The Uganda Medical Association led by the Chair, Drug & Therapeutics Committee, Dr. Nandawula Kanyerezi Mutema have asked Parliament to intervene and block the move by the National Drug Authority (NDA) stopping them from dispensing drugs to patients.
While appearing before the Health Committee of Parliament, the group revealed that in May this year, the Secretary NDA issued a circular directing that private hospitals and medical centres should “only stock a limited number of emergency medicines as shall be published by NDA and refer their patients to the nearest pharmacy to have their medicines properly dispensed in accordance with the law”.
Dr. Nandawula told the committee members that the move by NDA pushed by Pharmacy owners is only aimed at enhancing business growth of pharmacies but affecting the safety of the patients and their ability to access safe medical care, medication and health maintenance.
The doctors said that the NDA has taken it upon themselves based on misinterpretation of the Medical and Dental Practitioners Act Cap 272, section 31 (3) to determine that all private medical practitioners cannot have medicines in their premises to dispense and will have to work with an emergency medicine list drawn by them and otherwise refer all patients to retail pharmacies to get their prescriptions filled.
“This is clearly a misrepresentation of the Act and of what medical practioners do. Medical practitioners do not stockpile, retail or wholesale drugs; they have drugs in their medical facilities to treat patients under their care,” Nandawula said.
“Limiting private hospitals and medical centres to an emergency drugs list is unconstitutional as it infringes on the rights of the practioners to practice and the rights of the patients to comprehensive health care.”
Nandawula noted that worse of all, NDA is blind to the fact that these days, “pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and in most cases dispensing non-medical staff running most pharmacies have taken the liberty to diagnose, prescribe, dispense and follow up on the unsuspecting patient that walks through their doors.
The Committee Chairperson and Bukuya county MP, Michael Bukenya noted that the committee will meet all stakeholders on the matter and later make recommendations to the whole house to take a final decision.