The Health Ministry Permanent Secretary Dr Diana Atwine has this Monday afternoon toured the new National Medical Stores’ state-of-the-art pharmaceuticals warehouse in Kajjansi off Entebbe road.
“We inspected the construction site for the new Medicines and Vaccines Warehouse that will also house offices for NMS in Kajjansi,” said Dr Atwine.
She said the facility is expected to be completed and operational by end of June this year.
NMS’ mandate is to procure, warehouse and distribute essential medicines and medical supplies, primarily to Government health facilities.
Dr Atwine said the warehouse systems would be “full automated”, allowing the structure to use modern technology to run the health supplies chain across Uganda.
The warehouse is expected to increase bulk store capacity area from the current 8,000 pallet locations in the existing premises, to a minimum of 30,000 pallet locations.
The facility will also increase cold chain capacity to a maximum net storage volume of 2,500m3 purpose built as a Drive-in cold room (DICR).
“One of our main objectives is to consolidate, centralize and operate NMS services and infrastructure in one modern, purpose built and efficient building, with a minimum sixty- year lifespan, on the specified site,” said NMS General Manager Moses Kamabare at a recent event.
The facility will as well have a medical gas plant.
“We now want to secure the future of oxygen in Uganda with a new plant capable of producing 100 cylinders per day,” he added.
Kamabare said the gas will be supplied mainly to public hospitals across Uganda but private facilities will be considered too.
Medicine availability across the country currently stands at 85 percent with a target of reaching 90 percent within the next 1-2 years.
NMS recently hired clerks to follow up on drugs from the districts up to the rural health facilities under what is known as the last mile delivery model.
In the year 2017/2018, NMS achieved higher than target score of 90 percent stock availability for Essential Medicines and 86 percent for Tracer items against a target of 75 percent set by Ministry of Health.
Features of the facility
The project funded by Global Fund and Uganda government sits on a 10-acre piece of land.
Kamabare says this will be Africa’s largest pharmaceutical warehouse when completed.
“This is a green warehouse. No air conditioning. We’ll have fresh air. 50% of the power needed to power our operations will come from solar panels,” he emphasised.
The roof of the imposing structure boasts about 200 solar panels which officials say will generate 0.3 megawatts of electricity.
This will lead to a reduction in power bills.
NMS management is contemplating increasing the number of solar panels to generate more power and if possible sell surplus electricity.
The building boasts an extensive room for cafeteria, permanent dedicated space for breastfeeding employees, gym and office space for 200 staff.
“It also has a gym for staff to keep fit because they work for long hours.
The spacious warehouse in Kajjansi will allow vehicles drive in to pick and drop medicines which is not the case at the stores in Entebbe.
The cold rooms which store sensitive medical supplies such as vaccines and laboratory commodities will have their storage capacity increased five-fold at the new structure.
To reduce the costs of servicing transport vehicles, space has been created for an in-house service centre.