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PAC Grills Mbarara Hospital Officials Over Expired Drugs, Understaffing

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The expired drugs found in the stores included Loperamide Hydrochloride Capsules, Vitamin B1, B2, B6, B12 Folate Tablets, Syringes, Oral Morphine, Mebendazol 500mg, CD4 Reagent tests, Malaria HRP2 Test Kits, Determine HIV ½ Test Strips, Therapeutic milk, Blood Lancets and others.
12 Jun 2019 06:54
Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital Director, Dr. Celestine Barigye appearing before PAC together with other officials.

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Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital officials found a hard time on Tuesday to explain recurring queries raised by the Auditor General’s reports, key among them the expiry of drugs, which management has failed to dispose of.    The officials were appearing before the Public Accounts Committee of Committee-PAC Central government led by the hospital director, Dr. Celestine Barigye to respond to queries raised by the Auditor General, John Muwanga in his 2017/2018 financial year report.

The report indicated that an audit inspection of the drug store at the hospital showed that an assortment of drugs had expired and not disposed of contrary to Part 9 of the Management of Medicines and Health Supplies Manual, 2012. The manual requires that expired items be properly recorded, placed in designated area and destroyed.

“Expiry of drugs may result into high destruction costs and there is a risk of them getting redistributed back to the market,” Muwanga said in his previous audit report. The same query came in the 2016/2017 financial year audit report. 

The Auditor General recommended that the facility coordinates with National Medical Stores to ensure that expired or damaged stock is destroyed in accordance with the regulations. The expired drugs found in the stores included Loperamide Hydrochloride Capsules, Vitamin B1, B2, B6, B12 Folate Tablets, Syringes, Oral Morphine, Mebendazol 500mg, CD4 Reagent tests, Malaria HRP2 Test Kits, Determine HIV ½ Test Strips, Therapeutic milk, Blood Lancets and others.

The PAC Vice Chairperson, Okin P.P Ojara and Tororo South MP, Fredrick Angura tasked the hospital officials to explain the continued expiry of drugs in their stores yet other facilities are decrying shortages.   //Cue in: “a very good...

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The Hospital Director, Dr. Celestine Barigye said that they have embarked on strengthening the hospital medicines and therapeutic committee (MTC) to oversee proper quantification of their needs, check slow moving items and see how to redistribute them to other health facilities that may need them to avoid expiry.

Barigye said the expired drugs originate from NMS and donations, claiming that sometimes NMS sends them medicines without order such as the injectable contraceptive- Medroxy progesterone. He noted that they have since disposed of the expired drugs, adding that they are currently rejecting any low shelf life medicines including donations with short shelf life.

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Okin P.P Ojara asked the officials to provide evidence to that effect that a committee has been set up and drugs disposed of. The officials noted that had left most of the documentations in Mbarara, prompting the MPs to warn them against taking Parliament for granted.

Ojara tasked the hospital management to pay close attention to the drug store to ensure that public funds are not wasted.

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The Kalungu West MP, Joseph Sewungu also shared the same sentiments, saying that the store management should be strengthened.

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Dr. Barigye pledged to avail a plan on the disposal of expired drugs in the facility and their correspondences with NMS concerning the matter on Tuesday next week.

Legislators also grilled the officials on understaffing, which the Auditor General said stretches the available staff beyond their capacity leading to job-related stress and poor service delivery to community. Only 304 of the required 377 positions are at the facility are filled.   According to the Auditor General, the hospital only has two of the required 5 senior consultants and only 4 of the required eight consultants. The other positions that need to be filled are those of medical officers special grade, Ophthalmic clinical staff, Anesthetic officers, laboratory staff, psychiatric staff, senior enrolled nurses, senior enrolled midwives, orthopedic staff and others.

Dr. Barigye said that a request to fill the vacant posts has been made, adding that they have written to the Health Service Commission through the Health Ministry to recruit the required staff. He revealed that 19 staff have so far been deployed and that more 32 positions have been cleared pending recruitment by the Commission.