National Drug Authority (NDA) yesterday launched the construction of a Shs31 billion Quality Control Laboratory at its former head office at Lumumba Avenue in Kampala.
While presiding over the ground breaking ceremony, health minister Dr Ruth Aceng, said the laboratory will be complete within two years but its sole purpose will be fighting importation, manufacturing and distribution of counterfeit human and veterinary drugs.
Ms Aceng noted that the disease burden in Uganda is still high of which 75 percent are preventable diseases. She added that communicable diseases are still rampant thus require having effective drugs.
“There is a high burden of communicable diseases. The construction of the quality control laboratory will ensure that drugs on the market are effective. This will improve human health and the public will be safeguarded from substandard medicine,” Ms Aceng said.
Ms Aceng warned counterfeit drugs dealers that they would be dealt with accordingly since the laboratory in offing will be installed with advanced machines that will promptly detect all imported and locally manufactured substandard drugs.
“We have an obligation to ensure that the public has access to quality drugs. For those who think they can deal in substandard drugs are in for it. This laboratory will expose them. We are aware NDA has endured so many challenges ensuring locally manufactured and imported drugs are safe for human and animal health,” Dr Aceng said.
NDA acting board chairman, Dr Medard Bitekyerezo and Dr Aceng said there were increasing cases of drug resistance especially in antibiotics for malaria and typhoid attributing the problem to poor quality drugs.
“We already have resistance on a number of antibiotics for malaria and typhoid. As many of you are aware that there no more drugs coming in. So, we need to safe guard what we already have,” she said.
Ms Acheng said the National Food and Drug Authority Bill is almost complete and it will soon be passed by cabinet. She said once cabinet approves, it will be tabled before Parliament for debate.
Dr Bitekyerezo appealed to President Museveni not to transfer Ms Aceng because she has steered the ministry and she deserves to stay in the same portfolio to attest its achievements.
“I will be meeting President Museveni and I will request him to keep you in this ministry because you help us achieve a lot within a short period. You understand the ministry and we might name one of the towers after you,” Dr Bitekyerezo said.
Dr Bitekyerezo said the Shs31 billion that will be used to construct the NDA quality control laboratory towers has already been generated within the authority itself but said those willing to contribute resources for what he referred to as a noble cause were still welcome.