New Vision (Kampala) - January 11, 2012
The health ministry has said that Bioline, the rapid test kit for
HIV/AIDS which has been blacklisted by the world health
organization (WHO) for being ineffective, is not used in Uganda.
Bioline, which is manufactured in South Korea, was used by
different countries as a confirmatory test, the second conducted
during standard HIV testing, which uses three tests - an initial
screening test, a confirmatory test and if there is a
discrepancy, a third, tie-breaker test.
But WHO last month removed Bioline from its list of approved
rapid test kits after it failed quality assurance tests.
At the time, over one million kits were in circulation in Kenya,
about one-tenth of all the HIV kits available in the country
then, according to official estimates by the Kenyan government.
The fake kits were also being used in Tanzania among other
countries in the region. "What we know so far is that 1,178 test
kits have been used in the field, but we have yet to substantiate
exactly how many of them were defective," Hadji Mponda,
Tanzania's Health Minister, was quoted as saying at a news
conference on last week.
Although the two governments have since recalled the condemned
kits, there are fears the kits could still be in circulation in
However, the health ministry on Tuesday confirmed it had never
approved Bioline test kits nor have they ever been imported into
Dr. Zainab akol, the manager of the national HIV/AIDS control
programme, said the ministry approved only three brands for
testing HIV in Uganda.
The brands include Ditamine, Statpack, and Unigold. She said some
other brands are used in HIV research and not in public health
"We are very tough when it comes to approving equipment used in
testing and treating HIV/AIDS," Akol stated. "The three brands we
approved are accurate and can withstand our conditions including
Akol noted that centralizing the purchase and distribution of
medical supplies under the national medical stores (NMS) had also
helped to guard against importation of fake drugs and equipment.
She was, however, dismayed that Bioline, which initially was
among the "most effective rapid testing kits", could later turn
out to be ineffective.
Moses Kamabale the NMS General Manager confirmed that Bioline is
not used Uganda. Regina Ssali, in-charge Kiswa Health Centre, and
a laboratory technician at Case Medicare, a private clinic
prominent in HIV testing and treatment, also said they had never
heard about the Bioline kits.