The Uganda National Drugs Authority (NDA) has closed over 830 drug outlets in the Northern Region for operating illegally.
The drug shops include two pharmacies, 48 human and veterinary drug shops, and 16 clinics among others.
NDA has also recovered and impounded stolen medical equipment and government drugs worth UGX 1.7 Billion Shillings during the two-week-long operation conducted in the Lango and Acholi Sub Regions.
Samuel Kyomukama, the NDA Head of Enforcement identified the suspects as Dr. Alobo Gastone, a Gynecologist, and Lecturer at Lira University.
Dr. Alobo who is being held at Lira Central Police Station was faulted for operating an illegal pharmacy but further investigation found him in possession of drugs labeled ‘’Government of Uganda’’.
Others arrested include James Lubangakene and Christopher Odong Langoya from Kitgum Municipality.
The two were arrested from Akfranc Medicine drug shop, which is privately owned by Robert Akena, the Pharmacy Technician at Kitgum General Hospital.
Akena who doubles as the Principal Store Keeper at Kitgum District Health Stores is currently on the run.
Government drugs including anti-malarial and bacterial, antibiotics, and painkillers among others were recovered following a thorough search in his facility.
The NDA also recovered from his facility medical equipment and diagnostics such as test kits, safety gear, PPEs, COVID-19 supplies, baby weighing scales, and an oxygen concentrator and its accessories. Others recovered are; kidney cups, a portable autoclave, a digital baby scale, an instrument trolley donated by USAID, drip stands, a bone operation set, six surgical trays, and two digital thermometers, among others.
Also arrested include, Kenneth Watmon a Laboratory Technician at Kitgum General Hospital who was found keeping boxes of medicines labeled ‘’Government of Uganda’’ and not for sale at his home.
Samuel Kyomukama, the NDA Head of Enforcement told journalists during a press briefing in Gulu City on Friday that suspects are all being held in different cells in the Lango and Acholi Sub Regions.
He explained that the operation, which was conducted jointly by the police and sister security agencies was held in the seventeen districts constituting Acholi and Lango Sub Regions.
The operation was part of the NDA’s routine market surveillance activities aimed at protecting the human and animal populations from drugs and healthcare products that are substandard, counterfeit, unauthorized, uncontrolled, and unlicensed outlets.
According to Kyomukama, the suspects have been charged with unlawful possession of classified drugs, unlawful possession of a government store, unlawful operations of pharmacies, abuse of office, corruption, and causing financial loss.
Damalie Nachuha, the Aswa River Region Police Commander explained that the operations were both normal and intelligence-led. She added that more investigations are ongoing against the suspects.
Abiaz Rwamwiri, the NDA Spokesperson said that the exhibits were yet to be transported to Kampala where they can be kept safely as they await the court process.
Thomas Ojok, the Kitgum General Hospital Administrator says shortages of drugs at the facility could have been fueled by such unscrupulous individuals.
David Obol Arwai, the Kitgum District Chairperson regretted the report noting that it calls for more investigation and swift actions against the perpetrators.