KAMPALA, UGANDA | NOW THEN DIGITAL — The National Drug Authority (NDA), in collaboration with the Uganda Police, recently conducted a focused enforcement operation in Ntoroko and Kyenjojo Districts.
As a result, seven individuals have been apprehended for their involvement in the illegal possession and sale of government drugs and medical equipment, with an estimated value exceeding 300 million Ugandan shillings.
Among the suspects are Samuel Lan Mwesige, who held a position of authority at Bweramule Health Centre Il, Mary Mbabazi, an enrolled nurse who also served as the stores in-charge for Bweramule Health Centre ll, and Alex Mbusa, a porter employed at Bweramule Health Center lll in Ntoroko district. Mbusa was discovered in possession of drugs at his residence in Karugutu town and admitted to selling them to individuals who transport them to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Additional arrests were made in Kyenjojo district, including Assistant Inspector of Police (AIP) Tuke Yusuf Katuramu, a police officer who also worked as a health officer at Kyenjojo Police Health Centre l, Denis Blessing, the proprietor of Denis Pharmaceuticals in Kyenjojo, Isingoma Isiahand, and Bwamabale Tom.
During this operation, which was guided by intelligence, a significant quantity of government drugs and medical supplies were seized. These included over 100 tins of antiretroviral drugs (ARVs), anti-malarials, 80 cartons of malaria test strips, 100 boxes of HIV and Hepatitis B test strips, various doses of unpacked antibiotics and paracetamol, as well as 12 jerricans of laboratory reagents, among other items.
Denis Blessing, the main facilitator of the illicit trade in government drugs within the region, had been posing as a pharmacist from Buhinga Hospital in Fort Portal. He was operating an illegal pharmacy known as Denis’s Pharmaceuticals and conducting unlicensed mobile distribution using motorcycles in Kitangwenda, Kyegegwa, and Kyenjojo, with a particular focus on remote areas such as Kyarushozi.
Authorities seized over 32 cartons of assorted drugs suspected to have been relabeled and repackaged government drugs from Denis’s Pharmaceuticals.
According to Abiaz Rwamwiri, the National Drug Authority spokesperson, the drugs and diagnostic kits that were recovered were not properly stored, which could potentially compromise their safety, quality, and efficacy.
Additionally, some personnel, such as a hospital causal worker who is incompetent, put the lives of Ugandans at great risk. Those arrested, including government workers, will be charged with corruption and abuse of office.
The suspects are currently being held at Fort Portal Police Station and will be produced in court to answer charges of unlawful possession of government stores, carrying on the business of a pharmacist without a license, and unlawful possession of classified drugs, all of which are contrary to various sections of the Penal Code, National Drug Policy and Authority (NDAP) Act, and NDA/P Act.