The Parliamentary Committee on Health has directed the National Drug Authority (NDA) to streamline its requirements for operating a pharmacy to bring them in line with the Constitution and interests of the population.
The Committee was on Wednesday, 21 March 2018 meeting with the NDA Executive led by its Board Chairperson, Hon. Medard Bitekyerezo and the Executive Secretary of the Authority, Donna Asiimwe Kusemererwa.
NDA officials appeared before the Committee to respond to a petition by the Uganda Pharmacy Owners’ Association (UPOA) which they presented to the Speaker, Rebecca Kadaga, in January. The petitioners complained about the NDA’s ban on opening new pharmacies in Kampala and municipalities in the country on grounds that all areas were sufficiently served.
The pharmacy owners met the Committee on Tuesday to justify their petition protesting the conduct of the NDA on a number of issues.
The legislators tasked NDA to explain the new regulations, with Committee Chair, Hon. Dr. Michael Bukenya (NRM, Bukuya) and Kalungu West MP, Hon. Joseph Sewungu saying that the NDA policy cannot supersede the Constitution, which under Article 40(2) grants rights to Ugandans to practice their profession.
Hon Pentagon Kamusiime (NRM, Butemba County) said, “We need a clear guideline of operating a pharmacy within the country; NDA should comprehensively review the guidelines and make sure that they are in line with the Constitution. “
Hon. Barnabas Tinkasiimire (NRM, Buyaga West) added that there is need to understand the process one needs to go through to get a license to operate a pharmacy.
“The guidelines seem to favour someone who has a building, because they need to inspect premises; but what if you have no building, paid rent in advance and the Authority turns out to declare it unsuitable, what then do you do?” he asked.
Hon. Gaffa Mbwatekamwa (NRM, Kasambya County) noted that when a pharmacy owner has to relocate for different reasons, they have to reapply for a new license, “this leaves the owner in a precarious situation in the event that the Authority refuses to grant him or her another license.”
Mbwatekamwa nonetheless insisted that the Authority is in error citing cases where,“people apply for licenses to set up a pharmacy on a certain building and they are turned down yet an Asian is granted license to operate a pharmacy in the same premises”.
However, Kusemererwa argued that the drugs must be kept in a proper area and building.
“It is not right for the Committee to think that the Authority will always grant permission to whoever comes especially when they do not meet the requirements,” she said.
Committee Chair, Dr. Michael Bukenya, directed the Authority lift the restrictions on opening pharmacies in and around Kampala and to further review the guidelines for operating pharmacies to be in line with the Constitution.