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Label free drugs, health ministry urged

By Vision Reporter

Added 19th October 2008 03:00 AM

THE Anti-corruption Coalition, Uganda (ACCU) has urged the Ministry of Health to label drugs to be freely distributed to the public. This, the group said would reduce illegal sale of the drugs to patients.

THE Anti-corruption Coalition, Uganda (ACCU) has urged the Ministry of Health to label drugs to be freely distributed to the public. This, the group said would reduce illegal sale of the drugs to patients.

By Anthony Bugembe

THE Anti-corruption Coalition, Uganda (ACCU) has urged the Ministry of Health to label drugs to be freely distributed to the public. This, the group said would reduce illegal sale of the drugs to patients.

Earlier this year, the President asked the health ministry to brand drugs that are supposed to be given out freely as per our demands but this has not been done.

“The ministry should explain why it has failed to do so because unscrupulous medical personnel are exploiting patients,” said Jasper Tumuhimbise, the group’s national coordinator.

He said people continue to die because they cannot access drugs, while others have to bribe medical personnel to receive attention.

Proper service delivery in the health sector, Tumuhimbise said, was the key to ensuring a quality population.

Tumuhimbise made this call at the exchange of a memorandum of understanding between the Anti-Corruption Coalition and ACFODE, a women’s advocacy NGO, on Friday at Hotel Africana in Kampala. The partnership aims at addressing corruption by relating to gender and health.

Tumuhimbise said the nationwide drug leakage is about 76% yet shortages continue to be registered.

The commonly stolen drugs are Coartem and Fansidar for malaria, the measles vaccine, Depo Provera for family planning, ORS for diarrhoea and Cotrimaxazole for cough.

“Last month, the Government announced that Coartem would be sold in private health facilities at sh200 and sh800 per dose for children and adults respectively but up to now, it is still at sh12,000 and 18,000,” he said.

Beatrice Byenkya, the chairperson of the African Parliamentarians Network Against Corruption, said labelling the drugs alone was not enough.
She said there was need to address other loopholes in the delivery chain.

Regina Bafaki, ACFODE’s executive director, said incorporating gender and health in the fight against corruption would help the two institutions to tackle poverty from the grassroots.
The activities will involve visiting schools and empowering women.

“Fighting corruption involves grooming our children in the right way. Small things like encouraging them to tell lies are the beginning of corruption in society,” she said, adding that the partnership will boost the advocacy for gender equality and equity, as well as good governance and efficient service delivery.

Bafaki noted that corruption greatly affects women, children and other vulnerable groups and called for more efforts to fight the vice.

Label free drugs, health ministry urged

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