The Ministry of Health has come out to clarify that there is no consignment of drugs that are stuck at Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) headquarters as alleged in the media.
It follows an article carried in the New Vision on October 14 that stated that a consignment of drugs donated to Uganda by India were delayed by the tax body over clearance issues.
But according to the Senior Public Relations Officer at the Ministry of Health, Emmanuel Ainebyoona, the said drugs have not yet arrived in Uganda.
Drugs worth USD 2 million were donated to Uganda by the former Vice President of India, Mohammad Hamid Ansari during his visit to Uganda in February last year. The consignment contains over 2,724 cartons of pharmaceutical products and is being handled by shipping firm, Maersk.
“A consignment of drugs and equipment donated by the Indian government worth $2m has not yet arrived in the country as portrayed by the Sunday Vision of October 14,” Ainebyoona said in a letter carried in the same daily.
The first two consignments with the drugs are currently at Mombasa and the Ministry of Health has appointed an agency known as Afro-freight to handle to clearance process, the Ministry of Health Senior PRO said.
“Therefore it is not true that the drugs arrived in Uganda on October 1 and are stuck at the URA backyard in Nakawa as earlier alleged”.
The Ministry says together with the Indian High Commission in Uganda, National Drug Authority (NDA) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it has been following up on the donation.
The Pharmaceutical Division under the Ministry has also been following the shipment of the drugs and will continue up to when they reach their end users who are the health facilities and patients, Ainebyoona added.
He adds that NDA issued a verification letter on July 25 to the Indian High Commission in Uganda to help kick start the shipment process.
The clarification by Ministry of Health follows a similar statement by URA on October 19 in which the tax body stated that “there is no pending clearance of drugs in our custody as stated in the media”.
URA said that drugs are not dutiable and that all clearance of drugs is handled in fast lane, unless it is a restricted product that must get final clearance from NDA.
“From our records, we have cleared all the drug consignments that were declared to Customs and there is no pending cargo in out country,” URA said.