KAMPALA —President Yoweri Museveni on Saturday, December 11 launched East African Medical Vitals; Africa’s 1st surgical and medical gloves manufacturing factory.
East African Medical Vitals (EAMV) is the leading medical consumables manufacturing firm in Africa providing long – term, sustainable access to high quality, safe and affordable medical consumables. East African Medical Vitals (EAMV), a local Ugandan company that manufactures high quality, latex, powder-free medical gloves (examination and surgical), vital medical consumables in health facilities.
The launch was also attended by Hon Evelyn Anite – State Minister of Finance in charge of Investment and Privatization, Ministers Hon Mwebesa Francis and Hon. David Bahati – from the Ministry of Trade Industry and Cooperatives.
The COVID-19 pandemic exposed Africa’s insufficient capacity to manufacture and supply essential drugs and personal protective equipment (PPEs). Africa imports more than 80% of its pharmaceutical and medical consumables, it’s also noteworthy that Africa imports 100% of its surgical & medical gloves.
‘I congratulate Mr Ben Kavuya and Brian Kavuya upon putting up this great initiative. As a Government we shall buy these Ugandan made gloves from you and support you. We shall also protect you from cheap imports that have flooded the market,’ said the President as he opened the factory.
The President also directed the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives and the Ministry of Agriculture to find land to facilitate the growing of rubber which is an essential raw material for production of medical supplies.
“The Minister of Industry should be in touch with Agriculture about the growing of rubber. Because, this is the linkage – the rubber which is agriculture, links up with the oil industry, the factory links up with the health sector etc,” Museveni said. In his guidance, President Museveni said rubber growing would save a lot of money that has been going out in importation of medical supplies and also raw materials.
‘We have always spoken about an integrated economy. Before today, the health sector was integrated with foreign economies, we imported everything from medicine to medical supplies. I am happy that today, with the launch, we have this integration happening locally – we have super quality gloves made here in Uganda. This means that our health sector can integrate with the manufacturing sector. This is very good for the growth of our country,’ the President added.
“This is an effort to promote import substitution. Stop buying from others what you can make yourself, “ The President said as shared on the ills of Uganda’s health being significantly dependent on foreign markets and economies.
In May 2021, a resolution was presented at the World Health Assembly titled, ‘Strengthening Local Production of Medicines and Other Health Technologies to Improve Access.’ This resolution covers strengthening local production, promoting technology transfers and innovation and considering the agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights and intellectual property rights through the lens of boosting local production. The resolution was co-sponsored by more than 100 WHO Member States, including 54 African countries, Uganda being one of them. The launch of EAMV is in support of that global resolution.
In 2007, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (now the African Union Development Agency, AUDA-NEPAD) sought to address Africa’s overreliance on imports of pharmaceutical products when it developed the Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Plan for Africa (PMPA), as mandated in the Assembly of AU heads of state decision of 2005.
In 2012, the Assembly of Heads of State endorsed a PMPA business plan which consists of a package of technical solutions to some of the critical challenges confronting the continent’s pharmaceutical industry. To boost local pharmaceutical production and in turn improve public health outcomes, the PMPA business plan strongly encourages the procurement of medical products from Africa-based companies
In setting up the East African Medical Vitals, the entrepreneurs at EAMV are responding to an African call for Africans, to become more self-reliant and to shape their destiny and secure their health and well-being.
As EAMV opened its doors for business, the company is steadfast in waging a ceaseless war against infection and disease transmission, to battle that which causes despair and preventable disease. EAMV is aware that they are for the first interventions and last stands, vital in the never-ending crusade to guarantee good health.
