Gulu Probes Sale of Hepatitis B Vaccines

1269 Views Gulu, Uganda

In short
The auditors have been in the field for the last one week and are expected to visit all private but not-for-profit facilities that received the vaccines. It is alleged they sold the drugs to clients between 30,000 and 75,000 Uganda shillings.

Gulu district local government has dispatched a team of auditors to investigate allegations of sale of government procured Hepatitis B vaccines in the district.

Simon Peter Oola, the district vice chairperson says the investigations have been prompted by a preliminary report by State Minister for northern Uganda, Grace Kwiyucwiny. The minister said she was privy to information that the drugs were being sold to clients at 30,000 Uganda shillings.
 
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The auditors have been in the field for the last one week and are expected to visit all private but not-for-profit facilities that received the vaccines. It is alleged they sold the drugs to clients between 30,000 and 75,000 Uganda shillings.
  
Oola says the auditors were sent to the field after an internal inquiry failed to establish the truth.
 
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Prevalence of Hepatitis B in Gulu district stands at 8.1 percent compared to HIV at 5.6 percent. Since government supplied 205,990 doses of vaccines in January, 69,520 people were vaccinated by end of August.
 
Anselm Kyaligonza, the Gulu district deputy chief and Administration officer, says the report of the audit is expected by the end of this week. He says they have been told to interview recipients of the vaccine to establish whether they actually paid for the vaccines.
 
According to Kyaligonza, some clinics claim they charged recipients for non-government procured vaccines and test strips only. He says to corroborate their claims, the district decided to send out undisclosed number of auditors to establish the truth.
 
Sister Grace Anena, a senior nursing officer in charge of Hepatitis B vaccination, immunization and nutrition in Gulu district confirmed that some clinics initially charged clients for test strips which were never supplied by government.
 
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Anena says charging clients for test strips has however ended after the Ministry of Health supplied adequate numbers in May.
 
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Uganda Radio Network visited the refrigeration room and saw six cartons of test strips and several boxes of the vaccines in giant fridges at the district health department.
 
In August, the Ministry of Health announced that it was suspending primary healthcare funding to 196 health facilities that do not meet the requirements of a not-for-profit private facility.
 
Government has since 2001 been supporting private health facilities with non-wage and development grants of up to 2.1 billion shillings annually. The support was intended to cover health service delivery gaps in areas with no or limited public health facilities.
  
Health minister Dr Ruth Aceng said at the time that some of the health facilities did not meet the eligibility criteria as per the provisions of the primary health care grant guidelines. She said that although the health facilities were registered as private not-for-profit, they were actually private for-profit and had been benefiting.

 

About the author

Peter Labeja
Peter Labeja has been a practicing journalist for the last 13 years during which he has covered part of the brutal conflict which bedeviled Northern Uganda as well as the painful transition to Peace thereafter. Emerging post conflict issues such as land rights of under privileged widows and orphans, challenges of access to social services in the immediate aftermath of Lord’s Resistance Army conflict in Northern Uganda.

Labeja is now the Northern Uganda Bureau chief in Acholi Sub Region since 2014 - Gulu, Amuru, Nwoya and Omoro districts as well as South Sudan falls within his areas of jurisdiction. He previously worked with The Vision Group for four years.

Labeja’s major career interests are in Climate Change; Agriculture and Environment - natural resources such as Water, Oil and Gas; Transitional Justice; Human Rights, Democracy and Governance as well as South Sudan’s humanitarian crisis. In 2013, Labeja was awarded a prestigious Pan African Journalism Award for excellence in journalism at United Nation’s UNEP headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya for Climate Change and Health Reporting.