More than 180 drug shops operating illegally have been shut down while 416 boxes of assorted medicine worth more than Shs115m confiscated in Western Region, revealed Mr Samuel Kyomukama, the Head of Enforcement at the National Drug Authority (NDA).
During the five-day operation mounted in six districts to clamp down on illegal drug shops, it was discovered that the outlet operators were flouting laws governing drug shop standard operating procedures in Hoima, Kikuube, Masindi, Kiryandongo, Kyankwanzi and Kyenjojo that constitute part of NDA’s western region.
Mr Kyomukama told a presser at the regional office in Hoima city that the closed drug outlets were found either manned by unqualified personnel or operating without a legal trading licence from the Authority.
The enforcer ordered all illegal drug shop proprietors to halt their operations immediately until they fulfill the licensing requirements while those whose drug stocks have been impounded have to seek guidance from the NDA Regional Office in Hoima city on how they can repossess them.
Such operations are conducted to improve compliance levels in licensing requirements of drug outlets across the country, more so, to save people and livestock from consuming poisonous drugs due either expiry or wrong prescription.
On the public, Mr Kyomukama urged them to report to the authorities any person operating a drug shop illegally.
During the same presser, Mr Chris Luzinda, the NDA Regional Manager, said that Kyankwanzi district was found to have many illegalities pertaining to drug shop operations adding that the culprits are duped into the business by some people yet well aware that it is unlawful to run drug shops short of the authorisation from the regulator.
The manager said human or veterinary medicines in the hands of unqualified persons and stored in unsuitable conditions expose famers’ animals and the population to wrong prescription, drug resistance, loss of domestic income and other health related risks or complications including death of people and animals.
Mr Luzinda advised that buying medicine from drug shops with a well displayed trading licence from NDA will help fight illegal operations as well as promote good public health.
He said that as stakeholders’ engagements continue for both private and public drug operators creating awareness about the legal procedures followed in operating drug shops, NDA will as well continue mounting operations against the non-adherers.
Mr Luzinda pointed out that motorcycle taxi (boda boda) riders are pivotal in being stumbling blocks in NDA’s operations saying they assist illegal drug shop operators by secretly informing them about the regulator’s operation movements in particular areas.
Mr Frederick Byenume, the Hoima District Health Inspector, said the Lake Albert shoreline is awash with illegal drug operators and with poor drug storage facilities.
Nevertheless, he said continuous sensitisation will continue until people change their mindset for a healthy life.
Ms Sylvia Nalumaga Balyesiima, the Hoima City Deputy Mayor, urged the health technocrats to also focus on drug consumers who she said medicate themselves even without checking the expiry date on the medicine they take.
She advised that the general public should use health and medical experts to the highest degree possible for matters related to drugs and never hesitate to report any case related to drug abuse to the authorities for legal action.
SP Robert Ssensalusemata, the Human Resource Officer at Hoima District Central Police Station, advised people to always have an observant eye in every detail of any drug outlet they enter for health service reminding them that drug abuse is harmful to life.
“If you don’t trust the drug shop where you are buying drugs from, make sure that you consult the available experts near you.”
Section 14 (1) of the National Drug Policy and National Drug Authority Act 1993 Chap 206 states that “ A person who carries on the business of a pharmacist without a licence issued under this section commits an offence and is liable to a fine not exceeding one million shillings or to imprisonment not exceeding five years or to both.”