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Government to dispose of expired and unwanted medicines from health facilities around the country

Monday, 12th February 2018

The Ministry of Health has embarked on a drive 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).

This 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), and prevent the risk of; public health hazards, pilferage, and relabelling as a result of keeping such items in health facilities for long. Expired pharmaceuticals are a growing concern in the country and can also result into a risk to national security.

It is naturally expected that about 5% of pharmaceuticals in the distribution chain is bound to end up as obsolete or expired. 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.

A collaborative approach has been put in place between Ministry of Health, National Drug Authority, National Medical Stores, and Joint Medical Store and towards successful implementation and execution of this exercise, as follows:

1. NDA has set aside resources to pay the contracted provider to incinerate the expired and obsolete medicines and other health supplies.

 2. The existing NMS logistics system will be used for collection of the obsolete supplies from the various Public, and PNFP health facilities across the country and these will be incinerated at the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) approved disposal sites.

 3. Obsolete supplies in Public Health facilities - from Health Centres II, III, IV and PNFPs will be picked from District Health Offices (DHOs) for each district. And for General Hospitals, and Regional Referral Hospitals (RRH) will be picked from the health facilities on return trips by NMS trucks during the routine scheduled deliveries for the viable medicines to these health facilities.

  4. The collected expired/obsolete medicines and medical supplies will be temporarily deposited and kept at NMS designated stores at 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 or any other facility licensed by NEMA for safe disposal by incineration and/or other appropriate methods.
 5. Expired medicines and medical supplies from PNFPs under JMS will be delivered to a store allocated by the DHOs, from where NMS will collect the items.
 6. This is a one off exercise and all DHOs, and the In-charge personnel at Health Facilities must ensure that these items are at the designated collection points to be picked during NMS delivery cycle for this Financial Year ending June 2018.

In addition, Ministry of Health has also tasked the National Drug Authority to establish a rigorous post market surveillance system which will ensure that all the medicines on the market, both imported and locally manufactured are closely monitored for safety, efficacy and quality.

With these measures, we would like to assure all Ugandans to have confidence in medicines prescribed and dispensed by all health facilities. Government is committed to providing the highest possible standard of health care to all people of Uganda.

I thank you all.

For God and My Country

Dr. Diana Atwine

Permanent Secretary

12th February 2018.