The Permanent Secretary/Secretary to the Treasury, Ramathan Ggoobi, led a team from Ministry of Finance, Planning, and Economic Development on a familiarization tour of National Medical Stores. He was accompanied by Deputy PS of Finance Patrick Ocailap, the Acting Accountant General, Jennifer Muhuruzi and Laban Mbulamuli the Acting Director of Budget.
Speaking after the tour of the NMS warehouse, Ggoobi commended NMS on the ongoing construction works of the new NMS warehouse in Kajjansi which he says has saved the taxpayer huge sums of money. Once completed, the 70bn Kajjansi warehouse will be the largest Government-owned pharmaceutical warehouse on the African continent.
Ggoobi noted that it is unacceptable for NMS to continue delivering essential medicines and supplies to health centers, general, regional, and national referral hospitals without demanding accountability for previous deliveries. He made the statement after touring the head offices of National Medical Stores-NMS in Entebbe on Saturday. He also toured the new NMS warehouse in Kajjansi that is currently under construction.
This was after NMS board member Dr Medard Bitekyerezo and NMS General Manager Moses Kamabare noted that the agency's mandate is to buy, store, and distribute essential medicines and medical supplies to all public facilities as provided for in the NMS Act.
Kamabare cited the example of obstetrics and gynecological packages, commonly known as Mama kits, that contain five pairs of gloves, a mackintosh for the newborn baby, gauze, cotton wool among other items. He says NMS on average delivers 800,000 Mama kits every year, higher than the annual average of 650,000 mothers who deliver from public health facilities as reported by the health ministry. "But you will always hear people including MPs saying there are no Mama kits in the facilities," Kamabare said.
Kamabare said the agency is supplying Mama kits that can be used by 80 per cent of the women who deliver at public facilities. However, it is hard to prove that even those supplied were given to the right people, the mothers.
Ggoobi encourages the NMS board of directors to present amendments to the law and other measures to his office that will strengthen the agency and also promote accountability before, during, and after delivery of government procured drugs and supplies.
Paul Okware the head of stores and operations said the agency has the capability to store at least 20 million doses of various Covid-19 vaccines in its cold chain unit. The agency is currently storing 5 million doses of various Covid-19 vaccines such as the one jab vaccine Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer, Moderna, Sinovac, and AstraZeneca.
Kamabare added that the country will receive a total of 3 million doses of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine this weekend and a total of 13 million doses of various vaccines by end of the year. "So the vaccines are enough for all eligible persons. But we now need people to embrace vaccination," he said.
Ggoobi says NMS, the media, and other government officials among others should encourage Ugandans to embrace vaccination so that the economy is opened fully next year.