The National Medical Stores (NMS) boss, Moses Kamabare, has called for more action to prevent non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in Uganda, saying it would reduce government expenses on drugs and save more lives.
Kamabare observed that, “More than 75 percent of all diseases in Uganda are preventable but cannot be prevented.”
He said there’s “need for healthy balance between peoples’ rights and their responsibilities in achieving good health.”
Kamabare made the remarks recently while meeting with the Minister of State for Public Service, Hon David Karubanga, who was on a familiarization tour at NMS headquarters in Entebbe.
Over the past decade, the global prevalence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer has increased dramatically in Uganda and other parts of Africa.
According to the Health Ministry, 3.2 percent of Ugandans have diabetes. 4,690 people died of diabetes in 2016.
1 in every 4 adults has high blood pressure and 3 among 4 of those with high blood pressure do not know that they have it.
Those with heart diseases stand at 6%.
350 people out of every 100,000 have cancer while 8,000 new cases of cancer are recorded annually. In 2018, 21,829 people died of cancer.
In order to prevent NCDs, the population is usually urged to engage in physical activities various forms like dancing, cycling, jogging, brisk walking and digging.
According to a national survey, most individuals with a NCD in Uganda were neither aware of their status/risk factors, nor took their medication regularly.
Kamabare called for a “sector wide approach to preventive health that needs to be mainstreamed in all Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government).”
He said the public should be more sensitized on “safe drinking water, helmet and safety belt use, condom use, family planning, healthy eating/exercise, mosquito net use, avoiding drink driving, prevention of crime, bye-laws on latrines and stray dogs, school health.”
Government spends more than Shs 100bn on procurement of drugs annually and even more on specialize treatment of high profile figures abroad.
Kamabare called for increased funding for all Essential Medicines and Health Supplies (EMHS) but most especially Mama Kits, ARVs, TB medicines and Laboratory supplies
He further toll the Minister that for higher level health facilities, the biggest challenge is poor quantification of their needs and non-adherence to procurement plans during ordering.
Kamabare said there was need to align cycle orders to procurement plans.
He further spoke about the irrational prescribing of medicines by health workers outside of Standard Clinical Guidelines which he said was causing artificial shortage.
“There is need for Ministry of Health to have errant health workers charged for disciplinary offences, in situations of non-compliance of the prescriptions to the clinical guidelines,’ he emphasised.
NMS is currently undertaking construction works for the new warehouse in Kajjansi which is expected to be completed by 2020.
“The increased demand for NMS services and Uganda being a land locked country requires that we start planning for increased storage space at the center. NMS requires 3 times the current storage capacity, to be comfortable with the new mandate,” he observed.
The current dry storage capacity is 12,350 pallet locations but is expected to increase by 30,000 pallet locations with the new warehouse facility.
The new facility will have 19 walk in cold rooms of positive storage (87% for vaccine storage and 13% other cold chain pharmaceuticals).
NMS’s fleet capacity is 25 trucks of which 13 are refrigerated and is planning an additional 10 in the next Financial Year. An onsite maintenance section for increased fleet availability is being set up at Kajjansi.
All trucks are installed with fleet tracking system
Kamabare said the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system which was launched in 2019 has helped in addressing supply chain challenges and intergrading warehouse operations, financials, payroll, procurements and mobile applications.
NMS’s main role is procurement, storage and distribution of drugs.