Uganda: Museveni Halts Closure of Private Pharmacies in Public Hospitals

President Museveni has halted the closure of all private pharmacies operating in public health facilities across the country.

This contradicts an earlier directive by the President on September 30, 2019 to close the pharmacies accusing them of selling their own drugs to clients rather than prescribing government medicines.

Mr James Wilson Tamale, the head of regions at National Drug Authority (NDA), said the earlier directive was paused pending a stakeholders meeting that was supposed to take place last year. He, however, said this did not happen due to Covid-19 pandemic.

"This means that NDA could not close private pharmacies operating in public hospitals until the President has held a meeting with stakeholders regarding the issue," Mr Tamale told this newspaper during a telephone interview last Friday.

At the time of the first presidential directive, NDA shut down some of the private pharmacies such as Eco Pharmacy in Kiruddu hospital and Good Life pharmacy in Kawempe hospital.

Last week, Daily Monitor visited some of the public health facilities such as Kiruddu, Mulago, and Kawempe hospitals to find out whether there were private pharmacies operating.

At Kiruddu, a private pharmacy occupies space on the third floor, while at Kawempe, there is a private pharmacy at level seven. At Mulago there is First Pharmacy and Eco pharmacy operating.

When asked why the pharmacies were still working, Dr Lawrence Kazibwe, the acting deputy director of Kawempe referral hospital, said: "Kindly also follow up on the meeting that was held by the Minister of Health, representatives of the national and regional referral hospitals where the President was given facts about who operates these pharmacies and why they should stay open."

Dr Nehemiah Katusiime, the executive director Kawempe hospital, said: "That decision was rescinded long ago in February last year by a letter from the President which I have a copy. He said pharmacies continue operating until they talk with stakeholders. "

We were unable to reach Health minister Jane Ruth Aceng and presidential press secretary Lindah Nabusayi as they did not respond to our calls and messages.

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