By: STEPHEN WANDERA
KAMPALA: The public is becoming more prone to consuming substandard drugs as National Drug Authority (NDA) suspends inspection of drug shops and pharmacies over financial inadequacies. The government drug regulatory agency is facing a financial crisis due to outstanding arrears of about Shs3 billion in verification fees that has accumulated over years.
According to NDA executive secretary Gordon Sematiko Katende, ministry of finance has always promised to pay but the promise has never materialised. “As you may be aware, development partners refused to pay verification fees for medicines and condoms they import. This used to account for 30 per cent of our income. Now our enforcement team is not able to go to the field and we instead rely on district officials of whom we have no control over,” he told Dr Alem Wondimagegnehu, the World Health Organisation country representative.
Dr Wondimagegnehu was on Friday paying a courtesy call to NDA that he hailed for working under stringent conditions. He encouraged them to work harder and promised more support.
Government signed a bilateral agreement with development partners to wave off verification fees for drugs and condoms from development partners a couple of years ago that has now accumulated to over Shs3 billion.
“I went to Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development and I was promised that the Ministry of Health would budget for it,” Mr Sematiko noted, adding” nothing has materialised but we continue to test medicines and drugs at our laboratory in Mulago.”
He observed that more than 2,500 pharmacies and drug shops are estimated to be operating countrywide, adding that the actual number is not well captured yet.