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Drug stock outs frustrate health care delivery in Gulu

NMS is on the spot over delayed supply of essential medicines and equipment.

Gulu, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Health service delivery is on standstill at different government-owned health facilities in Gulu following prolonged drugs stock outs in the district.

According to the District Health Department, the National Medical Stores-NMS, which is mandated to procure, store and distribute human medication and other consumables to government health units in the country last replenished the health units about three months ago.

Harriet Amony, a resident of Awach town council revealed that she sought treatment at Awach health centre IV after presenting with all signs of malaria but she was referred to Gulu Regional Referral Hospital due to the stockout of drugs and test kits.

“I couldn’t travel because I did not have 20,000 Shillings for transport up to Gulu Regional Referral Hospital, nearly 65 kilometers away coupled with long queues of patients there.” Amony, 31, told URN.

Daudi Okeny, a resident of the neighbouring Paicho sub county said that he sought treatment for his child at Cwero health centre III after Paicho health centre III reported a stockout of drugs but he was equally disappointed that there were no malaria drugs.

“The health workers told me that they did not have drugs and malaria test kits. I was forced to use neem tree leaves, which I boiled to treat my child,” Okeny said.

Speaking to URN during an interview on Monday, Ballingtone Olweny P’Ongwech, the District Health Secretary said Gulu is served by Awach health center IV, supported by five-level III health centres and 14 level II health centres.

He disclosed that all the 20 health facilities are faced with an uphill task of treating patients after running out of essential medicines such as anti-malarial drugs, antibiotics, malaria test kits and pain killers among others.

Gulu District Health Officer, Dr Kenneth Canna regretted that the stock out is forcing patients seeking health care services from government health units to purchase drugs from private drug shops and clinics.

When contacted, the NMS Public Relations Officer Sheila Nduhukire confirmed that the delivery of medicines had been delayed because they prioritized the distribution of Personal Protective Equipment-PPEs, COVID-19 vaccines and vaccines for children.

“However, the deliveries of other medicines has now begun across the country,” read a public notice from NSM that Nduhukire shared with URN. Malaria, neonatal sepsis, cardiovascular infections, and anaemia continue to be Gulu’s biggest disease burden.

In the financial year 2018/2019, the diseases topped the mortality rates in the district. Between July and December 2019, the district registered 170,036 cases of malaria out of the 497,435 cumulative cases registered.



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