Kabarole health facilities spend four months without drugs 

Nyakitokoli Health Centre III in Karangura Sub-county, Kabarole District. PHOTO | ALEX ASHABA

What you need to know:

  • The officer-in-charge of Nyakitokoli Health Centre III in Karangura Sub-county, Ms Stella Kasiime, said they last received supplies in September last year but all drugs are out of stock.

Government health facilities in Kabarole District are grappling with an acute shortage of drugs, as many of them last received supplies in August and September last year, this publication has learnt.

The facilities have since resorted to referring patients to private health centres .

In an interview at weekend, the officer-in-charge of Nyantamboma Health Centre III, Ms Jenifer Birungi, said they last received supplies from the National Medical Stores (NMS) on September 27 last year.

She said the supplies were exhausted within two months.

“Can you imagine our facility has no Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDT) for testing malaria? If a patient needs any tests to be conducted, we refer them to private facilities,” Ms Birungi said.

She added: “Some patients accuse us of hiding the drugs from them yet our stores are empty. Others walk long distances to check whether we have restocked.”

She said the facility is only conducting minor surgeries at the moment and major ones are referred to other facilities.

When we visited Nyantamboma Health Centre III last week, the patients said the health workers only prescribe them the drugs and they buy them from private pharmacies in Fort Portal City.

“We don’t know what to do because we have been coming here twice a week to see if drugs have been supplied but it’s like there are no drugs. Let the government supply drugs to our facility because we can’t afford to buy drugs in private facilities,” Mr Joshua Tusiime, a patient, said.

The officer-in-charge of Nyakitokoli Health Centre III in Karangura Sub-county, Ms Stella Kasiime, said they last received supplies in September last year but all drugs are out of stock.

“Patients are not happy with us whenever we prescribe drugs for them and we tell them to go and buy. They think we have drugs in the stores, which is not true. It is hard to run a facility without essential drugs,” she said.

At Mugusu Health Centre III, the officer-in-charge, Mr Paul Natukunda, said because of drug stockout, the number of patients seeking health services has dwindled in the last three months.

“In a month we used to get over 1,000 patients but now the number has reduced to 500. It looks funny to tell patients to buy drugs when they have come for treatment at government facility,” he said.

The district health educator, Ms Catherine Kemigabo, said the lack of drugs has affected the operations of most facilities.

She asked NMS to explain why they have delayed to supply the drugs.

The Kabarole District chairperson, Mr Richard Rwabuhiga, said some patients become hostile to the health workers when they are told there are no drugs. 

“We are going to call an extraordinary council meeting to [seek] the closure of all outpatient departments (OPD) by withdrawing all health staff until we get drugs for patients,” he said.

He added that NMS has until January 31 to supply drugs or else they will pass the resolution to temporarily close all OPD services.

Mr Rwabuhinga said all health centre IIIs receive medical supplies worth Shs4.8 million while health centre IIs receive supplies worth Shs1.7 million every two months.

Kabarole District has a total population of about 400,000 people and a total of 16 health facilities consisting 12 health centre IIIs and four health centre IIs.

The most affected health facilities include Mugusu, Kichwamba, Nyatamoboma, Kabende, Kijura, Ruteete, Nyakitokoli and Kasenda.

NMS responds

When contacted on Monday, the National Medical Stores (NMS) public relations officer, Ms Sheila Nduhukire, acknowledged the delayed distribution of drugs to the district but said they have communicated to health facilities that they will soon start supplying drugs for cycle three and four.

“We have had challenges with lower health facilities but we have talked to the officers-in-charge and they are all aware, we are going to start supplying them supplies for cycle three and cycle four (supplies for four months),” she said.