During the launch, the company shared that they had gotten the following certifications, namely;
1. National Drug Authority – Certificate of Suitability of Premises for manufacturing
2. National Drug Authority – License to manufacture medical devices
3. National Drug Authority – Good Manufacturing Practice Certificate
4. Uganda National Bureau of Standards Product Certifications (Q-Mark for all EAMV products)
5. National Environmental Management Authority – License to operate a medical consumables factory.
6. National Environmental Management Authority – License to operate a waste treatment plan for a medical consumables factory
The first two products that are available today include:
1. Surgical gloves – This category of gloves is used for medical surgeries in theatres during instances such as child birth. The single-use sterile disposable surgical gloves are latex, powder-free, designed with curved fingers to ensure they are a perfect fit, thus providing adequate protection to those in the theater, including the surgical staff and patients. They are manufactured under ISO:13485 quality management systems to meet applicable ASTM and ISO specifications. These standards are global and best practice for medical devices.
- Examination gloves – Our single-use nonsterile examination gloves are either hand specific or ambidextrous. The hand specific type is the first of its kind in Uganda and the region. Our Examination gloves are latex and powder-free. They are designed with curve fingers making them perfect fit for everyone providing protection for both the medical staff and patient.
All the gloves that we are manufacturing are powder-free. It’s important to note that powdered gloves were banned in USA and other European jurisdictions due to the following reasons:
Risk to Patient
i. Delayed wound healing in patients
ii. Increased scar tissue formation on patients
iii. Increased risk of cancer due to migration of the powder into the human body
Risk to Health worker
i. Increased instances of allergic reactions
ii. Powdered gloves are unhygienic as they leave a layer of powder on user’s skin
Risk to the environment
i. Factories that manufacture powdered gloves endanger the environment with powder residue that is released into the environment
ii. The air is polluted with allergy causing particles which can create respiratory associated complications.
In his opening remarks, EAMV Managing Director, Brian Kavuya said, ‘with a capital expenditure investment of USD. 14.5million, our production capacity for the manufacture of both surgical and medical examination gloves using either latex or nitrile is 95million gloves annually. This is equivalent to 84% of Uganda’s consumption as per Uganda Revenue Authority’s import data for the years 2016 to 2020.’
‘We are ready to supply 85% of the current demand in Uganda,’ Mr Brian Kavuya added.
The Executive Chairman EAMV, Mr Ben Kavuya, in his remarks shared about challenges that EAMV had encountered.
“Local industry in Uganda still faces a number of challenges. Chief among them is the cost of capital. Raising that expensive capital is a challenge on its own. The bureaucracy involved in getting capital from the Uganda Development Bank (UDB) for example is not conducive for the fast pace that a growing business requires to be competitive,’ he remarked.
When we made an application for funding to UDB in early 2019, our application was not honored and there was never a response from UDB. On account of no response from UDB, we reached out to the East African
Development Bank (EADB) and took on a loan facility of US$6.3million at an interest rate of 8%. This is similar to what commercial banks offer. We had no choice but to take on this expensive loan. We had to start and be part of the solution to Uganda’s health challenges,“ he said
Upon hearing about the challenges faced by EAMV, The Minister of State for Investment and Privatization, Ms. Evelyn Anite, took a swipe at Uganda Development Bank (UDB) which she said is not living up to the task of saving local manufacturers even after government injecting one trillion Uganda shillings whose purpose was to support production, processing and manufacturing of essential items for the country to be resilient amidst the supply chain disruptions related to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We have summoned the board and management of Uganda Development Bank to come and explain to us and, Your Excellency, if they don’t give a clear explanation, we will ask you to let them leave, because they are not living up to their task,“ Anite said, attracting cheers from the audience.
Earlier, President Museveni and dignitaries toured the factory and witnessed, first hand, the production and packaging of the medical gloves. He pledged to sort out the issue of intermittent power supply to the industries and to improve the road network in the industrial park.
“We have got surplus electricity, more electricity than the consumers. The only thing we are struggling to do is to make it cheap by cutting out UMEME. UMEME should be out because they are making the cost expensive for nothing,“ President Museveni said.
During the tour of the factory, the Executive Director, Uganda Investment Authority, Mr Robert Mukiza, committed to giving EAMV more land for the expansion of the factory’s operations, ‘UIA is going to withdraw land from investors that haven’t utilized land in the industrial park and give it to other more serious investors like East African Medical Vitals’ – Mr Mukiza said.