KAMPALA – The Vice President of the Republic of Uganda Jessica Alupo has lauded National Medical Stores – NMS for strengthening the drug supply chain to improve health service delivery in Uganda.
While touring NMS Headquarters in Entebbe on Friday morning, Alupo acknowledged the gaps being exploited to steal drugs from health facilities, saying these will be addressed with the latest innovations put in place by National Medical Stores.
“The Ugandan population need medicines in government health units and sometimes they are disappointed when they hear stories of medicines getting stolen. I am happy to discover from here today that whereas NMS has sufficient volumes of medicines in their stores for all government facilities and delivers them to the respective health facilities as per their mandate, there is a grey area that we need to pay attention to as government so that all these health facilities benefit’’, said Alupo.
The National Medical Stores’ mandate is to procure, store and distribute medicines and medical supplies to government health facilities.
However, once NMS delivers medicines to the respective health facilities, in-charges of the respective government-owned health facilities are charged with the responsibility of ensuring that medicines are secured and administered to patients free of charge.
‘‘We have discovered that there is a gap from the time NMS delivers drugs to health facilities as our mandate dictates, and when the drugs are administered to patients. We would like to call upon all Ugandans to be vigilant and report any cases of drug thefts in their respective facilities. On our part as NMS, we are innovating new ways to address these gaps by introducing innovations to improve visibility in the ordering and distribution of vaccines,” said Mr. Moses Kamabare, the National Medical Stores General Manager.
The Vice President noted that the introduction of the NMS+ ERP tool, a new initiative of National Medical Stores with support from USAID, which is an online monitoring tool aimed at improving transparency and accountability in the ordering of medicines, will go a long way in improving visibility in the ordering and tracking how medicines are delivered and dispensed to patients.
According to Kamabare, NMS plus will be rolled out in three phases: the first leg which is to digitalize the order system for hospitals, the second phase which will be connecting NMS to the stores of the respective health facilities, while the last leg will be to track who has received which kind of medicine.
‘‘The final phase is what accounts for what we have delivered to a health centre and connects it to the individual patient so that when you go to a health facility, you will only be able to get medicines after you have presented your National Identification Number and thumbprint. Even if you get on a bus and go to another health facility, and they prescribe for you the same drug, we will be able to know that you have already received this drug in another facility,” said Kamabare.
Alupo toured NMS at the invitation of the management of NMS, as part of the organization’s stakeholder engagement initiative to raise awareness among national and local leaders about the mandate of National Medical Stores.
She also acknowledged the efforts by NMS to expand to a bigger warehouse in Kajjansi to accommodate storage of more volumes of medicines.
According to Kamabare, once complete, the Kajjansi warehouse will have capacity to produce at least 100 oxygen cylinders per day and is billed to be the largest government-owned medical warehouse in the East African region.
“I am happy to note that you are working on solving the problem of storage through a modern pharmaceutical warehouse in Kajjansi. I was also very excited to learn that you store Ebola vaccines for other countries in the region and that other countries come here to benchmark,” Alupo noted.
Alupo was accompanied by the State Minister in the Vice President’s office also the Buikwe Woman MP, Diana Mutasingwa.
On her part, Ms. Mutasingwa, expressed concern over what she said was a deliberate misinformation of the public by a section of politicians on the availability of Mama Kits, a free specialized medical kit for expectant mothers in public facilities.
“What we have been getting on ground is that Mama Kits are being sold. Because of propaganda, Ugandans are told that these mama kits are not delivered and yet NMS indeed delivers these Mama Kits. We must work together as leaders to inform the general public to correct this misinformation’’, Ms. Mutasingwa said.
Alupo was taken through the process of ordering, packaging and transportation of medicines to health facilities.
High ranking officials who previously visited the NMS facilities include President Museveni, Speaker Jacob Oulanya and Health Minister Dr Ruth Aceng and Members of Parliament others.
The Vice President’s visit is seen as a big step forward for government as it seeks to address rampant theft of medicines from public health facilities.