WEST NILE. In an operation undertaken by National Drug Authority (NDA) from Monday to Friday this week, a total of 102 drug shops were closed in the West Nile region.

The closed drug shops were found not complying with licensing requirements in addition to dealing in unauthorized medicines.

The operation covered eight West Nile districts of Arua, Koboko, Maracha, Yumbe, Nebbi, Terego, Zombo and Madi-Okollo.

In total, 305 drug shops were inspected out of which 177 had valid licenses, 120 were unlicensed and 11 were illegal, whereas, a total of 160 boxes of assorted drugs were impounded out of which 28 boxes of medicine were collected by the owners, upon fulfilling the licensing requirements in Arua.

In the process of inspection, one drug shop operator was found in possession of government Uganda drugs and was arrested and detained at Arua Central Police Station for legal actions.

“NDA wishes to inform operators of drug outlets and the public that, it has the duty of surveilling medicines and other health products in Uganda to ensure that the population is dispensed with safe and quality medicine”, the national Head of enforcement for NDA, Mr Samuel Kyomukama said while addressing journalists after the operation on Friday in Arua city.

Kyomukama noted that the operations and post market surveillance activities are intended to protect the population from substandard, counterfeit and unauthorized medicines.

He warned the public against buying medicines from unlicensed drug shops, an act that he says can expose people to health risks, adding that any drug shop found selling government drugs will always be dealt with according to the law.

Mr Samuel KNational head of enforcement, Mr Samuel Kyomukama speaking to journalists on Friday in Arua city. PHOTO BY JOSEPH ODAMA

NDA acting manager for the West Nile region, Mr John Aleleu said some of the operators have been complaining of transport challenges during this Covid-19 period, a reason they claimed has made it difficult for them to travel for registration of their licenses to Arua.

Similarly some of the nurses running the drug shops have licenses that expired in 2019 and attributed restricted travels because of the Covid-19 pandemic as a challenge that fixed them not to renew their licenses timely.

On the issue of illegal drug deals across borders between Uganda, South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo, Mr Aleleu said porous borders in the West Nile region are promoting illegal importation and exportation of drugs that they also caution drug shop operators about.

“Most of the districts in West Nile are border districts which have both recognized and illegal routes. Whenever our inspectors go to the field, they keep getting medicines from DRC and South Sudan in drug shops. Once we come across them, we impound them and also caution the operators against buying and stocking unregistered medicines”, Mr Aleleu said.