The need for more scientists will keep growing in Uganda to control the spread of viruses and disease, says a researcher.
By Christopher Bendana
KAMPALA - The need for more scientists will keep growing in Uganda to control the spread of viruses and disease, says Dr Yona Baguma, a senior researcher at the National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO).
“Uganda is a ‘Hot Zone’. We shall have another epidemic in the next five years. The good news is that we at NARO have the capacity,” he said this week.
The researcher mentioned this while presenting a paper about the status and future of biotechnology in the country to MPs on the parliamentary committee on natural resources at Imperial Royale Hotel.
Uganda has been hit by viruses affecting both humans and crops. The latest being the Marburg virus.
Crops have also been attacked by diseases like the banana bacteria wilt and cassavas brown streak disease.
Uganda and its western neighbor DR Congo are home to two of the deadliest diseases in the world – Marburg and Ebola – because of the favourable environment.
Scientists say the environment is not only suitable only for humans but to animals as well.
The discussion centered on the way forward for the passage of the Biotechnology and Biosafety Bill that is still under review in Parliaments.
The bill is aimed at the promoting and regulation of biotechnology.
Baguma said they were using biotechnology to breed crops resistant to pests and disease caused by the viruses.
Biotechnology is also being used in the manufacture of drugs like the current Ebola drug under trial.
Hanifa Kawooya, the woman MP for Sembabule district and a member of the committee asked the scientists to be simple in their communication for easy comprehension.
She added that they as MPs needed to be conceived about the advantages of the biotechnology.
“We want to be brought on board but I want to understand the subject,” she said.
Meanwhile, Dr Peter Ndemera, who is the executive secretary of Uganda National Council of Science and Technology called upon Ugandans to make wise use of the diverse biological resources.
Gifted by nature for viruses