KAMPALA. Newly appointed Executive Director of the National Drug Authority (NDA) Ms Donna Asiimwe Kusemererwa has said she will concentrate on building the image of the authority which has in the past suffered a series of corruption scandals and abuse of office.
Ms Kusemererwa replaces Ms Kate Kikule who has been the acting ED.
Speaking shortly at the ceremony to welcome her at the NDA head office in Wandegeya, Ms Kusemererwa said that there is a big misconception about NDA and will prioritizing changing the image of the institution in the first quarter of her appointment.
“My emphasis will be on image, there are a lot of perceptions about what the quality of medicine on the market and what NDA as an organization is or is not doing. I would like to spend my first quarter trying to look into the image; the perception of our primary stakeholders and where there are misconceptions we try to correct that, not through media interactions but through our internal process,” said Ms Kusemererwa.
The NDA, which is mandated to deal with the development and regulation of the pharmacies and drugs in the country, and control the importation, exportation and sale of pharmaceuticals has been marred by incidents of abuse of office, threatening the credibility of the organisation.
In February last year, Dr Gordon Katende Sematiko, the executive secretary/registrar and Mr Dan Badebye, the head of finance at NDA were fired for transferring $5m (about Shs14b) from the official authority account to an unauthorised fixed deposit account. Another official, Mr Adolf Baguma, was also sacked in relation to the same scam.
It is with this background that the NDA boss said that “NDA has a zero tolerance to corruption, if we find any such case, we intend to deal with the staff according to our policy and guidelines that define the actions that we take for individual cases of misconduct.”
She also said she will strengthen registration processes to ensure there are no counterfeit products on the market.
“The issue of counterfeits and unlicensed products on the market, we will strengthen registration, licensing and post marketing services to ensure that there are no counterfeit products that are accessed by the people of Uganda,” said Ms Kusemererwa.
Mr Sam Zaramba the NDA board chairman said that the recruitment procedure for the position was thorough and ensured the authority got the best.
“We decided not to take the exercise ourselves all together; when you shortlist people you are not supposed to interview them.
We gave that responsibility to consultants and they gave us three candidates from which we picked the successful one.”
Mr Zaramba however cautioned the new ED about the sensitivity of the authority.
“This organisation is very sensitive; I had a challenge with the previous ED because her phone would be switched off at times. You should know that if the Head of State doesn’t or the minister [of health] doesn’t call you the board chairman can call you anytime and be ready to speak.”