How First Pharmacy, EcoPharm Defaulted Millions In Rent Despite Milking Billions From Mulago Hospital Patients
By Uganda Online Media
Kampala: Two private pharmacies including Ecopharm and First pharmacy which have been operating in Mulago National Referral hospital were evicted following a directive by Health Minister, Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng to the National Drug Authority (NDA) to kick out all private pharmacies in government facilities.
Abiaz Rwamiri, the NDA Public Relations Officer confirmed that First Pharmacy vacated shortly after the directive was issued on Friday while Ecopharm left on Saturday evening adding that all other pharmacies in government hospitals across the country will be closed too.
Despite the two private pharmacies having milked billions from poor Ugandans at Mulago hospital, Health Monitoring Unit investigations indicate that Ecopharm alone had defaulted up to Shillings135million in rent by November 2021 while First pharmacy had defaulted Shillings 67.5million.
In 2019 President, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni ordered the closure of private pharmacies over escalating concerns of milking needy patients and allegations of doctors acting as brokers for private drug sellers a Mulago hospital.
However, the Ministry of health and NDA didn’t enforce the directive until last week when Mulago hospital executive director Dr.Byaruhanga Baterana was arrested by the state house health monitoring unit officials and questioned over embezzlement and mismanagement.
According to NDA, Baterana is accused of poorly executing MOUs with the two private pharmacies causing financial loss to the national referral hospital. The two pharmacies have been operating since 2018 without licenses from NDA, the Board Chairman, Dr. Merdad Bitekyerezo said.
According to the State House, Health Monitoring Unit, investigations unearthed suspicious procurement processes of medicines and other medical supplies done by private health facilities.
“The investigating team also conducted verification of supplies allegedly procured from First Pharmacy by the hospital. The verifications were prompted upon establishing from IFMS payment statements obtained from the Accountant General indicating that during the period under investigation, Mulago had paid First Pharmacy a total of shs1.4 billion as payments for medicines procured and supplied under emergency orders presumably after running out of National Medical Stores supplied stocks,” Dr.Namara said
Furthermore, Baterana along with other Mulago hospital top officials are also accused of failing to account for over UGX28.8 billion which allegedly disappeared in thin air and has since been interdicted from his office to pave way for the ongoing investigations.