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Mulago Hospital ED Dr Byarugaba Baterana

Parliament Queries Operations of Private Pharmacies in Mulago Hospital

by KP
posted onJanuary 14, 2022

The Parliamentary Committee on Health has picked interest in probing the existence and operations of private pharmacies inside Mulago National Referral Hospital.

First Pharmacy and Ecopharm are the two privately owned pharmacies selling ‘specialized’ drugs to patients in Mulago Hospital.

While meeting Dr. Byarugaba Baterana, the Executive Director, Mulago National Referral Hospital over the Budget Framework Paper for FY 2022/23 on Friday, 14, January, 2022, the Committee Vice Chairperson, Hon. Joel Ssebikali Yoweri sought clarifications on the ownership of these private pharmacies and how they accessed Mulago Hospital.

There have been general concerns that private pharmacies connive with public health facilities to sell government drugs to patients.

“As a committee we need to know how these private pharmacies accessed Mulago? Who owns them? How much money do they remit to Government and for how long will they stay there?” Ssekikali asked. He demanded that Mulago leadership avail the Committee with vital documents including Memorandum of Understandings (MOUs) that Mulago signed with the First Pharmacy and Ecopharm.

Mulago ED Dr. Baterana said that the two private pharmacies are legally operating inside Mulago after undergoing a competitive procurement process and that there is an MOU signed with Mulago to supply specialized drugs which cannot be obtained from National Medical Stores (NMS), a government institution mandated to procure, store and distribute medicines.

“There is a shortage of specialized drugs and that is why we sought the services of these private pharmacies to supply specialized drugs. There are also some patients who come looking for particular brands of drugs which can only be provided by the private pharmacy,” Dr. Baterana said, adding that both private pharmacies pay Shs3million each to Mulago Hospital as rent.

In 2019, President Yoweri Museveni ordered the National Drug Authority (NDA) to cancel licences of the two private pharmacies operating in Mulago. However, the directive, according to Dr. Baterana, was temporarily stayed following legal advice from the Attorney General.

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