By Carol Kasujja
The National Drug Authority (NDA) has closed at least 350 drug shops, pharmacies and clinics over failure to meet various requirements.
The reasons for closure included operating without a license, lack of qualified personnel, unsuitable premises and carrying out activities they are not mandated to do.
“We carried out the operation to save people’s lives and we are still closing more. Ugandans are being treated by unqualified personnel who have never stepped in any medical class. People should go to health centres which have well displayed licenses from NDA,” said Wycliffe Arinaitwe, NDA’s law enforcement officer.
In an operation that has lasted several weeks, NDA found out that about 55% of the health facilities in Kampala operate without licenses, especially the class C drug shops and medical clinics.
“The majority of the medical clinics were operating as Class C drug shops and it was not easy to distinguish a drug shop from a clinic. The cadres found in drug outlets and unqualified nursing assistants, which could partly explain the poor dispensing practices,” said Nasser Mbaziira, a senior inspector of drugs with NDA.
Mbaziira says the size of the premises did not meet the NDA standards, especially pharmacies in the city centre. Others had buildings in bad condition, such as poor celling and leaking roofs.
He adds that cases of unregistered and expired drugs were encountered in some of the outlets. Some of them did not keep proper records.
During the operation, an unqualified pharmacist from Rwanda was found displaying drugs in dirty premises and had an open bathroom in the same room. When asked why he had a bathroom in his pharmacy, he said he could not afford to pay rent for a separate house.
He had a line of desperate patients waiting for his service but he could not produce any qualification. He kept telling one of the inspectors that they were together at university but the inspector could not remember seeing him before.
An S4 drop-out from Rwanda was smartly dressed in a white gown and calling herself a doctor, but could not produce evidence of her qualifications.
In Kibuye, drama ensued when a woman who was selling drugs and cosmetics in the same room, called on evil spirits to attack NDA inspectors who were closing her dirty premises. The same room had a bed, dirty and old mattress, bed sheets and her underwear on the bed.
She was found in possession of expired drugs. When she made an alarm, people gathered and threatened to beat up inspectors for ‘mistreating’ their ‘doctor’.
NDA is planning to continue with the operation.