Report finds problems in Ugandan healthcare procurement methodsAn investigation has revealed that one of Uganda's most important providers of medical supplies has a severely flawed supply chain that could be causing hundreds of the country's citizens to die unnecessary deaths.

According to The New Vision, an investigation by the Audit General found that the National Medical Stores were over-importing some medications while remaining severely understocked on others. For example, the NMS had stocked enough Ranitidine, a drug used to treat ulcers, to last 27 years - despite the fact that the drug expires after less than four years, meaning that as much as 85 percent of the medication could go to waste. However, the NMS still does not stock enough quinine or other anti-malarial drugs to handle outbreaks of the devastatingly common disease.

The report blames NMS for using flawed techniques to estimate medical needs. As a result, the suppliers order too many of some medications while not ordering nearly enough of others. In addition to inefficient and error-ridden procurement methods, some drugs are also believed to have disappeared along the transportation chain. Further compounding the problem is the fact that the NMS is mandated by law to be the only supplier of medicines to government hospitals and dispensaries.

"There is also wastage of financial resources in the storage and destruction costs," the report continues. "An effort to coordinate procurement with third parties has been advocated by the NMS but the health ministry only promises to take it up."

According to the CIA World Factbook, Uganda is home to more than 32 million people - thousands of whom die every year from treatable or preventable diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, bacterial diarrhea and sleeping sickness. If the Ugandan health ministry makes good on its promises, improvements in the medical supply chain and procurement methods could significantly improve healthcare in the African nation.
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