Thursday, March 6, 2008


Health suspends officials
Thursday, 6th March, 2008 E-mail article Print article

By Anne Mugisa and Irene Nabusoba

The Minister of Health, Dr. Steven Mallinga, has interdicted three officials and five drivers implicated in the theft of drugs from the National Medical Stores (NMS).

“Following a thorough forensic audit initiated by the Internal Audit and Management of NMS, staff found responsible for some of the problems that emerged have been interdicted,” a statement by the minister read. The audit recommended that information systems manager Peter Daka and head of marketing and sales Jennifer Luande be suspended, pending further investigations.

A third official, invoicing clerk Angel Sabiiti Mungati, and five drivers were to be handed over to the Police for prosecution. The drivers are Cyrus Ssebowa, Yusuf Kajamiti, Henry Masaba, Peter Nabuti and A. Mboizi.

The interdiction follows an internal investigation “after persistent press reports of drug thefts,” Mallinga said.

He ordered the NMS board to advertise and recruit a competent manager. The NMS has not had a real general manager for two years since the expiry of Robert Rutagi’s contract. Newton Mwesigye has been acting manager.

The minister said in Parliament recently 50% of the drugs distributed to the districts was being stolen.

The Anti-Corruption Coalition put the figure at 75%. “Essential medicine is supposed to be free of charge in Uganda,” the group said in a leaflet as part of its sensitisation campaign.

“Unfortunately, essential medicine is most often not available in thee public health facilities due to mismanagement and corruption. Up to 75% of the medicine distributed to the health centres is leaked.”

The New Vision last December broke the story of a scam within NMS in which drugs worth hundreds of millions were stolen involving a network of conniving personnel.

Mallinga said the ministry was concerned about the NMS being the main supplier of bulk medicines to all the public health facilities.

The ministry, he added, had commissioned a taskforce to study the medical stores ‘in all its aspects’. The taskforce is supposed to recommend the course of action.

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