Remarks by U.S. Ambassador Natalie E. Brown at Commissioning of National Medical Stores Warehouse Facility | November 3, 2022
Kajjansi, Kampala, Uganda (As prepared for delivery)
On behalf of the United States government, I congratulate the Government of Uganda on accomplishing yet another milestone in improving services for the country’s people. This milestone – the completion and the inauguration today of a new warehousing facility for National Medical Stores – will help ensure that much-needed medicines and health supplies are properly managed, from receipt to storage and onward, until their ultimate delivery to the health facilities and use by those in need.
The United States supports the Government of Uganda’s objective of strengthening the public health supply chain to ensure consistent availability of essential medicines and health supplies for the Ugandan people. The health of the nation’s citizens is critical to Uganda’s national security and to its economic development. To this end, together with the Ministry of Health and the Global Fund, the United States has invested more than $578 million over the last five years in procuring essential life-saving medications, including antiretroviral medications, antimalarials, family planning commodities, laboratory supplies, mosquito nets, and indoor residual spraying supplies. These public health investments contribute to improving the health and well-being of more than 1.2 million people living with HIV in Uganda, protecting more than 2 million households from malaria, thus reducing the morbidity and mortality related to these diseases. And let’s not forget the more than 18 million COVID-19 vaccine doses provided by the United States. COVID remains a concern, especially for vulnerable individuals, and vaccines for initial shots and boosters are available and need to be administered appropriately before they expire. As we work together to contain and prevent the spread of the Ebola virus, we cannot ignore the other public health threats.
To strengthen and improve procurement, storage, and distribution of health commodities by NMS, the United States government invested significant funding to establish and operationalize the NMS+ Enterprise Resource Planning, or ERP, information technology system. This system will improve efficiency in the areas of procurement, warehousing, and distribution, and will provide vital information on financial and human resource operations at NMS. The ERP digitally links NMS to more than 3,400 public Ugandan health facilities so that they are able to place orders for medical supplies online. The ERP system will reduce human error from a paper-based system, enable the NMS to immediately receive orders electronically, ensure that facilities are adequately supplied with the right commodities at the right time, and help to minimize pilferage. Just last week, the IGG reported that Uganda loses UGX 25 million each day to corruption and vice, depriving citizens of vital services, including access to health care and medicine.
The ERP system also enables NMS to access critical real-time data to guide planning for procurement of health supplies. Currently, 1,621 of the 3,400 facilities are ordering their essential medicines and health supplies through the ERP, and more than 7,500 health workers have been trained on use of the system by NMS with USG assistance.
The United States government is also training local governments and health facilities to manage the public health supply chain and ensure continuous availability of life-saving essential medicines. In the past year, we procured, distributed, and installed 535 computers at 350 Uganda health facilities as part of our efforts to digitize the supply chain across the country.
I would like to reiterate that the United States remains committed to collaboration with the Government of Uganda to meet its health sector goals. We will continue to support the implementation of the 10-year roadmap for strengthening the health supply chain in Uganda, an effort that will facilitate sustainability of the various investments in Uganda’s health supply chain.
Through this plan, the Government of Uganda has committed to gradually direct more resources towards commodities, health supplies, and health systems investments for the public sector. Our collective efforts will move Uganda closer to achieving the broader goal of reaching universal health coverage by 2030.
But reaching this goal also requires deliberate and sustained action in controlling the current Ebolavirus outbreak. Having recently traveled to Mubende and Kassanda, I commend the Ministry of Health and all of the health care workers, especially the village health teams, for providing attentive and compassionate care to the infected and their communities. But this virus has the potential to travel across Uganda and across the region, wreaking havoc and undermining all the advancements made in public health. It is imperative that we all redouble our efforts to raise awareness, to ensure individuals go to treatment centers as early as possible, and to provide a comprehensive response. This is not a matter for only the Ministry of Health to resolve; all of us – the entire government of Uganda, diplomatic and development partners, the media, and Ugandan communities in particular – have a role to play. Please do your part.
Once again, our heartfelt congratulations go out to your excellency and the people of Uganda on this occasion. Thank you.