Pharmaceutical body disowns drug theft suspects

Wednesday June 26 2019

Pharmacy. An attendant looks for medicine at

Pharmacy. An attendant looks for medicine at one of the pharmacies in Kampala in May last year. MONITOR PHOTO 

By Monitor Reporter

Pharmacists under their auspices of Pharmaceutical Society of Uganda (PSU) have disowned personnel implicated in theft of government drugs and condemned the act.

PSU has also called for a review of the penal code to classify the theft of medicines as murder by denial and impose a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
This comes after an undercover investigative documentary titled, “Stealing from the sick” was aired on BBC exposing how drugs are stolen from government facilities and sold on black market across the country.

In a press statement signed by the PSU president, Dr Patrick Ogwang and secretary Dr Samuel Opio, the pharmacists want the Health Monitoring Unit of State House to take keen interest in the matter and the persons involved.

“The PSU council lauded the efforts by BBC television in exposing the theft of government medicines in Uganda as it contributes to strengthening of measures to mitigate the unethical and abominable practice,” read the statement in part.

However, PSU noted that three persons in the documentary Richard, Alex and Patrick, are not pharmacists and neither are they Pharmacy students. They expressed fear that this only casts them in bad light as an entire body of pharmacists.
“We are also disappointed that there was no effort to ascertain from the Council of PSU and the Pharmacy board of the Ministry of Health that these were Pharmacists. It is common knowledge that anyone in a hospital will easily call themselves, ‘Doctor.' Likewise, we note a similar case of persons handling drugs calling themselves Pharmacists,’’ the statement adds.

The council has also asked government to consider reviewing the handling of medicines within the public sector by recruiting pharmacists at every district.
“Currently, most of the storage facilities in which medicines are kept are overseen by non-pharmacists and the stores are under the Ministry of Finance Planning and Economic Development (MoFED) not under the Ministry of Health. So, the medicines store keepers are not Pharmacists,” they stated.