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Global Fund audit throws a spanner in the works of health officials’ scams 0

There is something demonic about the financial management of the health sector in Uganda.

Last week, Ministry of Health and National Drug Authority officials actually issued a public apology for letting tonnes of medicines expire in hospital stores across the country and for failing to use hundreds of millions of dollars provided by the Global Fund for healing sick people.

The health officials then proceeded to give explanations for their apparent ineptitude. They said the drugs expire in hospitals because the hospital storekeepers are old fashioned and do not understand modern management of pharmaceuticals. Please don’t ask who hires the storekeepers.

As it happens, everybody knows their little secret: Ever since the National Medical Stores (NMS) some years ago started delivering supplies to the “last mile” and embossing all medical packages and equipment, it became difficult to sell them in the open market, to the intense frustration of hospital and local government health administrators.

The officials promptly lost interest in ordering the required drugs from NMS and in many cases, began telling patients that certain medicines were not available even when they were in the stores.

As to the expiry of the much needed life-prolonging antiretroviral drugs in their possession, the officials who addressed the media last week said they well, regretted it. And on the use of expired test kits, which must have given thousands of people false results, they promised to investigate.

So why these promises and apologies that failed to impress? They were made in response to a Global Fund audit that the donors released a while back. And then the week before last, civil society people complained loudly over the non-action since the Global Fund report was released.

Insincere apologies prompted by donor reports just mock the people who have suffered from official mismanagement of the health sector. People know that public hospitals have been rotting and nobody wants apologies. They want corrective action.

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by Joachim Buwembo

Photo credits: Getty Images

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Direttore Responsabile Giuseppe Frangi