Section 33 (1)(c) of the National Drug Policy and Authority Act, Cap 206 prohibits the advertisement and publication of information that aimed to promote the use of a drug for prevention or treatment of any disease or relating to enhancing human potency.
and promotion of drinks with claims of health benefits has been stopped, unless
approved by the National Drug Authority (NDA), Uganda National Bureau of
Standards (UNBS) and Uganda Communications Commission (UCC).
soft drinks’, have increasingly been marketed as ‘health drinks’, ‘energy
boosters’ and ‘currants of several diseases’, through television, radio and on
The agencies say these advertisements, which exaggerate the therapeutic
capability of the drinks being advertised are not only misleading to the
public but actually putting lives at risk. For any such drink to be
advertised or marketed as so, it must have approval from UNBS, which satisfied
that it is safe for human consumption and NDA that must prove that it has
therapeutic benefits as claimed.
The UCC, as the regulator of the electronic media, will then
give it a go-ahead. NDA regularly publishes health-related items for
promotional purposes and the latest update of the list was made on February 4th,
2020. It features more than 590 items including herbal medicines and
health drinks as well as conventional medical products and materials, both
imported and locally manufactured.
Moreover, some of them, especially the visual content on TV and social media,
portray inappropriate content. Section 33 (1)(c) of the National Drug
Policy and Authority Act, Cap 206 prohibits the advertisement and publication
of information that aimed to promote the use of a drug for the prevention or
treatment of any disease or relating to enhancing human potency.
In addition, Section 5 (1) to (5) in the Food and Drugs Act, Cap 278 prohibits
the false labelling or advertisement of food or drug. Some of the drinks
manufacturers claim that the products are herbal, yet they add conventionally
medical substances like Viagra, which is dangerous if the content mix is not
tested by competent labs.
The authorities are also concerned about the content in some adverts, which is
considered inappropriate. NDA Secretary, David Nahamya says some companies
have been banned from production and the public warned against taking the
products of Embaluka and Mega Power, which were found unsafe to human
health. But he says others have since complied after being engaged and
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Media houses, especially in the rural areas get a bigger part of their revenues
from adverts of manufacturers of herbal medicines and traditional
healers. However, UCC says all media houses must abide by the rules
because the effect of violating standards can even affect the export
UCC says it has found it difficult to sanction media houses because they say,
the products that are brought for advertising bear the UNBS Quality Mark and to
them, this is enough that the product is safe. However, Irene Kaggwa,
the UCC Managing Director says that it will now no longer be an excuse.
Every media house must confirm that both the NDA and the UNBS have cleared the item for promotion, or else the radio, TV or other electronic platforms will be penalized.
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UNBS says that they have equipped the labs with the capacity to test the contents
of drinks and foods, but that the mandate on the curative products is with the
NDA. UNBS Acting Chief Executive Officer David Livingstone Ebiru
says UNBS only certifies that what is on the label matches what is in the
content, and that it has no bad health effects when consumed.