BY ROBERT ATIKU

MARACHA: Members of Maracha district social services committee have accused National Medical Stores (NMS) of supplying near expiry and non essential drugs to health facilities within the district.

The accusations follow recent supervision and monitoring of the health facilities by the District Social Services committee.

Mr. William Drimbaku the councilor representing Nyadri subcounty, who is a member of this committee said, “We have been moving round as social services committee in these health facilities but we have realised that there are a lot of expired drugs in these health facilities that are supplied. And in most cases we see that supplies are made when the drug is left with either one month or three months to expire. And our population may not be able to consume all these drugs in time(before expiry). Is there a way that replacements can be done?”

Similar concerns were raised by Mr. Charles Waga the councilor for Oleba subcounty who is also social services committee member.

“What we found as expired drugs are normally the non essential drugs to these health centres. The drugs are not much needed by the lower health units but instead they are commonly used by the hospitals. So what NMS normally does is to bring these non essential drugs to health units which expire (due to low demand). Otherwise with the essential drugs there is no problem.” Mr. Waga said.

When contacted about the matter, Maracha district health officer Dr Paul Onzubo said the medicines and medical supplies are normally delivered to health facilities in boxes where discrepancies discovered.

“NMS packs and delivers the medicines and supplies to the district health officer in boxes and the same firm NMS uses another transport company to come and lift these boxes (of drugs) from the district stores to the health facilities. It’s at the Health facility level that which items have been supplied are known and there issues that are discrepancy in nature are actually known.

The district health officer officer also identified the non-essential drug that the district receives in large quantities.

“The mainly affected medicine for example in Maracha is the medicine for treating epilepsy that is Fenitone. Very many (health) facilities in (Maracha district) have received Fenitone in large quantities and are unable to consume them. Complaints have been made in the previous supplies to avoid more additions but they continue to be supplied. So that means effort needed to be made at a higher level to really rectify this problem.” Dr. Onzubo added.

Government lower health facilities normally make orders for medicines and medical supplies to NMS annually. The government then pays NMS for the supplies made to the health facilities.

However, Mrs. Rose Ayaka Maracha district woman Member of Parliament blames information gap in efforts to address this challenge.
“Many times there is information gap because when you have received drugs which are expired, the best thing you can do is to liaise with those of us. So when we get this information immediately we shall swing into action. But less than that, we will just be handling postmortem.” Mrs Ayaka commented.

Maracha East Constituency Member of Parliament Mr. James Acidri promised to make follow up over the matter.
“It’s good that you have informed us because quite often when these deliveries are made in the district, we are alerted on phone. But what we lack in terms of information is the manufacturing and expiry dates of the drugs supplied. So it’s supposed to be the technical people who receive these drugs to inform us so that we are able to follow up with NMS.” Mr. Acidri said.

When contacted on phone Mr. James Odongo NMS Public Relations Officer said he could not comment on the matter because he was leave.
“I am on leave and for me I can’t talk when on leave. I will only be reaching to work next week. I will also text you the number of the Principal PRO so that you can talk to him.” Mr. Odongo said.

But efforts to get a comment from the Principal PRO of NMS also proved futile as his known telephone contact was switched off shortly after sending him a text message requesting to talk to him over the allegations.

Maracha district has eighteen health facilities that receive medicines and medical supplies from NMS worth over shs 550m annually. End