Cancer patients still waiting for drugs

Thursday November 15 2018

Stranded. Cancer patients and their caretakers

Stranded. Cancer patients and their caretakers sit outside a ward at the cancer institute in Mulago, Kampala, yesterday. The health facility has been hit by drug stock-out. PHOTO BY KEVIN ATUHAIRE.  


Kampala. The Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI) has run out of essential drugs and cancer patients have been told to wait a little longer for treatment.
Some cancer patients and caretakers Daily Monitor interviewed yesterday said they had been told by the medical personnel to wait until yesterday when the drug shortage was expected to be resolved.
“I have been told to return for drugs on Wednesday [yesterday] because they are currently out of stock,” a patient, who preferred anonymity for fear of victimization, said.
When Daily Monitor visited the hospital at Mulago yesterday, there was no sign of treatment as desperate patients waited.

The crisis
“The scarcity was due to lack of clearance from NDA (National Drug Authority) officials but now that we have got it, we hope to have the drugs in the facility in a day or two,” the UCI spokesperson, Ms Christine Namulidwa, said in a telephone interview yesterday.
Asked what implications there were for patients who said they had waited for a week, Ms Namulindwa said: “They could face some issues due to delayed intake or use of drugs but we are going to ensure that once the drugs are here, we distribute them quickly.”
She said the drug shortage affected mainly adult patients.
Asked why NDA had delayed to clear the drug consignment resulting in the crisis, Ms Namulidwa said she did not know why but said UCI had done their part.
The NDA senior spokesperson, Mr Fredrick Ssekyana, said a lot of things have to be considered before drugs are allowed into the market. He said he appreciates the plight of the cancer patients and would not deliberately hold their drugs unjustifiably.
He said the public should appreciate that all imported drugs must be subjected to the verification procedure to ensure compliance with NDA import requirements before they are released for use.
Mr Ssekyana said the rigorous procedure is done to ensure the highest possible standard of healthcare.
“Now that their drugs have been released, it can only mean that they have fulfilled NDA importation guidelines,” he reasoned.
“I am very confused about the state of affairs here. I have not got medicine since November 7 and I am back with the patient hoping to get the drugs they need. However, I have not seen any one giving out medicines. I am still waiting,” Mr Ceaser Augustus Oduca, a patient caretaker, said yesterday.