Fri. Nov 22nd, 2019

Uganda:Medical workers using coffins to transport stolen drugs

-Several patients are stranded at the hospital and drugs are being stolen by the health workers using coffins.
The Fort Portal referral hospital mortuary which is being used as an exit rout for stolen drugs (Picture by Wilson Asiimwe)

Fort Portal – Next time you meet a truck carrying a coffin in Fort Portal, don’t be quick to mourn. The truck might not be carrying a dead body, but stolen drugs from health centres.
It has come to the attention of the State House monitoring unit that medical workers at the Fort Portal Regional Referral Hospital have devised a new method of transporting stolen drugs from the hospital using coffins.
Collins Karugaba, the head of investigations in the unit said on Wednesday, during a press briefing, they had arrested a mortuary attendant in connection with stolen drugs.
“During our routine monitoring, we discovered that health workers connive with the mortuary attendant to pack stolen drugs in coffins, which coffins are then taken through the mortuary and then transported to different destinations,” said Karugaba.
The mortuary at Fort Portal Hospital is near Buhinga Stadium and can be accessed through the southern route of Fort Portal- Kamwenge road.
Karugaba said investigations into the massive theft of drugs from the hospital and health centres has been launched.
He explained that the investigation stems from the increasing concerns about theft of drugs that have marred the hospital in the recent past.
Recently, the staff of the hospital were on the run after the Police and other security agencies recovered stolen drugs loaded in sacks being transported on a bus.
Karugaba said most of the drugs stolen from the hospital are allegedly sold in the Eastern parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Owagage Mpaata, the deputy director of the State House monitoring unit said that they had arrested another health worker at Kasenda HealthCentre III for allegedly stealing government drugs.
“We received complaints from the Resident District Commissioner (RDC) for Kabarole about drug thefts at the health unit, where we conducted a drug audit and discovered that several drugs were missing,” Mpaata said.
He said that 104 boxes of anti-malaria drugs could not be accounted for by the in-charge of the health centre and that they had handed him over to the Police.
“We also discovered that the in-charge is never at the health facility. In a month, he works less than 10 days and we have asked the chief administrative officer to take administrative action against him as we take legal action,” Mpatta said.
Mpatta did not disclose the identities of all the suspects for fear of interfering with the ongoing investigations by the Police.
Stephen Asiimwe, the RDC for Kabarole, said that Fort Portal Regional Referral Hospital has in the past, lost anti-retrovirals ARVs and Coartem, which affected service delivery to patients.
“Several patients are stranded at the hospital and drugs are being stolen by the health workers using coffins. This is a very bad practice and we shall arrest all the suspects and hand them to police,” Asiimwe said.

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