National Medical Stores (NMS) has spoken out on a document making rounds on social media, saying an independent investigation into allegations of procurement of short life medicines were found to be untrue.
The former NMS’ Chief pharmacist, Dr Atanasius Kakwemeire had petitioned the president’s office calling for an investigation into alleged abuse of office at NMS through procurement of fake and substandard medicines.
He claimed that he was being victimized and that NMS terminated his contract before forcing him out of office.
President Museveni in 2020 ordered the Inspector General of Government (IGG) to probe the matter.
The six months investigation by IGG, with the help of State House investigators, gave NMS a clean bill of health.
The petition to the presidency was on Friday circulated on social media platforms especially WhatsApp. The date of the petition was cropped out, creating an impression that it was a new case.
“This is an old case brought to our attention in 2020 after the National Medical Stores Board terminated the complainant’s contract for incompetence at work,” said NMS in a statement on Twitter.
“Following a formal disciplinary action, he was dismissed from NMS.”
ChimpReports understands Kakwemeire, 63, fell short of providing work plans for his department which board members saw as an act of incompetence.
“Even after termination, the complainant refused to hand over the office. It took the effort of the police to cause him to hand over the office and NMS property,” said NMS in a brief statement.
Kakwemeire, according to NMS, “reported to the IGG and the allegations were investigated and found to be baseless. He then reported to the State House Anti-corruption Unit. The allegations in the letter should be dismissed with the contempt they deserve.”
During the investigation ordered by Museveni, detectives examined the three year framework contracts NMS has with a number of its medicines’ suppliers including CIPLA/Quality Chemicals (for the anti-malarials, ARVs and reproductive health items).
They also scrutinized Local Purchase Orders and call-off orders.
Kakwemeire had reported that NMS was deliberately purchasing medicines with a very short life span before expiry to deliberately occasion loss to the government of Uganda.
In response, NMS said the problem of quick expiring medicines only related to medicines the Ministry of Health received as donations and passed on to NMS.
The IGG discovered that quick-expiring donated medicines (valued at SShs140m) were handed over to NMS at a time when they “weren’t meeting the requirement of 75% shelf life,” something that no one can appropriately blame on NMS because the entity never participated in the medicines’ procurement (only received them as donations).
Investigators said NMS was registering a medicines expiry rate (0.5%) which is way below the WHO recommended standard rate of 5%.
Research shows cases of procured medicines expiring in the warehouse can’t be avoided.
Dixon Asinguza, a health supplies procurement expert says, sometimes medicines expire due to unforeseen reasons. “For example, you can order for anti-malarials for a health facility but register a few cases of malaria. You can try to redistribute medicines to other areas but you can’t force people to take the medicine if they are not sick.”
The WHO considers up to 5% as acceptable but the NMS management is now at 0.5% in comparison with the governing Board target of 2%.