Pharmacists to Offer Consultations to Patients




Ugandans buying medicine from a pharmacy or health facility will have to get used to sharing more than their prescription notes with their pharmacist before they can get medicine. This is one of the proposed changes being discussed by pharmacy lecturers drawn from various African countries at the 8th African International Pharmaceutical Student Federation Symposium that kicked off at Entebbe on Monday morning.

According to the proposal, pharmacists will no longer be required to sit in a pharmacy but will also be called upon to give consultations before they fill a prescription.

The lecturers note that the curriculum needs to be changed to decrease the number of people who suffer adverse reactions to medicines that are prescribed. Both students and lecturers from different institutions that teach pharmacy have welcomed the proposal, saying it will help pharmacists become more relevant in the health care system.

Dr. Fred Kitutu, a lecturer at the School of Pharmacy in Makerere University, says the current curriculum doesn’t train pharmacists to take a lead in treating patients. “Uganda being a colony we follow British systems but some of these systems are not working for us. The British and American text books we use don’t prepare pharmacy students for our health care system which needs them to be proactive instead of occupying an office and filling prescriptions,” he said.

If the curriculum in Uganda is changed, pharmacists in hospitals will be required to make ward rounds together with doctors to try and follow up on the medication patients are receiving to ascertain whether it is effective or not. Dr. Sylvia Opanga, a senior lecturer at the School of Pharmacy, Nairobi University, says pharmacists can no longer be kept in a small box room to fill prescriptions.

Dr. Opanga notes that the number of people who react to medicines and eventually die is on the rise in Africa. According to the 2017 WHO World Drug Report, 29.5 million people globally experienced drug reactions some of which included addictions to drugs and reactions to drug compositions.

Dr. Kitutu says with the new change, pharmacy students will be trained on how they can make themselves more relevant in their work environments.

Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng, the Minister of Health, says the role of pharmacists in delivering quality healthcare is very important. “The role pharmacists in delivery of quality health services are indisputably immense. The current global challenge of microbial resistance shows that a lot needs to be done in ensuring the proper use of anti-microbial drugs and pharmacists need to lead this fight,” she said.

The Human resource policy from the Health Ministry dictates that every general hospital funded by government should be equipped with one pharmacist. But due to a decreased wage bill, some hospitals don’t have pharmacists. Dr. Morries Seru, the Commissioner in charge of Pharmaceutical Services in Ministry of Health, says that pharmacists will have to be ready to embrace new technologies if the move is to work.

“With a reducing wage bill, we cannot say that we are going to hire more people. The world is embracing new technologies in the field of medicine and if pharmacists want to remain relevant in a world where robots can dispense pills and apps are being developed to prescribe medicine, pharmacists will have to come up with new ways to make the technology work for them,” she said.

The new training curriculum is already in use in Nigeria and Kenya.


UNRA Returns UGX 3bn to Treasury



Uganda National Roads Authority-UNRA returned 3.4 billion shillings to the consolidated fund at the end of the 2018/2019 financial year.

UNRA head of finance and Accounts, Kwesiga Brazza explains that the authority failed to spend 3.4 billion shillings due to failure to recruit new staff.

According to a report of the Accountant General, Lawrence Ssemakula, UNRA was expected to spend 1.8 billion shillings on salaries for contract staff and shillings 1.3 billion on insurance in UNRA’s development budget. However, these funds, amounting to shillings 3.4 billion were unspent by the end of the financial year.

Kwesiga confirmed that UNRA returned the money because it stopped recruiting staff last September when cabinet published a new structure to merge authorities and agencies.

In the new structure, approved on September 8, 2018, UNRA would become a department in the Ministry of Works and Transport and it would be headed by a commissioner. Currently, UNRA is a semi-autonomous authority headed by an Executive Director-Allen Kagina.

Following the news of restructuring, Kagina wrote to staff, noting that she did not expect the decision will happen in the short run as “most of the affected institutions were set up by Acts of Parliament and can only be repealed by another Act.”

However, Kwesiga says that management took a decision not to recruit any more staff, pending the implementation of the new structure.

In 2017/2018 report of the Auditor General, it was noted that UNRA returned shillings 2.9 billion to the Consolidated Fund out of shillings 2.3 trillion released.

The Auditor-General noted that failure to utilize funds in a timely manner implies weaknesses in cash flow planning which impacts on the delivery of planned interventions and associated outputs.

The report, however, indicated that UNRA management attributed the failure to spend the funds to late release from Uganda Road Fund.

UNRA explained that the shillings 2.9 billion that was returned as part of shillings 1.8 billion that was received on 26th June 2018, three days to the end of the financial year. Also, much of the returned funds were received in May 2018 and therefore, UNRA had insufficient time to fully utilize the released funds.


