Expired Drugs Send Panic in Nwoya

23 Oct 2010 12:16

Audio 1

Nwoya districts residents are treading with caution following reports that Anaka the only referral hospital in the district has a stock of expired drugs.

Uganda Radio Network has established that the expired stocks include consignments of Oral Rehydration Salt, Anti Retrovirals, Chloroquinical and Salfadoxin.

Jessica Odong, a resident of Anaka trading center, says that even more shocking are the reports showing that patients turning up at the hospital are being given the expired drugs.

While citizens are glad that the authorities have finally taken notice of the expired drugs, what worries them is, what action will the officials take to ensure that drugs dispensed to them are safe.

Patrick Okello Oryema, the Nwoya district LC5 chairman, says the district council has directed the district health officer to immediately produce measures to dispose off the expired drugs. He says that mebers of the community should work with the authorities to track the expired drugs.

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Alex Latincan, the Stores Manager at the hospital, explained that while it is true there is a huge consignment of expired dugs, none was being given to patients. He said the drugs also include those collected from the lower health units.

According to Lantican, the drugs including VDE for treating scabies have been pilling up since the war broke out in the region.

Latincan added that over the next week, he would sort the drugs for weighing to determine its quantity so that they could plan its disposal.

Justin Olwedo, the medial superintendent, says the hospital lacks the money needed to dispose off the drugs. The situation has been aggravated by the lack of an incinerator at the hospital.

He explained that they are planning to transport the medical supplies to Nakasongola for disposal, but added that they still lack the money.

Apart from major medical facilities like Mulago national referral hospital, St Francis Hospital, Nsambya and Kibuli, most hospitals in the country do not have their own incinerators to dispose what are described as special material wastes.

Uganda has only one approved incinerator in Nakasongola, which is owned by the military.

Olwedo said the Nakasongola facility charges 200,000 shillings per kilo of waste; an amount he said prohibits most health facilities from seeking to dispose their waste.

The National Drugs Authority, the authorized regulator of quality and safety of health care products in the country demands a letter from any individual or health facility seeking to destroy the expired drugs before they are assessed and weighed.

The body also charges a fee of 50,000 shillings per hour for the supervision of safe disposal of the pharmaceutical wastes.

Meanwhile, Latincan says they have drawn up along term plan to help minimize the expiry of drugs. He explains that soon, Anaka hospital will start ordering for only the most demanded drugs under the stock control program to reduce the quantity of drugs that expire before they are used.

The World Health Organization, warns that improper healthcare waste disposal poses public health risks due to environmental pollution: impaired air quality, storm water contamination of water courses or when people and children rummage through raw waste stockpiles.

As a result, it says the best environmental option for pharmaceutical destruction is purpose-built high temperature incineration with adequate flue gas cleaning among other approved methods.