Ministers Clash Over Stock Out of Essential Drugs in Hospitals

The Minister of Health Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng and her counterpart, Henry Musasizi, the State Minister for Finance in charge of General Duties have disagreed in Parliament over factors occasioning stock out of essential drug supplies in hospitals.

During plenary sitting on Wednesday, Dr. Aceng presented several factors including inefficiency of the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development to timely release the required funds to facilitate the National Medical Stores – NMS to effectively deliver drug supplies.

The National Medical Stores is a Government agency under the Ministry of Health mandated to procure, store and distribute human medication and health-related consumable items to all health units in the country. It has a predetermined schedule of delivering drugs to hospitals twice in every 60 days in six cycles of the year.

Dr. Aceng revealed that the current challenge of non-adherence to the delivery schedules and stock out of essential medicines dates back to 2020 due to failure by the National Medical Store to receive funds in time to releases from the Ministry of Finance amid a series of reminders.

Further, Dr. Aceng cited the rigidity of the Integrated Financial Management Systems – IFMS, an electronic cash transfer system that was introduced by the Ministry of Finance effective FY 2019/2021 on operational funds of the National Medical Store.

Dr. Aceng noted that since September 2022, the instructions by the Ministry of Health for the transmission of funds from the Ministry of Finance to the National Medical Store’s e-cash account has not been honoured thus curtailing delivery of medicines.

But in response, Musasizi accused the National Medical Store for undermining the Integrated Financial Management Systems – IFMS, a mandatory requirement for all the different Government votes as dictated by the Public Finance Management Act, 2015.

The Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa, technically avoided responses from Members of Parliament on the matter to contain tempers. He directed the Prime Minister, Robinah Nabbanja, also the head of Government business to convene an urgent meeting to address anomaly between the two Ministries.

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