Focus on: UGANDA’s HEALTH ISSUES

A space open to contribution articles from everywhere, this column aims to serve as an observatory of challenging health issues in Uganda from a comprehensive view encompassing the policies, strategies and practices of all involved actors 

image credit: WHO

Private Players in the Growth Paradox of Health Service Provision and Advancement in Uganda by Michael Ssemakula

This paper focuses on the role of private actors in the direct provision of health care in Uganda, through provision of health related goods and services such as research, treatments, human resources, and healthcare financing. It maintains that, while the health sector system of Uganda is predominantly covered by the private health care in its current state, this has mostly benefited the rich and middle class citizenry with higher disposable incomes who can afford the high charges on treatment. The paper also stresses that much as the private profit motivated forces hike fees on health care, this can also be worsened and perpetuated by the public entities

The Global Implications of the Gag Rule and its Manifestations on Reproductive Health Rights in Uganda by Denis Bukenya and Michael Ssemakula

This paper examines the adversative effects of the Mexico City Policy (or Global Gag Rule) and the overflow-stream of fears towards health that it has drawn to the health rights advocates and NGOs in Uganda. The paper dissects into issues surrounding the policy especially in regards to other health related services that have been deprived of the susceptible key populaces in the pretext of putting a stoppage to abortion linked services

Uganda: the Big Challenge of Maternal and Child Health by Pietro Dionisio

Uganda has made progress towards improving the health of children, newborns, adolescent boys and girls, women and men in the country. However, Uganda  still ranks among the top 10 countries in the world with high maternal, newborn and child mortality rates. Many policies have been implemented over the last 20 years trying to improve maternal and child health. The related health indicators are progressing but there is still much to do

Falsified and Substandard Medicines: Threat to the SDGs – but Who’s Watching, Caring or Acting? by David Patterson

Falsified and Substandard (FS) medicines remain a largely hidden problem in many lower-and-middle income countries. Adding to law reform, a comprehensive response should include strengthening of capacity, accountability, collaboration and coordination of all concerned parties

The Untold Story about Counterfeit Medicines and Its Effects on the Right to Health in Uganda by Denis Bukenya and Michael Ssemakula

Uganda's National Drug Authority (NDA), a national body that presides over the oversight and authorization of sale and distribution of drugs, does not have a National Formulary (NF) to outlaw and disallow importation of counterfeit drugs. This paper raises many questions relevant to drug authorization in Uganda and calls for response to the unresolved answers: What does NDA use to guide and control the marketization and selling of imported drugs in Uganda in the nonexistence of a National Formulary? What does NDA use to make a taxonomy between unauthorized and authorized drugs for general public use?

Accessibility to Medicines in Uganda by Denis Bukenya and Michael Ssemakula

This paper examines the vast gap in access to essential drugs in Uganda and highlights the many circumstances of the drug stock-outs culminating into the high premiums on medicines hence frustrating access to medicines and many a time sprouting drug resistance illnesses

Understanding the Systems that Influence Distribution Channels for Drugs in Uganda for Better Inventory Procedures by Denis Bukenya

In his own words, the director of National Medical Stores (NMS) Mr. Moses Kamabare said “the stores are full of drugs to the point that I am asking my suppliers to hold future deliveries as I try to work out stocks from the system”. Reading the NMS Director’s statement and considering the regular drug stock-outs in the country makes one wonder who is fooling the other. This is an indicator that someone in the system is incompetent in managing their job of furnishing the correct data to the relevant authorities. This article intends to examine the pros and cons of the nature of the system that NMS uses in procuring the drugs for Ugandans to avoid stock outs

The Injurious TRIPS Relationship between Human Rights and Access to Medicine in Uganda by Denis Bukenya

The issue to ponder about is who is this TRIPS meant to protect? Is it protecting the LDCs or the Developed Countries? The views I am trapping out there imply that the Agreement intends to protect creativity and the manufacturers so that they can expand their potential and motivate them in research. 
The least developed countries, Uganda inclusive need time to overcome the constraints preventing them from creating viable technological bases and Intellectual Property (IP) Laws.The IP Laws in Uganda are so muddled that they curtail the availability of affordable generic drugs in the country.
Uganda as a nation would use a good training to the officers of the law in the IP section and also there is a need for increased materials on IP to be circulated amongst the health rights activists and advocates

The Uganda’s “Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Control) Act” and how it impacts on Public Health and Human Rights by Muhwezi Edward

The essence of the Uganda's Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Control) Act (NDPSA) is to treat people who use and inject drugs (PWUIDs) as criminals who need to be locked up instead of viewing them as human being in need of assistance. The criminalisation of drug use has had the effect of limiting the range of medical  intervention available and accessible to PWUIDs in both private and public facilities. There is no comprehensive facility for the provision of public health services to PWUIDs. There is also no treatment available within Uganda for people who are on drugs and need critical and urgent medical attention like opioid substitution therapy. And there is a direct link between the criminalisation of drug use and HIV/AIDS as well as mental health challenges

The Effects of Current Trade Agreements and IP Standards on Access to Health Services and Appropriate, High-Quality Medicines in Resource-Limited Countries like Uganda by Denis Bukenya

As a matter of life and death, governments in the LDC sector need to strive to ensure that they develop effective health policies including development of essential medicines lists in a bid to improve access to health care.  Also they need to live up their individual and collective commitments and adopt a human rights based approach to access to all medicines, not only essential medicines

Synergizing Roles: Experiences of Civil Society Working Towards Promoting Local Generic Pharmaceutical Manufacturing in the EAC Region by Moses Mulumba 

Due to a number of bottlenecks, the generic pharmaceutical manufacturers in the East African Community region produce at a cost disadvantage compared to their large-scale Asian counterparts. This article highlights some of the key areas where civil society has engaged and can still engage with local pharmaceutical industries to address these challenges