Abim locals resort to herbs amid acute drug shortage

Refurbished. The current state of Abim District hospital. Despite being renovated, the facility lacks essential medicines such as anti-malarials. PHOTO BY STEVEN ARIONG

Abim District hospital is currently grappling with an acute drug stockout, which has forced some patients to resort to herbal medicine.
A visit to the health facility by this newspaper last week established that most patients diagnosed with malaria and tuberculosis are being referred to private clinics to buy the necessary drugs and those who cannot afford them are resorting to herbs.
Ms Betty Akidi, who was attending to her child diagnosed with malaria, told Daily Monitor that she had stayed at the hospital for one week receiving only paracetamol tablets, which are painkillers, instead of anti-malarial coartem and other essential drugs.
“I am not seeing any improvement for my child since I was admitted here because doctors have told us the hospital has run out of malaria drugs,” she said.

Limited choices
Another mother, Ms Josephine Awili, said she had spent Shs70,000 on buying malaria drugs from private clinics and urged government to supply the drugs to the hospital.
“Other patients have gone to other hospitals such as Kalongo in Acholi and Matany in Moroto for better treatment unlike some of us who have remained around but the situation is not promising,” she said. Dr Edison Atwine, the hospital medical superintendent, confirmed the hospital has run short of malaria drugs, including sedatives used to treat accident victims.
He said the National Medical Store (NMS) has not yet supplied the drugs to the hospital. “The last delivery made by NMS to us was in June,” Dr Atwine said.
Mr Peter Ocheng, a concerned resident, said health services in the district have remained poor despite government renovating the hospital. Mr Mpimbaza Hashaka, the resident district commissioner, said he has since felt the pinch of lack of medicine at the hospital.

RDC concerned
“One day, I took a patient who had been involved in an accident but I was surprised when doctors told me the NMS had not supplied them with medicines; this is unacceptable,” Mr Hashaka said.
He said the situation has become a security threat and that it is not the first time NMS has failed to supply drugs to Abim.
However, Mr James Odongo, the communication officer at NMS, explained that Abim Hospital is supplied with various medicines once every two months. “What they are saying is a very big lie; even last week, we sent drugs to Abim hospital,” he said.


Admission. In June, the chairperson of the National Drug Authority (NDA), Dr Medard Bitekyerezo, revealed that more than 30 per cent of government drugs are smuggled to neigbouring countries, putting the lives of Ugandans at risk.
Dr Bitekyerezo made the revelation during a prayer breakfast meeting organised by NDA to mark 25 years of valuable partnerships for effective drug regulation in Kampala. Dr Bitekyerezo identified the most stolen drugs as anti-malarial and Anti-retroviral drugs, citing connivance between some heath workers, storekeepers and gatemen. “I have information that the drugs are smuggled to DR Congo and South Sudan, among other countries,” he said.