Value for Money Audit Report on Procurement and Storage of Drugs by National Medical Stores (NMS) - Uganda
(2010; 65 pages)


There has been a general countrywide concern about people dying of treatable diseases such as malaria arising from patients’ failure to access drugs in public health facilities while drugs worth billions of shillings remain expired in NMS facilities, stores of Referral Hospitals, District health Offices and health units.

An audit was conducted on National Medical Stores (NMS) which is mandated by the National Medical Stores Act (chapter 207) Laws of Uganda to ensure continuous distribution of pharmaceutical products in a financially viable and sustainable manner to meet the needs of public health services in the country.

The overall objective of the audit was to assess the operations of National Medical Stores in the areas of procurement and storage with a view of recommending improvements where there are problems. The main findings of the study are:

  1. NMS stocks drugs without regard to buffer stock levels; as such, certain drugs are in excess of the one year’s requirement while others are under-stocked. There were huge stocks of expired drugs within the stores of NMS.
  2. Despite the requirement to destroy expired drugs after every six months after write off, there are expired drugs at both NMS premises and health centres countrywide which remain undestroyed for an average period of six (6) years.
  3. Although NMS is mandated to supply drugs and medical supplies to all public heath services, in a number of cases, NMS does not supply drugs and medical supplies to meet public health units’ needs as per their orders.
  4. NMS does not maintain proper procurement plans in accordance with the stock replenishment policy and uses unreliable AMC which they do not even comply with.
  5. NMS carries out needs assessments but uses data based on actual AMC sales for the previous six months which excludes customer orders that are not honored resulting in improper projections of drugs to procure.
  6. NMS receives, stores and distributes drugs procured by third parties but the MOUs signed by both parties lack clear terms of coordination related to joint procurement planning, leading to duplicate procurement of drugs.
  7. NMS does not have a clearly spelt out policy on the standard time it should take to process a customer order from receipt to delivery at customers’ District or personal collection at NMS premises. This creates no obligation for prompt processing of customer orders by NMS.
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