Uganda: Mbarara Health Centres Lack Drugs, Say Officials

20 January 2020

There is shortage of drugs at health centres in Mbarara Municipality, the residents and officials have said.

Health workers at most health centres, including Mbarara Municipal Council Health IV are sending patients to private pharmacies to buy drugs after their illnesses have been diagnosed.

"At the end of December, I took my six-year-old boy to Kakoba Health Centre III (in Kakoba Division), he was diagnosed with malaria but the health workers told us to go and buy drugs in a private pharmacy. I never bought all the drugs because of lack of money," Mr Moses Bitwire, a resident, said on Thursday.

Ms Anitah Natukunda, a resident of Andrews Cell in Kamukuzi Division, shared a similar experience.

"My child has diarrhoea, but I have been told to go and buy drugs because they are not available at Kakiika Health Centre III," Ms Natukunda said.

Residents of Nyakasa in Rwakisakizi Ward, Nyakayojo Division reported to the municipal council officials last Wednesday (January 15) that Rwakisakizi Health Centre II has no drugs.

"It makes no sense to keep health workers here and having good facilities when there are no drugs, we would rather have drugs under a tree shade than have buildings without drugs," Mr Amon Kariyo, a resident, said.

Mr Robert Agaba, the health centre in-charge, said they lack drugs and they don't attend to those seeking family planning services.

"We have trouble with residents here because they cannot accept that there are no drugs, they at times refer to us as drugs thieves after referring them to go and buy drugs from private clinics," Mr Agaba said.

The Mbarara Municipal Council health officer, Dr Simon Baryemeki, confirmed the drug crisis, which he blamed on National Medical Stores (NMS), that had delayed on supplies.

"We were supposed to receive drugs from National Medical Stores mid -December but we haven't and I don't know what happened. Even at our major health centre 1V have drugs crisis," Dr Baryemeki said.

The town clerk, Mr Francis Baryabanawe, said locals are accusing leaders of not being irresponsible enough yet it is the supplier who has failed to deliver.

Similar case

In December last year, Lyantonde Hospital spent a week without essential drugs prompting management to temporarily close the facility.

On December 20, the hospital management issued a statement advising patients to seek medical services elsewhere.

Lyantonde Hospital receives patients from several other districts including Kiruhura, Rakai, Lwengo and some parts of Sembabule. Between 600 and 1,000 patients seek treatment at the facility every day.

The Lyantonde District health officer, Dr Moses Nkanika, onfirmed shortage of drugs but denied reports that medics no longer report for work.

The Permanent Secretary of the Health ministry, Dr Diana Atwine, said she was not aware of the shortage of drugs in the district. "If there are no drugs, it is the weakness of district health officer and his team because National Medical Stores (NMS) can still supply drugs in case of an emergence," she said.

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