At least 20 people have been arrested and several clinics and pharmacies closed in Busia and Tororo districts by officials from the Allied Health Professions Council Uganda in an operation aimed at cracking down illegal operators.
In Busia Town, eight clinics and two pharmacies were closed while 22 clinics were closed in Tororo District at the weekend.
Mr Michael Mubiru, the quality assurance manager of AHPCU, confirmed the arrests.
“We have arrested a total of 20 people in Busia and Tororo districts for lack of academic documents and licences to operate clinics and pharmacies,” Mr Mubiru said.
He added that on Jinja Road in Busia Town, they closed a pharmacy after they found a civil engineer and a systems manager manning the facility while at another pharmacy on Tororo Road, the proprietor was found employing students.
“We found a village health team official without qualifications struggling to administer a cannula to a patient; we have pharmacies where engineers and system administrators dispense drugs to patients which cannot be tolerated,” he added.
At one clinic in Dabani Trading Centre in Busia Town, the proprietor and nurses at the facility fled.
A patient said she was surprised when suddenly all the nurses who were attending to them fled.
At Lumino Town Council in Busia, the team had faced resistance after the mayor, Mr Zimbili Oundo, questioned their operation, saying he needed to have been notified.
“I am the mayor of this town and you cannot come here to close clinics without my permission even if you are from the Ministry of Health. You need to have notified us so that we give your operation a green light,” he said.
Those arrested are detained at Busia and Tororo police stations awaiting prosecution.
However, some residents such as Mr Clement Oguttu from Lumino in Busia, critised the operation, saying government health facilities lack drugs, leaving them with only private clinics.
The Allied Health Professions Council Uganda (AHPCU) is a body under the Ministry of Health established under the Allied Health Profession Act (Cap.268), which is mandated to regulate, supervise and control t
Mr Peter Komuntale, the AHPCU deputy registrar, said they were in the eastern region to assess whether private health caregivers are qualified to do their work and whether the clinics are duly registered and certified to operate.
Mr Komuntale said the aim was to ensure the communities are protected from harm and have quality health services. “We have had several cases where patients have died due to wrong diagnosis and bad drug prescriptions; we also have several cases of drug resistance, partly due to issues of underdose,” he added.