Last Updated on: 30th October 2023, 03:03 pm
Lira I The National Drug Authority (NDA) concluded a five-day “compliance enforcement operation” targeting illegal drug outlets in the Northern Region.
Their operation in Lango sub-region covered the districts of Alebtong, Apac, Kole, Oyam, Lira and Lira City.
During the NDA operation in Lango, a total of 202 drug outlets that were operating without licenses or with unqualified personnel were closed. 278 boxes of assorted medicines worth shs70 million were impounded.
Samuel Kyomukama, the NDA head of enforcement said, revealing that the operation was in line with NDA’s mandate to protect and promote public health through effective regulation of human and animal medicines, and healthcare products.
“NDA informs the operators of outlets whose drugs have been impounded to visit our Northern regional offices in Lira City to be guided on how to comply in order to receive their drugs,” Kyomukama added.
He also directed all operators who are still operating without licenses or are being supervised by unqualified personnel to halt entire operations until the licensing requirements are fulfilled.
Kyomukama strongly appealed to the public to always buy drugs only from pharmacies and drug shops that are fully licensed and also asked the public to remain vigilant and report anyone suspected to be involved in drug crimes to the nearest National Drug Authority offices across the region.
NDA regional manager for Northern Uganda Zablon Kwizera Igirikwayo noted that the operation was done in the respective districts and a city based on the records regarding their level of compliance.
“During our routine support supervision and licensing records, we identified that these five districts and city had very many non-compliant, with the number of licensed outlets noted at less than 60% and most of the outlets being managed by unqualified staff who don’t have the capacity to provide better health services to the community members,” Igirikwayo said.
According to him, Oyam district was characterized by many unlicensed drug outlets, and unqualified staff and yet stocked huge quantities of drugs making them operate as illegal wholesale pharmacies.
Igirikwayo also noted that drugs are stocked according to the level of licenses –thereby urging all drug outlet owners to stick to the classes of drugs that are prescribed by the licenses.
He also confirmed that many drug outlets within Acholi and Lango sub-regions conduct a lot of injections among the patients, describing this as “a very bad practice”.
“By the virtue of their training, whether qualified or unqualified nurses, these people are not supposed to prescribe. Therefore, if they are injecting patients, they are prescribing and doing an activity they are not supposed to carry out and this puts the lives of public members at risk,” he added.
Lira district veterinary officer, Dr. Anthony Ogwal, however, noted that licensing and monitoring of veterinary drug outlets in the region is still poor by the National Drugs Authority.
“You find very many quacks parking in the centres. They buy a big tin of a specific drug that the livestock farmers use a lot in treating their livestock, distribute them in other smaller bottles and sell them expensively to the community members. This is not right!” said Ogwal.
“One funny thing in the village is that you find these quarks moving in the village with a needle tagged within their hair, a syringe in the pocket and one bottle of Oxytetracycline using the same drug on several animals. This must stop immediately and that is why we are moving out to tell farmers not to use these individuals,” Ogwal added.
According to Ogwal, the district leaders and extension workers have now embarked on mass sensitization of the community and also encouraged them to buy drugs in gazetted veterinary drug outlets that are fully licensed.
Even with massive sensitization, National Drugs Authority spokesperson, Abias Rwamwiri told tndNews they still encounter several challenges during enforcement operations among others including; non-compliance from both the community and drug shop outlet owners, limited human resource and the presence of illegal training institutions in the region has also been noted as a leading factor in the growth of unskilled and unqualified individual in such outlets.
“The communities we are saving from these quacks are not cooperative enough. In most of the places we go to, the operator closes the drug shop while the community provides the shield by playing cards in front of such premises and claiming they don’t know what is happening. They are the same people who can easily be affected by the wrong practices of these quacks,” according to Rwamwiri.
Deputy RPC North Kyoga Region, SP Allan Tugiizire said that their role as Police in these operations is to provide security to the local government and NDA during enforcement, impound illegal drugs, arrest and carry out investigations according to their mandate of protecting people and their property.
“These drug outlets operating without legal licenses and also using unqualified staff, this means that the lives of people are at stake, a sole reason police come in to act,” SP Tugiizire added.
Enock Wandera Mukwala, Deputy Resident City Commissioner of Lira City East Division appreciated NDA for walking the talk in the region.
Wandera also promised to the NDA officials that the Office of the President would continue to monitor and coordinate with government agencies to weed out quacks in the region to ensure the safety of the community members.
“For those who live in Lira, we have a fresh memory of last year when we lost two children who got injected from some drug shops, one was licensed and the other was not. These are some of the results of the vigilance that we promised last time that we shall not leave any stone unturned,” said Wandera.
He also called upon the media to support such operations in not only relaying the information at hand but also being on the lookout for quack medics for the sake of saving the community.