The National Drug Authority (NDA) is constructing an ultra-modern tower that will host high-tech laboratories for testing the efficacy and quality of drugs that are manufactured within the country or imported.
On Wednesday during the groundbreaking ceremony at the NDA offices in Nakasero, Dr. Medard Bitekyerezo, the NDA board chairperson said that the new laboratory will strengthen the authority’s capacity to eradicate substandard, falsified and counterfeit medicines and acaricides in the country.
“Medicines that are substandard, falsified and counterfeits negatively affect the quality of health service delivery to the population and must be prevented,” he noted.
The new tower which is estimated to cost sh32bn will accommodate a pharmaceutical, food, herbal medicine, and a microbial laboratory and a sample storage room. The building is going to be set up at the old NDA offices in Nakasero.
Bitekyerezo said that the decision to construct the laboratory was meant by a stiff rebuff by people who tried to sabotage the procurement process.
He noted that the original plan was to construct offices but they directed their focus to a laboratory to ensure that the issue of substandard drugs in the country is dealt with in the country.
“We directed our focus and opted to construct a laboratory in this country so that no one in Uganda takes drugs that are substandard,” he said noting that the money for the construction was internally generated by the authority.
David Nahamya, NDA acting secretary said the laboratory, whose procurement started six years ago, will also be used to test all types of foods including exotic ones and test both locally manufactured and imported cosmetics.
“For drugs, we are going to increase the range especially those that we have not been able to test here. There is no drug we are taking out and we shall be contributing to public health and food safety,” he said.
Currently, they test a limited range of medical devices which include mosquito nets, condoms, syringes, and needles.
Parbat Siyani, the chairman of Seyani Bros and Co. (U) Ltd, the company that has been given the contract, said once the building is done and all necessary equipment fixed, the laboratory will be used to examine and assess the quality of not only manufactured drugs but also herbal medicines.
He noted that in this way, NDA will be able to spot counterfeit and substandard drugs and food products and stop them from being circulated in the market.
Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng, the Minister of Health said the quality control laboratory tower is a demonstration of government’s commitment to saving human life through ensuring that drugs available on the market are effective for stated diseases and conditions.
“For those who think that Uganda is a place where substandard medicines will find their way into the market, by this laboratory construction, your attempts will be dealt a big blow,” she said.
She said the cabinet is currently reviewing the National Food and Drug Authority Bill and will soon send it back to Parliament for debate before it’s passed into law. This act is expected to further empower NDA’s fight against substandard drugs in the country.
She also called upon the Pharmaceutical Society in Uganda to reign on pharmacies that are allegedly selling prescription drugs to the public without a prescription from a competent medic.
The building is expected to be complete within two years.