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We Must Tighten Accountability for Gov't medicines, Supplies- Ggoobi

Ggoobi noted that it is unacceptable for NMS to continue delivering essential medicines and supplies to health centres, general, regional, and national referral hospitals without demanding accountability for previous deliveries.
Ministry of finance officials during a guided tour inside the new NMS warehouse project. NMS photo site in Kajjansi

Audio 5

The Permanent Secretary/Secretary to the Treasury in the Ministry of Finance, Planning, and Economic Development, Ramathan Ggoobi,  says there is a need to enhance accountability in the delivery and utilization of drugs and medical supplies to public health facilities.  

Ggoobi noted that it is unacceptable for NMS  to continue delivering essential medicines and supplies to health centres, general, regional, and national referral hospitals without demanding accountability for previous deliveries. He made the statement after touring the head offices of   National Medical Stores-NMS in Entebbe on Saturday.  He also toured the new NMS warehouse in Kajjansi that is currently under construction. 

This was after NMS board member Dr Medard Bitekyerezo and NMS General Manager Moses Kamabare noted that the agency's mandate is to buy, store, and distribute essential medicines and medical supplies to all public facilities as provided for in the NMS Act.

Kamabare cited the example of obstetrics and gynaecological packages, commonly known as Mama kits, that contain five pairs of gloves, a macintosh for the newborn baby, gauze, cotton wool among other items. He says NMS on average delivers 800,000 Mama kits every year, higher than the annual average of 650,000 mothers who deliver from public health facilities as reported by the health ministry. "But you will always hear people including MPs saying there are no Mama kits in the facilities," Kamabare said.

Kamabare said the agency is supplying Mama kits that can be used by 80 per cent of the women who deliver at public facilities. However, it is hard to prove that even those supplied were given to the right people, the mothers. 

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The Ministry of Health added Mama kits to the list of essential medicines and supplies in order to encourage expectant mothers to deliver at public health facilities. As a result,  Ggoobi says there is a need to tighten accountability for such supplies so that there is value for money. 

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The Deputy Secretary to the Treasury Patrick Ocailap said that there is a need for complete accountability where government and other stakeholders can follow up on NMS deliveries and usage at the facilities.  

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Ggoobi is also encouraging the NMS board of directors to present amendments to the law and other measures to his office that will strengthen the agency and also promote accountability before, during, and after delivery of government procured drugs and supplies.

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Paul Okware the head of stores and operations said the agency has the capability to store at least 20 million doses of various Covid-19 vaccines in its cold chain unit. The agency is currently storing 5 million doses of various Covid-19 vaccines such as the one jab vaccine Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer, Moderna, Sinovac, and AstraZeneca. 

Kamabare added that the country will receive a total of 3 million doses of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine this weekend and a total of 13 million doses of various vaccines by end of the year. "So the vaccines are enough for all eligible persons. But we now need people to embrace vaccination," he said.

Ggoobi says NMS, the media, and other government officials among others should encourage Ugandans to embrace vaccination so that the economy is opened fully next year. 

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