Kampala. The Ministry of Health has said government will recruit more heath workers this financial year, among them doctors and pharmacists.
“Government plans to recruit more pharmacists and health workers because the problem in this sector has been recurrent,” the Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary, Dr Diana Atwine, told Sunday Monitor in an interview yesterday.
Dr Atwine was responding to the call by the Pharmaceutical Society of Uganda (PSU) to government to recruit more 330 pharmacists to help monitor the medicine supplied at different health facilities.
A 2014/15 human resources for health bi-annual report compiled by the Health ministry indicated that there was need for 370 pharmacists but only 31 positions had been filled which equated to only eight per cent.
Four years later, only 20 pharmacists have been recruited, bringing the number to 51 pharmacists. This equates to about 10 per cent despite the fact that there are more than 1,100 licensed pharmacists.
Dr Atwine, however, said: “This is not the only solution to curbing the theft of medicine. We have big health centres with pharmacists but that is where the theft of medicine is even happening the more. We need biometric monitoring systems because computers don’t lie.”
“We have done so [use of bio metric] in some hospitals on the attendance of doctors and it has worked. We are determined to change this despite the limited funds,” she added.
“The vice of stealing medicine at health centres has continued because the people who are knowledgeable about drugs have not been recruited. We want government to do this with urgency,” Dr Samuel Opio, the secretary of the Pharmaceutical Society of Uganda, told Sunday Monitor in an interview yesterday.
Dr Opio was responding to the recent investigation done by BBC and NBS TV which unearthed the theft of public medicine at different health centres supplied by the government across the country.
“If the right people are deployed, the vice will stop because they will be accountable for every medicine that gets in and out of the system. At least each referral hospital as well as health centre IVs will have a pharmacist,” he said.
The recent investigation report pinned pharmacists for aiding the stealing of medicine, quoting three of them.
While responding to these revelations, Dr Patrick Ogwang, the president of PSU, said the named people in the story do not belong to the association and are not registered.
“These are people who are working to taint our names. We disown them because we do not know them in our books and we hope this can be corrected,” he said.