Who is benefiting from the supply of inflated FAKE anticancer drugs to Uganda Cancer Institute?

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By Jannette Mugisha

There is a rumour going around about the sacking of Dr Jackson Orem, the Director of the Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI), at Mulago Hospital , by the Minister of Health Dr Jane Acheng.



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Information around the rumour suggests a heavy hand behind the Hon Minister’s impending axing of the hardworking, soft spoken Physician & Senior Oncologist; a man who has turned around the fortunes of Uganda Cancer Institute into a Regional Centre of Excellence.
If this happens, Dr Orem will have been the second big name casualty of the purge going on in the Ministry of Health, since Dr Jane Acheng & her Permanent Secretary Dr Diana Atwiine were appointed by the President recently.



Prof. Anthony Mbonye, who was acting Director General of Health Services (DGHS), recently resigned & and took a high profile executive job with WHO in Geneva, following his suspension by Dr Diana Atwiine on filmsy charges.

These rumours go on to suggest that, the main reason Dr Orem will lose his job stems from an old dispute between Uganda Cancer Institute and National Medical Stores, where NMS has been supplying fake drugs at hyper inflated prices to UCI; an issue that Dr Orem has fought vigorously, both by frequently rejecting these fake drugs & appealing to the Prime Minister and the parliamentary sub-committee on Health Services.



At one time in 2016, the rumour goes, an attendant of a cancer patient appealed to the Ministry of Finance and an investigation carried out by the Auditor General found gross hyperinflation of drug prices supplied to UCI by NMS. Some drugs were inflated by 800% compared to open market prices. This led to UCI losing close to about 4 Billion UGX in one year alone.



These rumours go on to say that the Director of National Medical Stores Mr Moses Kamabare may be working through the Minister and her PS to get rid of Dr Orem so that these fake yet overpriced drugs continue to be dumped at the UCI.
Some of the drugs were tested by the best laboratory in Uganda, (Makerere University Pharmacology Lab) and were found to have as low as 4% active Ingredient. Most drugs tested were found to have less than 50% active ingredient, yet the minimum acceptable quality is 95%.
This has led to anger amongst doctors at Mulago Hospital, who spearheaded this pharmaceutical investigation in the first place, because cancers were no longer responding to anti Cancer drugs.



This has led to many unnecessary deaths at the institute.
According to these rumours, the second reason might be the procurement of a modern radiotherapy machine, the first of its kind in Uganda. The country needs at least four radiotherapy machines but only one Cobalt machine was recently procured. This type of machine is only good for superficial cancers on the body.



The cancer institute through the African Development Bank Loan, is in the process of buying a second but modern radiotherapy machine called a LINEAR ACCELERATOR RADIOTHERAPY MACHINE (LINAC). This particular machine is able to reach deep seated cancers in the body.
The company, according to rumours, that won the contract to supply a REFURBISHED LINAC machine called Elsmed. This company is rumoured to have been fronted by Minister Dr Acheng and her PS Dr Dr Atwiine. They were recently flown to Israel where the company is based and “red carpets” were rolled for them.



The problem, according to these rumours is, the Director of UCI Dr Jackson Orem, is against buying a REBURSHIED MACHINE which this company will be suppling.
He wishes for the UCI to have a new machine so that value for money could be realised from the ADB bank loan to government.



These are the two reasons, Dr Jackson Orem is on his marks waiting for marching orders from his bosses, who favour his junior Dr Victoria Walusansa to take the job. Its rumoured that Dr Walusansa is a close friend of the two ladies at the Ministry of Health & therefore more pliant than Dr Orem.

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