Press Statement on Impounded Government Drugs

Thursday, May 2, 2019



Press Statement on Impounded government drugs, substandard and counterfeit medicines  

Hon. Dr Jane Ruth Aceng 

Minister of Health  

May 2, 2019

Press Statement on Impounded government drugs, substandard and counterfeit medicines  


Thursday, May 2, 2019. The Ministry of Health would like to inform the general public that it has been working jointly with National Drug Authority (NDA), Uganda Police Force, and Health Monitoring Unit (HMU) to curb and clear the country of illegal drug dealers, on substandard drugs, counterfeit medicines and drugs embossed: “Government of Uganda, Not for Sale.”


As a result, through this collaboration, the Ministry conducted about five operations between March and April 2019.

The main objectives of the joint operations were as follows;

i.To intercept dealers in medicines intended for public health facilities with intentions to sell them to the private sector or export them to other countries. 

ii.To save tax payers money by stopping medicines pilferage from public health facilities. 

iii.To clamp down on a racket involved in deliberate alteration/re-labeling of expired medicine and prevent its use by the population.

iv.To crack down on dealers in substandard, and counterfeit medicines.


We would like to report that as a result of the two months’ operations, the joint teams impounded 981 boxes of assorted medical items valued at Shs 490, 500, 000 UGX of which 165 boxes had medicines intended for public health facilities. 


This pilferage compromises the quality of health service delivery hence discrediting government programmes and yet government continues to increase the medicines budget annually and improve the supply chain. In the next Financial year 2019/2020, the medicines budget has been increased by 24% from UG. Shs300bn to UG.Shs396bn. Government has also ensured that there is no funding gap for ARVs and anti-malarials.    






Our operations begun in Eastern Uganda and Kampala and will move to the entire country. The teams conducted operations in five major shift markets in the four districts of Bukedea, Soroti, Bulambuli, and Serere and impounded 31 boxes of medicine while apprehending 19 suspects. 


In these shift markets, there are hawkers of medicine who have no knowledge in handling medicine, hence exposing the unsuspecting population to health risks with their unverified claims. Such individuals sell substandard, fake, and counterfeit medicines.


Unfortunately, some individuals have taken-up hawking of medicine as a livelihood. 

We call upon the public to join efforts with the Ministry of Health and NDA to eliminate this vice in shift markets, in parks, buses and other public places. If you stop buying drugs from hawkers, they will abandon the vice.


The teams also conducted inspections of 17major drug shops in Manafwa, Serere, Budaka, Ngora, Mbale, Kaberamaido, and Soroti to weed out illegal operators. During the exercise 12 drug shops were closed, 12 boxes of medicines impounded, and 10 suspects apprehended and handed over to police.

 In Kaberamaido, a drug shop in the names of Healing Drug Shop had a box of coartem tablets with doses for 186 patients that were donations not intended for sale, but were being sold to the community.


In Kampala, we conducted four major operations. Namely;

a)Intercepted 3 trailers with 716 boxes of assorted medicines suspected to be unauthorized medicines or medicines labelled Government of Uganda, “Not for sale” intended to be exported to other neighboring countries. 

i.One trailer incepted at Clock Tower had 466 boxes of assorted medicine with no authorization for export by NDA.

ii.At Lubowa, another trailer had 183 boxes of assorted medicines of which 34 boxes were discovered with Lumartem DT (ArtemetherLumefantrin) labelled Government of Uganda, “Not for sale”.

iii.The same truck, had 198 packs of suspected counterfeit Postinor 2 (Lovonorgestrel 0.75mg), 42 tins of 1000 tablets of Quinine Bisulphate 300mg and 5 tins of Cotrimaxazole tablets

iv.At Gaagaa Bus terminal 67 boxes were discovered of which 12 had medicines labelled Government of Uganda, “Not for sale”.


b)Arrested a racket of dealers on E-Tower along Kampala Road involved in deliberate alteration/re-labeling of batch numbers, expiry dates and manufacturing dates. We impounded 26 boxes of assorted medicine, a box of assorted documents and 2 boxes of equipment. 


c)Inspected drug shops in the Kampala Divisions (Kawempe and Makindye) to weed out illegal operators. During the exercise 71 drug shops were closed, and 90 boxes of medicines impounded.

d)A night operation was held in Kampala and surrounding areas (Nalumunye, Kitemu, Salama, Kyanja, Rubaga and Nansana where106 boxes of assorted medicines were impounded from 5 homes. The impounded medicines had 91 boxes of medicines labelled “Government of Uganda. These had doses for 7,017 patients as indicated below.


i.Anti-malarials (Lumartem/Combiart/coartem).

ii.Anti-biotics (Capreomycin/Rentrim)

iii.HIV/AIDS drug (e.gAtazanavir/ritonauir)

iv.Donated Anti-fungal drugs from India (FluconazoleIV)

v.Other items included body bags,IV cannulas, sutures and absorbent gauze rolls.



 Arrests and Charges

Six culprits were arrested, Namely;

i.George Makubuya in Rubaga being held at Old Kampala Police Station.

ii.Frank Namanya and OnesmusNimuhwezi being held at Nansana Police Station.

iii.Deo Mburakeye of Salama being held at Katwe Police Station.

iv.Nalongo Deborah Nalule and Joseph Babihize of Kyanja held at Kira road Police Station.


All the apprehended culprits must face the law under the provisions of the NDP/A Act as investigations regarding the source of medicines intended for public health facilities are still ongoing.



The Ministry of Health, appeals to all stakeholders and the wider public not to steal or sell medicines meant for the population of Uganda.

The general public is also requested to guard the medicines supplied by government so that they are accessed by the population at no cost as indicated on the packages, “Not for Sale”

Dealers in medicine are advised to follow NDA regulatory requirements whereas health workers should desist from involving in pilferage of medicines from public health facilities.

The general public should be on the lookout, and should not pay for medicines labelled, “Government of Uganda Not for Sale,” if you come across anybody dealing in such, please report to Police or NDA.


We extend our appreciation and thanks to public, NDA Uganda Police Force and HMU for their role during this ongoing operation, and appeal to the general public to be vigilant and report more of such cases on our toll free lines 0800 101 999 and 0800100066 


I Thank You 

For God and My Country 




Hon. Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng 


Minister of Health