases

The UK Minister for Africa Harriett Baldwin has visited the Medical Research Council/Uganda Virus Research Institute and London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine Research Unit in Entebbe, hailing the historical and strong collaboration between the UK and Ugandan governments.
Geoffrey Odoch, a Lab Technician at the MRC/UVRI & LSHTM Uganda Research Unit removes frozen samples from storage in liquid nitrogen in the Unit's biohazard level 3 laboratories. Credit: Magdalena Bondos

Established under an agreement between the Ugandan and the British Governments in 1988, the Unit is at the forefront of research on HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases including the Ebola virus.

The Unit formally joined LSHTM on 1 February 2018, strengthening scientific collaboration, creating new career opportunities for researchers and boosting research capacity into current and emerging health issues in Africa and throughout the world.

Minister for Africa Harriett Baldwin said: “I am delighted to visit the Uganda Virus Research Institute to see the successes that have resulted from a 30-year partnership between the UK and Uganda on research into HIV and related diseases. The new partnership between the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and the Centre shows the very best of UK expertise helping to prevent deadly diseases in both the world’s poorest regions and at home.”

While visiting the Unit the Minister announced, in collaboration with Uganda’s Ministry of Health and channelled through four UN agencies, that the UK will support Uganda’s National Task Force with £5.1 million of funding for Ebola preparedness and prevention efforts in Uganda. This funding will support surveillance in high-risk districts at the border with DRC, risk reduction communication amongst communities, infection prevention and control measures as well as provide for improved case management.

UK Minister for Africa visiting the Unit. Credit: British High Commission, Kampala.
UK Minister for Africa visiting the Unit. Credit: British High Commission, Kampala.

Professor Pontiano Kaleebu, Director of the MRC/UVRI and LSHTM Uganda Research Unit, said:  “The visit today of the UK Minister for Africa Harriett Baldwin shows the importance of the UK partnership, collaboration and funding UVRI has had over the years. We join others to thank the UK Government for the additional funding of £5.1 million towards Uganda’s Ebola preparedness efforts.”

The UK government and World Health Organisation judge Uganda’s current preparedness efforts to be strong. However, the risk of the disease spreading beyond the border from DRC is high and the funding will support timely interventions to strengthen screening at points of entry including the Entebbe international airport.