By Najib Mulema

The ministry of Health has embarked on a dive to dispose of expired and obsolete medicines and other health supplies from 6,619 health facilities in Uganda, both Government owned and Private Not For Profit (PNFP).

The development was revealed by the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary Dr. Diana Atwine while addressing the media at Uganda Media Centre in Kampala on Monday.

She said the process will create more space for adequate storage of medicines and other health supplies delivered by National Medical Stores (NMS) and Joint Medical Store (JMS) to prevent the risk of public health hazards, pilferage and relabeling as a result of keeping expired medicines in health facilities for long.

“Expired pharmaceuticals are a growing concern in the country and can also result into a risk to national security,” noted Dr. Atwine adding, “It is naturally expected that about 5% of pharmaceuticals in distribution chain is bound to end up as obsolete or expired,”

She further assured that a collaborative approach has been put in place between Ministry of Health, National Drug Authority, National Medical Stores, and Joint Medical Store towards successful implementation and execution of this exercise.

Apparently, National Medical Stores (NMS) logistics has already set aside resources to pay the contracted provider to incinerate the expired and obsolete medicines and other health supplies.

“The collected expired/obsolete medicines and medical supplies will be temporally deposited and kept at NMS designated stores in Entebbe, from where the contracted provider for the hazardous waste will collect the items under NDA supervision and transport them to Luwero Industries Ltd- Nakasongola for safe disposal by incineration or other appropriate methods,” said Dr. Atwine.

The last time such a massive exercise was carried out was in 2012. Currently, the quantities of expired medicines all over the country are estimated to be about 1,200 to 1,500 tons.