What you need to know:
- The suspect was the key figure involved in the illegal distribution of government drugs in the region and had been masquerading as a pharmacist at Fort Portal Regional Referral Hospital in Fort Portal City.
The National Drug Authority (NDA), in collaboration with the Uganda Police, has carried out an enforcement operation in Ntoroko and Kyenjojo districts resulting in the arrest of seven people found allegedly selling government drugs.
The NDA Public Relations Manager, Mr Abiaz Rwamwiri, said the operation was carried out over the weekend and the seven individuals were allegedly found in illicit possession and sale of government-sourced pharmaceuticals and medical equipment valued at over Shs300 million.
He said among those arrested were Mr Samuel Mwesige, who served as the in-charge of Bweramule Health Centre III, and Ms Mary Mbabazi, an enrolled nurse who was found managing the facility's medical inventory in Ntoroko District.
Mr Alex Mbusa, employed as a porter at Bweramule Health Centre III in Ntoroko District, was taken into custody. Mr Mbusa later admitted to selling the stolen drugs to buyers in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
In Kyenjojo District, the operation led to the detention of Assistant Inspector of Police (AIP) Tuke Yusuf Katuramu, who doubled as a health officer at Kyenjojo Police Health Centre II. Mr Denis Blessing, the proprietor of Denis Pharmaceuticals in Kyenjojo, was also apprehended, along with Mr Isiah Isingoma and Mr Tom Bwamabale.
A press statement issued by NDA in regard to the operation shows that a significant quantity of government pharmaceuticals and medical supplies, including more than 100 tons of antiretroviral drugs (ARVs), antimalarial, 80 cartons of malaria test strips, 100 boxes of HIV and Hepatitis B test strips, and various doses of unpacked antibiotics and paracetamol.
12 Jerricans containing laboratory reagents were also seized, among other items.
He said the suspect was the key figure involved in the illegal distribution of government drugs in the region and had been masquerading as a pharmacist at Fort Portal Regional Referral Hospital in Fort Portal City.
The suspect was also found operating an unlicensed pharmacy under the name "Denis's Pharmaceuticals," conducting mobile distribution using motorcycles in Kitangwenda, Kyegegwa, Kyenjojo districts, and other remote areas, including Kyarushozi in Kyenjojo district.
Authorities In the operation also confiscated over 32 cartons of assorted drugs suspected of being relabeled and repackaged government medications from Denis's Pharmaceuticals.
“Pilferage of drugs meant for government facilities deprives the public of their right to access healthcare and has long-lasting consequences on the country's development as well as loss of trust in the country's healthcare system,” He said.
The improper storage of the seized drugs and diagnostic kits poses potential risks to their safety, quality, and efficacy, and some personnel, including a casual worker at local health facilities, exhibited incompetence, endangering the lives of Ugandans.
“The recovered drugs and diagnostic kits were not properly stored, which could compromise their safety, quality, and efficacy. Some of the personnel like a hospital casual worker who is incompetent put the lives of Ugandans at great risk,” he said.
The suspects are currently held at Fort Portal Police Central Station and may face charges including unlawful possession of government stores under Section 316 of the Penal Code, conducting the business of a pharmacist without a license under Section 14(3) of the National Drug Policy and Authority (NDA/P) Act, and unlawful possession of classified drugs under Section 27(2) of the NDA/P Act.
Those associated with the government will also face charges related to corruption and abuse of office.