June 30, 2020

Maracha District Grumbles over Expired Drugs


Maracha DHO Dr. Paul Onzubo (File photo)

Maracha – The district council is aggrieved over anomalies in services of National Medical Stores (NMS), an institution that handles distribution of drugs and medical supplies.

Members of the Local Council’s Social Services Committee,
allege that the institution delivers expired drugs to health facilities in the district.

Other anomalies the committee also points out include packaging of drugs in wrong boxes and inclusion of drugs that are not requested for, by the Health facilities.

The district Social Services Committee pened its dissatisfaction of NMS in a report following
a recent supervision and monitoring visits to the health facilities.

Mr. Drimbaku William, a representative of Nyadri Sub County to the district council, also a member of the committee was the first to raise the concern.

“NMS at times delivers drugs at night, making it difficult to cross check what is contained in the box due to time factor and when the checking is done later, you can’t hold them accountable because the delivery note would have erroneously been signed” Mr. Drimbaku explains some of the loopholes.

The councilor, further hints on packages wrongly labeled while inside it contains different drugs.

Mr. Waga Charles, a councillor representing Oleba Sub County, claims that drugs that are almost expiring and others not requested by the specific Health facility are instead delivered.

“What we found out as expired drugs are actually nonessential drugs. The drugs are not much needed by the health units but mostly by the Hospitals. NMS brings these drugs to the health centre 3s and they end up expiring without being used” Mr. Waga explains.

Some drugs need to be prescribed by a physician or a specialist doctor yet Health centre 3s are run by Clinical Officers who not authorised to handle some of the drugs.

Among the non essential drugs supplied in excess Health centre 3s include those for treating leprosy.

The district Health Officer, Dr. Paul Onzubo acknowledges that the anomalies pass to the health centres undetected by his office because opening of boxes the drugs is only done at facility levels.

“NMS packs and delivers the items. The supplies and medicine to the district health offices in boxes. The same firm, NMS, uses another transport Company to come and lift these boxes from the district stores to the health facilities. Its at the health facility levels that which items have been supplied are known and there issues that are discrepancy in nature are actually discovered at that level” Dr. Onzubo elaborates.

Maracha Woman Member of Parliament, Hon. Ayaka Rose Atima blames the anomalies on information gap.

“Many times, there is information gap, because when you received drugs which have expired, the best thing you can do is to liaise with us. So, when we get this information, immediately we swing into action. But less than that, we will be handling a postmortem” the legislator lashes at the district leaders over delayed information giving.

Maracha East Constituency MP. Acidri James blames technical health officers for failure to raise the matter. He also claims NMS has policy implementation lapses at national level.

“It’s supposed be the technical people to inform us that we have been given drugs that are to last for three months but the manufacturing and expiring dates will only allow us to use it within a month, so that we are able to follow with NMS” Hon. Acidri emphases.

MP. Acidri notes receiving messages of drug delivery but without any information on manufacturing and expiring dates.

“Its good that you have informed us because quite often, we are alerted on our mobile phones whenever deliveries are made to the districts but what we lack in form of information is, they mention some of the drugs but what they don’t mention is the manufacturing and expiry dates” he notes.

On seeking clarification from NMS Public Relations Officer, Mr. James Odongo over the allegations, he declined to comment to Red Pepper digital on grounds of being on a leave.

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However, by press time, Mr. Odongo failed to honor a two weeks promise of sending the contact of the Principal Public Relations Officer for National Medical Stores.

National Medical Stores supplies drugs and other medical equipment to 18 health facilities in Maracha district. Annually, the district spends over Ugx. 550 million for drugs and supplies.

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