By Dr. Stephen Lutoti
Dear Pharmacist colleagues and friends, it is well documented that major issues challenging health-care leaders and experts include; ensuring convenient and timely access to care, patient safety and optimum health outcomes, quality of medicines, financial sustainability and defining scopes of practice for different health professionals. The consequences of non-availability, inaccessibility and inappropriate use of medicines in both public and private health facilities are common but can be prevented, minimized or even eliminated.
The costs of these events are thought to be equal to or more than the costs of medicines themselves. We as pharmacists play an important role in the debate and resolution of these issues. The ordinary members of the public, stakeholders in health service delivery and central government officials look at us for solutions due to our unique pharmaceutical knowledge but when they realize that we are not so much concerned by these issues, they try to devise and turn to other means of addressing the pharmaceutical challenges faced.
Every active Pharmacist in Uganda can give testimony that there are many opportunities but also a myriad of challenges to the practice of Pharmacy in Uganda.
There is no doubt that we have had some difficult years for the profession. There are lots of legislative changes being proposed particularly the proposal to split the NDA and create a new Animal drugs Authority, pending National Medicines and Food Authority Bill, National health insurance bill among others. The stakes have been high in debating issues to gain consensus on each of this bills and the processes are still on going. We have also observed challenges in pre-service training of Pharmacy professionals at Universities through council supervision reports and experiences shared by those in training.
There are also challenges with practical training of intern pharmacists and their registration as pharmacists after completion of internship; Questions on governance of the National Drug Authority, National medical stores and Ministry of health particularly as regards accountability, transparency, strategic visioning, equity and inclusiveness keep heating headlines in social media debates among members of the society, other health professionals and the general public; there are uncountable media reports of essential medicines stock outs, theft and procurement challenges in our public health facilities, low visibility of pharmacists in the public health system and irrational use of medicines.
We are endlessly being challenged with encroachment on the pharmacy profession and practice field by local and foreign non pharmacy professionals not only in community pharmacy settings but also hospital, regulatory environments and manufacturing facilities; sadly reports of mistrust in the quality, safety and efficacy of medicines on the market in addition to reliance on imports to meet the medicine needs of Uganda keep defining Uganda’s Pharmaceutical sector. This is not time for finger pointing.
This is the time to stand together as Pharmaceutical Experts/Think-tanks and change the course of events in this country for better pharmacy practice legislations and better practice. The investors must get value of their investment.
We need policies and regulations that encourage growth of Uganda’s Pharmaceutical sector. With my values of commitment, hard work, courage, innovativeness, dedication and youthful vitality, I would like to offer myself for the service of the Representative of Pharmaceutical Society of Uganda to the National Drug Authority. Together we can redirect Medicines regulation and Pharmacy practice in Uganda to meet the needs of clients -the Ugandan people and foster growth of the Pharmacy profession. Together we can ensure quality, Safe and efficacious drugs are available at all times to the population of Uganda.
Dr.Lutoti Stephen is a pharmacist and is contesting to become as PSU rep. to NDA