The Government has impounded 981 boxes of assorted medical items valued at Shs 490, 500, 000 UGX of which 165 boxes had medicines intended for public health facilities.
This was done in a two months’ operations conducted by The Ministry of Health and, the joint teams working jointly with National Drug Authority (NDA), Uganda Police Force, and Health Monitoring Unit (HMU) to curb and clear the country of illegal drug dealers, on substandard drugs, counterfeit medicines and drugs embossed: “Government of Uganda, Not for Sale.”
The minister of Health Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng also Thursday said the theft of government drugs and use of counterfeit compromises the quality of health service delivery hence discrediting government programmes and yet government continues to increase the medicines budget annually and improve the supply chain.
She said in the next financial year 2019/2020, the medicines budget has been increased by 24% from UG. Shs300bn to UG.Shs396bn. Government has also ensured that there is no funding gap for ARVs and anti-malarials.
“Our operations begun in Eastern Uganda and Kampala and will move to the entire country. The teams conducted operations in five major shift markets in the four districts of Bukedea, Soroti, Bulambuli, and Serere and impounded 31 boxes of medicine while apprehending 19 suspects”. She added.
She also called upon the public to fight hawking of medicine. Dr Ruth said these Hawkers lack knowledge in handling medicine, hence exposing the unsuspecting population to health risks with their unverified claims. “Such individuals sell substandard, fake, and counterfeit medicines. If you stop buying drugs from hawkers, they will abandon the vice,” she added.
The teams also conducted inspections of 17major drug shops in Manafwa, Serere, Budaka, Ngora, Mbale, Kaberamaido, and Soroti to weed out illegal operators. During the exercise 12 drug shops were closed, 12 boxes of medicines impounded, and 10 suspects apprehended and handed over to police.
In Kaberamaido, a drug shop in the names of Healing Drug Shop had a box of coartem tablets with doses for 186 patients that were donations not intended for sale, but were being sold to the community. The team also conducted operations in in Kampala and intercepted 3 trailers with 716 boxes of assorted medicines suspected to be unauthorized medicines or medicines labelled Government of Uganda.
“ We extend our appreciation and thanks to public, NDA Uganda Police Force and HMU for their role during this ongoing operation, and appeal to the general public to be vigilant and report more of such cases on our toll free lines 0800 101 999 and 0800100066” the minister added.