National Drug Authority On Spot Over Failure To Crack Down Illegal Drug Shops

3676 Views Fort Portal, Uganda

In short
They sell expired drugs, lack trained pharmacists, have unsuitable premises and aren't licensed for the businesses and products they are trading in or are not licensed at all.

The National Drug Authority is on the spot for failing to crack down on illegal drug shops and clinics. Several drug shops and private clinics that do not conform to the required standards and regulations remain operational in Kabarole district putting the lives of patients at risk. 

The drug shops are mostly operating in slums and urban centres. They sell expired drugs, lack trained pharmacists, have unsuitable premises and aren't licensed for the businesses and products they are trading in or are not licensed at all. Some clinics offer services like dental and Gynecology, yet the personnel don't have qualifications and equipment required for such procedures.

In Kijura town council, Beatrice Nakabuye, a supervisor at Kijura medical clinic admits that the clinic has been operating for five years without a license. She says that the clinic is owned by an entrepreneur with no medical background and five of her colleagues are unqualified.

In Hakibale Sub County, some of the drug shops operate in bedrooms and incomplete structures while others operate late in the night to avoid being arrested.

Suzan Mbabazi, a resident of Kabende trading centre blames NDA officials of not taking action against the proprietors. She wonders why the authority neglects Kabarole and yet it carries out operations in other parts of the country.

Mbabazi who has fallen victim to the illegal drug shops says that two months ago, she went to the clinic after feeling weak. She adds that the medical workers at the clinic didn't bother to find out what she was suffering from, but rushed to give her tablets, thinking she was suffering from Typhoid.

Mbabazi says that when she reached home, her condition worsened until she was rushed to Fort Portal Referral Hospital. It was at the hospital that she was told by the medical workers that she had been given wrong medication.

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Steven Baguma, the National Drug Authority (NDA) western region inspector, admits that the clinics are a death trap for patients. He notes that the clinic owners have taken the advantage of the illiterate communities to offer their fake services.

Baguma attributes their inability to crack down on illegal pharmacies, clinics and drug shops to low staffing levels and lack of funding. He adds that the law on illegal operators are very weak and the culprits are usually fined very little money and released the next day.

He notes that the health department should supplement the work of the authority and sensitize communities to avoid illegal drug shops and conduct routine health checks on the legality of the clinics to avoid patients from having sub-standard services.

According to the Auditor General's report for 2014, the National Drug Authority is facing challenges in fulfilling its mandate to issue annual licenses to drug shops and pharmacies.

The report states that most drug shops and pharmacies were operating illegally because NDA had failed to issue them with licenses.


About the author

Emmanuel Kajubu
Emmanuel Kajubu is proud to have been the first Ugandan journalist to write in depth pieces about the Tooro Kingdom institution. His knowledge of the inner workings of the Tooro Kingdom is what made him privy to the splits in the royal family. These splits almost challenged Tooro Omukama Oyo Nyimba Iguru's reign.

Culture, agriculture and the environment are just two areas of many of interest to Kajubu. As long as he has held a pen, Kajubu has also written about public policy, health and crime.

Kajubu is keen on impacting his society not just as a writer but also a trainer and mentor. Bundibugyo and Ntoroko districts fall under his docket. Kajubu has been a URN staff member since 2008.