Medicine worth hundreds of millions of shillings was left exposed to the elements, drenched in rain, leading to the arrest of five individuals, including three from Busia District and two from the National Medical Stores (NMS). The incident has raised concerns about possible negligence in the handling of essential medicines meant for Health Centre IIIs in the district.
The arrested officials, which include the District Health Officer (DHO), the cold chain official, District Coordinator NMS, and two other NMS officials, were taken into custody and are under investigation for potential acts of negligence. The medicines, which included anti-malarial drugs and HIV/AIDS kits, were meant to support healthcare in the district.
Mr. Michael Kibwika, the Busia Resident District Commissioner (RDC), expressed disappointment over the NMS officials’ actions. He stated that it is disheartening that medicine intended for the people of Busia was left exposed to the elements, risking their quality and effectiveness. The arrest of these officials followed a breach in the standard procedure, as key stakeholders, including the RDC’s office, were not informed about the delivery of the medicines.
The suspects were apprehended by plainclothes police officers and were transported to Busia Central Police Station using a Ministry of Health departmental vehicle. The arrest was conducted in response to public outrage, with a video circulating on social media showing medicines supplied by the Ministry of Health being damaged by the rain.
Efforts to determine the extent of negligence and the safety of the medicines involved Mr. Julius Tusingwire, the Bukedi South Region Police Commander, Mr. Didas Byaruhanga, the Busia District Police Commander, and Mr. John Mulimba, the Minister of State for Regional Cooperation. Concerns were raised about the delicate nature of the medicines, which are required to be stored under specific conditions. Exposure to sunlight and subsequent rain posed a significant risk to their effectiveness.
Mr. Stephen Mugeni Wasike, the Busia District LC5 chairperson, questioned the decision to deliver the medicines to the District headquarters instead of directly to health centers. In response, Mr. Apollo Kananura, the Eastern Region NMS manager, explained that the medicines were initially brought to the district for verification before being distributed to health facilities. He acknowledged that SMS alerts were sent out, but any missed notifications may have been due to technical issues.
This incident occurred at a time when health facilities in the district were already grappling with the challenges of essential medicine shortages. Mr. Yahaya Juma, the District Councilor for Eastern Division in Busia Municipality, expressed his disappointment, emphasizing the critical need for essential medicines in the region’s healthcare facilities. The incident has underscored the importance of proper handling and delivery of medicines to ensure the well-being of the community.