15 June 2019

Uganda: 38 Arrested, 592 Illegal Drug Shops Closed in NDA Operation

Jinja — At Butaba village, Buyanga sub-county in Bugweri district, a senior one dropout has been arrested after allegedly being found selling drugs at Desire Drug Shop, a substandard drug outlet.

Located at Musongora village, Kapyanga Sub-county in Bugiri District, the outlet was also closed since it was being managed by unqualified personnel.

The operation by police and National Drug Authority (NDA) officials were shocked after discovering that that St Denis Drug Shop, in Kagulumira Sub-county, Kayunga District, had been turned into a clinic.

At Nansololo Trading Centre, in Kamuli District, Mr Martin Mwanyi was arrested and detained at Kamuli Police Station after being accused of managing an illegal drug shop.

During the operation, NDA and police arrested, impounded and closed drug outlets that were selling government drugs.

Mr Samuel Kyomukama, the head of enforcement who led the operation, said 592 outlets have been closed in the operation that kicked off in March to clamp down on illegal health service providers.

Mr Kyomukama said 1,034 boxes of assorted medicines worth Shs361.9 million have been impounded and 38 people netted from 1,206 drug outlets.

"We have impounded drugs from unlicensed outlets. Premises that have been found unsuitable for keeping drugs have been closed and unscrupulous operators arrested," he said.

Mr Kyomukama said the suspects will be prosecuted.

Mr Kyomukama said that in South Eastern region, during operations that kicked off on June 10 and ended on June 14, 138 outlets were closed and 270 boxes of assorted medicine worth Sh94.5 million impounded.

The NDA South Eastern Regional Manager, Mr Muhammad Lukwago, said that most operators of drug shops were carrying out clinical work yet their licenses do not permit them to treat, examine patients or perform minor surgeries.

Mr Lukwago said the impounded drugs include 600 units of gripe water from Ntuuyo Drug Shop in Iganga town.

He said that during the operation, they also recovered malaria rapid test kits labelled "Government of Uganda".

The NDA Public Relations officer, Mr Fredrick Ssekyana, said the aim of the operation was to "save" the public from unlicensed and unqualified personnel.

"Medicines in unlicensed drug shops is stored in unsuitable conditions exposing the population to wrong prescription because these most people who run them are not qualified. They don't know how to handle medicine," he said

Mr Ssekyana said: "They [illegal drug outlet operators] just target money by availing any product which leads to drug resistance and other related risks and complications including death."

Residents speak out

Mr Peter Olego, a resident of Kawongo village, Galiraya Sub-county in Kayunga District applauded the closure of the unlicensed drugs shops saying it will enable them get services from qualified people.

"Most of our drug shops have unqualified personnel who put our lives at risk," Mr Olego said.

Ms Nooriat Namuli, a resident of Buwenge Trading Centre, said she is unhappy with the closure because government health centres are located miles away and they have no drugs.

"We have been getting services from these drug shops but they have now closed. This is unfair. When you visit government facilities, you are always referred to drug shops to buy medicine," she said.

The operation has been conducted in six regions including central, northern, eastern, south western, north western, and south eastern Region.

Some of the districts covered include, Bugiri, Buikwe Bugweri, Buyende, Iganga, Jinja, Kaliro, Kamuli, Kayunga, Luuka ,Mayuge, Mukono, Namayingo, and Namutumba.

Requirements

According to NDA Licensing guidelines of 2019, drugs shops are supposed to be run by professionals with approved medical pharmaceutical or veterinary qualification and must be registered with the professional council.

Pharmacy technicians /dispenser, registered or enrolled nurse, comprehensive nurse, registered or enrolled midwife are the only professionals

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