NDA shuts down over 100 illegal drug shops in northern Uganda

NDA enforcement team carries boxes of assorted drugs impounded from outlets in Acholi sub-region during a four-day crackdown on illegal operations. COURTESY PHOTO

Lira, (UG):- Uganda’s National Drugs Authority (NDA) has shut down at least 112 illegal drug outlets and impounded 180 boxes of assorted drugs worth Shs45 million in northern Uganda.

This was during a four-day compliance enforcement operation conducted in the Acholi and Lango Sub-regions, Busia and Malaba borders by the government drug agency in collaboration with the police.

According to Dr Zablon Igirikwayo, NDA’s northern region inspector of drugs, the closed drug outlets were found operating without licenses.

Speaking to the media on Friday evening, Dr Igirikwayo added that out of the 180 boxes of assorted drugs impounded, they managed to impound one box of assorted government drugs labelled “G.O.U”. These assorted drugs include anti-malarial which are always given free of charge at public health facilities.

“There is a health worker at Kole Health Centre IV who has been ferrying government drugs from this facility to her private drug shop. We have the name and the contact but because of the sensitivity of the matter and also conducting additional investigations, we will not mention her particulars,” Dr Igirikwayo said.

“All operators currently operating without licenses are hereby directed to stop their operations until they fulfil all the licensing requirements. All drug outlets without non-compliance such as unqualified staff, and drug outlets without ceilings will have their licenses suspended,” he added.

Dr Igirikwayo also advised operators of outlets whose drugs have been impounded to visit the NDA’s Northern Regional Office in Lira City for compliance guidance upon which if they address all the issues, they shall be given back their drugs.

Mr Tom Makumbi, senior inspector of drugs at the National Drugs Authority-Enforcement Department, said the operation also targeted the smuggling of drugs into Uganda.

“This operation led to the apprehension through inspection of seven buses at these two border points (Malaba and Busia) which were found to be carrying illegally imported drugs including eight boxes of assorted medicines as well as one box of assorted anti-cancer medicines,” he said.

Mr Makumbi explained that the operation was in line with NDA’s current mandate which is to protect the public and promote public health through the effective regulation of human and animal medicines as well as health care products.

 “NDA continues to work closely with international as well as regional partners to share information and learn from each other and the vice of smuggling. We have received special training to better understand and stop the vice,” he said 

“We urge the public to remain vigilant and report all suspicious activities through our toll-free numbers. Together we can ensure drug safety for the people of Uganda,”

The NDA team, however, said the operation was also faced with stressful challenges. For instance, some facilities visited were found abandoned.

“This leaves us with no one to engage with since the person will be nowhere to be seen yet this activity aims to engage this person to explain to them the requirements (needed for a person to operate a drug outlet,” Mr Makumbi said.

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