You’re Risking The Lives Of Our People’ Legislators Raise Alarm Over Expired Drugs At Entebbe Regional Referral Hospital

You’re Risking The Lives Of Our People’ Legislators Raise Alarm Over Expired Drugs At Entebbe Regional Referral Hospital

By Spy Uganda

Kampala: Legislators from the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) have expressed deep concerns regarding the management of drugs at Entebbe Regional Referral Hospital, prompted by revelations from the Auditor General’s report in December 2023. 

The report exposed the alarming practice of storing expired and active drugs within the same room at the health facility, posing significant risks of inadvertently prescribing expired drugs to patients.

According to the Auditor General, Section 8.2 of the Environmental and Social Management System (ESMS) mandates the removal and separate designation of expired items or drugs, yet Entebbe Hospital’s management failed to adhere to this protocol, neglecting to record and segregate expired drugs from the rest of the inventory.

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The findings incited strong reactions from several Members of Parliament led by Namugga Gorreth, Vice Chairperson of PAC, also the the representative member of parliament for Mawogola county. Namugga expressed dismay at the disregard for basic practices, suggesting renaming the facility “Entebbe Regional Poisoning Hospital” to reflect its apparent failure in maintaining drug safety standards.

”You are here to save a life, to treat people because amidst all those
challenges you have, you can’t take care of those small controls. So If you give expired drugs, should we call you Entebbe Regional Poisoning Hospital”?,  Namugga questioned.

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Equally, Amuria District Woman MP Susan Amero raised suspicions about the motives behind retaining expired drugs instead of disposing of them through the National Medical Stores (NMS), speculating on possible diversion of medicines to private clinics. Amero questioned the lack of prioritization in separating expired drugs, hinting at potential malpractice.

”I am so surprised and embarrassed. If they are expired, why should you keep them in the same store with the drugs that are working? That sends me to think that you wanted to smuggle them and that is a possibility”, Ameru argued.

In defense, Ismail Kizito Musoke, a Pharmacist at Entebbe Hospital, cited space constraints as a primary challenge. Musoke explained that due to limited storage space, expired drugs were isolated within the same room but not commingled with usable stock.

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However, Xavier Kyooma (Ibanda North) rebuffed this explanation, emphasizing the critical issue of mixing expired and active drugs without proper documentation, which poses serious risks to patient safety.

During the meeting on May 29, 2024, MPs also raised concerns about the hospital’s understaffing, with only 15-17% of the required staff serving a catchment population of 3.7 million people. John Bosco Nsubuga, Acting Director of Entebbe Hospital, acknowledged the staffing challenges and expressed gratitude for Parliament’s support in recruiting additional staff.

Namugga questioned the hospital’s regional referral status given its low staffing levels and failure to meet the expected bed capacity. The hospital’s staffing levels stand at 181 staff against the required 1198 staff, who are expected to serve a catchment population of 3.7 million people. Despite serving a large population, the hospital operates with a bed capacity far below the regional referral standards.

John Bosco Nsubuga, Acting Director, of Entebbe Regional Referral Hospital revealed that the hospital is grappling with very low staffing levels yet the facility is meant to offer care to patients from districts of; Wakiso, Kampala, Mpigi, Nakaseke, Kalangala and Butambala, thus making it the 3rd highest regional referral hospital after Jinja and Mbale.

”The staffing level at the moment oscillates between 15-17.4%, which is really very low. This means that with this kind of workload, it requires a lot of commitment. The 181 workers involve cleaners, drivers and those attending to patients”,Nsubuga said.

The MPs also scrutinized the hospital’s budget allocation of Shs28M, questioning its adequacy for development purposes, especially considering the hospital’s pivotal role in healthcare delivery.

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