Kigezi Politicians Turn to Churches for Support




As the 2021 general elections draw nearer, politicians from the ruling National Resistance Movement-NRM party in Kigezi Sub region have turned to churches to garner support for their bid.

Both the incumbents and those eyeing their seats compete for space in churches to woe voters.

The State Finance Minister and incumbent Ndorwa West Member of Parliament, David Bahati and his rival, Simpson Mpiriirwe, appear at several church services to solicit support.

Bahati has also been dishing out money towards the construction of Churches. Mpirirwe is busy distributing Wheel Chairs to People with Disabilities as he lobbies the electorate for their support to unseat Bahati.

Catherine Atwakiire Ndamira, the incumbent Kabale District Woman Member of Parliament and her rival, Chrispine Musimenta, have also not been left out. The two have appeared in various churches to solicit for support.

Protazio Begumisa, the Commissioner Internal Audit Uganda Revenue Authority –URA has also appeared in several churches requesting for support to unseat Wilfred Niwagaba, the incumbent Ndorwa County East member of parliament.

He also uses the same chance to donate house hold utensil especially plastic cups to Christians to woe them to his side. Begumisa accuses Niwagaba for doing nothing for his electorates other opposing government. He tells voters to rally behind him, saying that he is ready to use the experience he has gained in URA to advocate for services.

Major General Sabitti Mutebire, the commander of the UPDF Engineering Brigade has also hit the ground running to solicit support to unseat, Andrew Aja Baryayanga, the Kabale municipality member of parliament. The two have also been seen campaigning in churches and mosques.

The situation isn’t any different in Rukungiri District. Fred Tumuheirwe Turyamuhweza, the incumbent Rujumbura county Member of Parliament has publicly exchanged bitter words with the former Information Minister and MP, Jim Muhwezi Katugugu during various church services in the run up to the 2021 general elections.

In Rubanda district, the Rubanda East County MP, Henry Musasizi has also been seen on various occasions campaigning during church prayers. The LC5 Chairperson, Kenneth Jogo Biryabarema, who is eyeing Musasizi’s seat, has also been seen on several occasions doing the same.

Henry Banyenzaki, the former State Minister for Economic Monitoring and former Rubanda West MP is also warming up to regain the seat he lost to Eng. Denis Sabiti. He has made several appearances in church to solicit support from the voters.

Evelyn Kikafunda and Hilder Kabarungi Karuhize have also been seen on several occasions donating bags of cement to churches in their bid to win the hearts of voters to unseat the incumbent Rubanda Woman Member of Parliament, Prosy Akampurira Mbabazi.

The conduct of the politicians has not gone down well with some voters who are questioning why the clergy has continued entertaining political jostling in places of worship. Robert Kakuru Byamugusha is a voter in Kyanamira Sub County in Kabale district and Executive Director of Kick Corruption Out of Uganda (KICK-U).

He says the habit of NRM politicians turning places of fellowship into political platforms is uncalled for. Byamugisha wonders why religious leaders give platforms to politicians to campaign during prayers because the electioneering period.

Moses Bahati ya Mungu, a voter in Katuna town council blames the problem on greed of some politicians who are hungry for power and others who consider political seats as a source of employment and income.

Two parish priests attached to Kigezi Diocese told our reporter on condition of anonymity that although they are aware of the fact that campaigning in church is bad, they keep a deaf ear since they want money from the politicians especially incumbent Members of parliament, ministers and rich aspirants.

But George Bagamuhunda, the Bishop Kigezi Diocese, says it is against the church norms to accommodate political campaigns. Bagamuhunda says priests and catechists giving politicians platforms to campaign during prayers are doing it on their own.

Maurice Mugenga Keitaba, the Greater Kabale NRM Registrar, says the party has only authoriosed their leaders ministers and legislators to update congregations about government programs but not to campaign.

He says his office will start investigating the matter to make sure that those found campaigning in churches on behalf of the party are penalized accordingly.

According to NRM party road map that was released in January 2019, competitive politicking in the party is expected in May 2020 with the start of primary elections for both parliamentary and local government candidates.

General elections will be held in early 2021, according to the Electoral Commission


Kitalya Prison to Open in October




The Uganda Prisons Services plans to complete the construction of a mini-max prison at Kitalya in October to address congestion in Kampala extra-region.

The Prison located in Busujju County, Wakiso District with a capacity of 2,000 prisoners will help decongest Luzira Maximum Security Prison. Construction of the prison started 2016 by Ambitious Construction Company Limited at a cost of 18.3 billion Shillings.

The facility according to the design will have big sized prison wards and 30 cells all fitted with modern sanitary facilities with a fully-fledged medical wing, complete with an inpatient section and isolation rooms for contagious diseases.

