Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | National Drug Authority-NDA is set to withdraw the licenses of newly opened private pharmacies in Mulago National Referral Hospital.
They include First pharmacy and Ecopharm pharmacy, which opened just a month ago. The move follows a directive president, Yoweri Museveni to NDA to close all private pharmacies operating in government hospital.
Dr. Merdard Bitekyerezo, the NDA board chairperson, says the president’s directive is timely, since the Authority was initially hesitant to license them but their hands we tied because they had already entered Memorandums of understanding with Mulago hospital management.
In a comment posted on the pharmacy’s website in November last year, Idd Lumbwe, the proprietor of Ecopharm pharmacy, said they had secured a strategic place between Uganda Cancer Institute and Uganda Heart Institute to operate from.
Both facilities handle complications that usually require expensive medication, which isn’t available in the facilities. Ecopharm opened last month just behind Uganda Cancer Institute premises.
But Bitekyerezo says these institutes have budgets that are financed by government to buy their own drugs unlike other facilities that rely on supplies from National Medical Stores.
A doctor who spoke to Uganda Radio Network on the sidelines of the Joint Health Sector Review on condition of anonymity, said considering the constant stock outs in hospitals, bringing the drugs closer to the facilities through private providers wouldn’t be a bad thing only if medics don’t abuse the gesture and cut deals with the pharmacy to fleece patients.
He revealed that during his tenure at Mulago National Referral Hospital, his colleagues would sign prescriptions and direct patients to specific pharmacies in Wandegeya where they would earn commissions.
In July, David Nuwamanya, the Principal Administrator Mulago hospital told URN that the opening of First pharmacy inside the hospital premises was part of the public private partnerships aimed at bringing drugs closer to patients to save them the hurdle of going to distant pharmacies in search of drugs that are unavailable at the hospital.