Eight Medical Officers Suspended for Selling Free ARVs

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Eight employees of Lira Medical Center are being investigated by the police for mismanaging a Government program for the distribution of free anti-malarials and anti-retroviral drugs.

Raymond Otim, the Lira District Police Commander, says the medical workers are accused of stealing and selling Coartem and anti-retroviral drugs to private clinics in Lira town.

Lira Medical Center is one of the few private hospitals in northern Uganda that are implementing government health programs.

Ben Ogwang, the Director of the Center, says the eight staff were invited to defend themselves before a disciplinary committee, but they failed to do so, prompting the management of the center to report the matter to the police. Ogwang says the staff have been suspended as investigations into the theft of the free drugs are concluded.

Seven of the eight medical workers are nurses at Lira Medical Center. They are Susan Atala, Lily Rose Auma, Teddy Auma, Beatrice Achiro, Vicky Akello and Susan Akello. A clinical officer, Dennis Kizza, is also implicated in the scam.

This is the second time medical staff in Lira district have been accused of stealing free anti-malarials and anti-retroviral drugs. Last year five doctors at Lira Regional Referral Hospital were interdicted for the theft of the free medicine. Their case is pending prosecution in court.

The director of the centre, Ben Ogwang Ochoo says the accused staffs were summoned before disciplinary committee but they failed to appear prompting management to have no choice apart from dismissing them and reporting the matter to police.