A joint operation by the police and the Uganda National Drug Authority (UNDA) seized a consignment of stolen government drugs in Kyenjojo and Ntoroko districts valued at over Shs 300 million.
Vincent Twesige, Rwenzori West police spokesperson told journalists at a media briefing on Monday that seven suspects, including a police officer, are currently in custody at Fort Portal Central police station on charges related to the illegal possession of government supplies, operating pharmacies without licenses, abuse of office and negligence on duty among others.
The suspects are assistant superintendent of police (ASP), Tuke Katuramu, the in charge of Kyejonjo police health centre II, Denis Blessing, the owner of Blessing Pharmacy in Kyenjojo, Tom Bwebale, Isiah Isingoma, Allan Samuel Mwesige, the in charge of Bweramule health centre III, Mary Mbabazi, a storekeeper at the same health facility, and Alex Mbusa, a porter at Bweramule health centre III, all from Ntoroko district.
Twesige highlighted the role of vigilant members of the public in the arrest of the suspects, saying they provided crucial information to law enforcement about the ongoing illegal sale of government drugs.
Abiaz Rwamwiri, the spokesperson of UNDA, explained that during an intelligence-led operation in Ntoroko district, Mbusa was found in possession of numerous boxes of drugs hidden in the ceiling of his house. Mbusa later confessed that some of the 'brokers' he was working with were selling the drugs on the black market in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Rwamwiri revealed that the seized drugs included antimalarials, HIV/antivirals, Hepatitis B testing kits, and other essential medications. He also expressed concern that many of the drugs were stored at high temperatures, contrary to the recommended standards of storing them in cool and dry places for safety, which could have harmful effects on recipients.
"Blessing was operating an illegal pharmacy, and this operation uncovered an illegal distribution chain of drugs in remote areas. He believed our operations wouldn't reach these areas, but upon his arrest, several drugs were recovered from his stores," Rwamwiri added.
He noted that the actions of the suspects were depriving the community of much-needed drugs, particularly antiretrovirals, which he said could lead to drug resistance among the intended beneficiaries.