While appearing before Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Wednesday, officials from Uganda Prisons were tasked by the Committee Chairperson Nathan Nandala Mafabi to explain congestion in prisons highlighted by the Auditor General.

The officials led by the Accounting Officer Samuel Baker Emiku were appearing to answer audit queries raised in the June 2018 report. According to the report, the current population and occupancy in 254 prisons is more than the holding capacity of the cells in all the prisons.

“In some cases, the current population exceeded the holding capacity by more than 3 times,” said Auditor General Muwanga.

Now, according to Aggrey Aturwaniriire, the in-charge of poliy and planning says that the population currently stands at 59,280 across the country against the approved capacity of 17,304 prisoners. Out of the 59,280 total prisoners, 30,263 are convicts, 28,637 are on remand while 380 are debtors.

He noted that Uganda Prisons has been pushing the Finance Ministry for enhanced funding towards expansion of prisoners’ accommodation and that funding.

Aturwaniriire also noted that new constructions at Nebbi Prison, Amuru, Kaabong, Orom Tikau, Ragem and Adjuman where 600 prisoners capacity is to be created. He also cited constructions at Ibuga, Nwoya, Kyenjojo, Mutufu and Sheema which are creating capacity of 500 prisoners.

Nansana Municipality MP Robert Kasule Ssebunya told Prisons officers that Bulawula Prison has a lot of space but with poor infrastructures. Nandala also questioned whether prisoners cannot be shifted from one prison to another.

Milton Tiyo, the Prisons Assistant Commissioner Engineering said that prisoners can be transferred from one prison to another depending on the sentence with those able to work on farms transferred to prisons with farms. He also noted that expansion of space at Bulawula Prison in Kayunga district is being handled.

The Uganda Prisons Services estimate that the number of prisoners to increase to 66,812 prisoners in the current Financial Year 2019/120.


Mobile Money Agents in Mukono Reject Hiring Security Guards




Mobile money agents in Mukono have rejected a proposal by the police to hire security guards to protect their business.

According to Mukono District Police Commander Rogers Sseguya, a number of agents have been approaching the police station expressing fear of losing their lives and money following the rampant killings and theft mobile money operators in Mukono, Kampala and other outskirts.

The recent attack in Mukono happened on July 7, when Rebecca Namuganyi a mobile money agent in Kapeke, Nama Sub County was murdered at her workplace by unidentified man who also stole money.

Sseguya notes that mobile money operators should consider forming groups and hire public security who would protect them from being attacked by armed thugs especially at the time of transferring their money.

Brenda Nabukuwa, a mobile money agent notes that hiring a guard is much costly yet they will be required to hire others to escort them to their homes.

Daniel Bawonga another mobile money agent notes that they are tired and scared of attacks. He advices that police should instead increase patrols in the community especially during the time of leaving work.


IG Breaks Ground for UGX 69bn Headquarters




Construction of the headquarters of the Inspectorate of Government-IG is finally set to begin. Speaking at the ground breaking ceremony on plots 71-75 Yusuf Lule Road and Plots 24-26 Clement Hill, Kampala this morning, Rose N. Kafeero, the Permanent Secretary of the IG, said the 15 storied building will cost them Shillings 69Billion.

She said the building is expected to be complete within three years.

Plans for the construction of the IG house have been on since 2005 when they acquired 1.2 acres of land from Post Office Uganda at Shillings 5.4bn.

Construction work stalled following controversy on how the land acquired. However, a couple of IG staff were investigated and cleared.

The next hurdle was to look for the money to procure a contractor to kick start the construction works. This too didn’t escape the controversy. Government allocated Shs 10bn in the 2015/16 financial year.

This was not enough to kick-start the project. Government has since increased the money to Shillings 25bn. This is the available money, with the reminder expected to come later.

The procurement of the contractor took two years with three reviews of the process after a complaint that it was not credible. Kafeero said she this was the most trying time for the institution but they managed to go through it albeit late.

On her part, the Inspector General of Government, Justice Irene Mulyagonja, said the Inspectorate of Government has been growing with the creation of more divisions, which requires more space.

Currently, the IG has up 325 staff and pays Shs 2.5bn annually in rent.

Finance Minister, Matia Kasaija said he was pushing for the quick amendment of the PPDA act to ensure that unnecessary delays in procurement are tamed.

The delays usually accrue from the fact that some of the bidders complain or whistleblowers come out to complain about corruption in the process.

This has dogged many government projects with lots of money on them, including the IG building which was reviewed three times before settling with Roko construction.

Kasaija said in six months, he would avail the remaining money for the completion of the project. He hopes other government agencies and departments use the IG facility, which completed to hold their functions instead of going to hotels.



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