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Two Health Workers Jailed Over Alleged Theft of Government Drugs in Adjumani

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Boxes of stolen medicine

Date: February 4, 2024

Adjumani, Uganda

In a significant development in Adjumani District, two health workers have been remanded to Openzinzi prison on charges of theft and misappropriation of government drugs. Ayikoru Joyce, 49, an assistant Nursing Officer, and Iceta Denis, 45, a security guard, both attached to Ukusijoni Health Centre III, were remanded by Grade One Magistrate Mr. Okot Michael on Friday, February 2nd.

The court heard that on November 11, 2023, the accused allegedly stole 6 boxes of malaria testing kits, 6 boxes of coarterm (anti-malaria drugs), and 2 boxes of detergents, collectively valued at Shs 1.5 million, property of the government of Uganda. Prosecution, led by Adjumani resident State Attorney Minya Swalik, informed the court that inquiries into the case are complete and requested a hearing date.

Both Ayikoru Joyce and Iceta Denis denied the charges, and the court remanded them to prison until February 15, 2024, when the case is scheduled for mention, and bail applications will be entertained.

The incident marks the third case of health workers facing legal action over the theft of government drugs in Adjumani. In January 2022, Mr. Onigo Charles, the Adjumani hospital pharmacist, was arrested for possessing 3240 doses of coarterm anti-malaria drugs valued at Shs 16 million.

According to the intelligence community in Adjumani, the rampant theft of drugs is attributed to significant loopholes in supervision and deployment. Some health workers have reportedly overstayed at their stations, effectively turning into de facto village chiefs.

The legal proceedings also shed light on the challenges facing the healthcare system, prompting concerns about the need for enhanced supervision and accountability. The accused health workers now face possible interdiction as per public service standing orders, which require officers formally charged in courts of law to be interdicted pending the case’s determination.

In a related development, the same court remanded Mala Collins, a 33-year-old resident of Kiraba village in Ukusijoni sub-county, to Openzinzi prison. Collins faces charges of stealing 18 bags of sunflowers valued at Shs 1.8 million from Esia Mixed farm owned by Gen. Moses Ali. The accused denied the charge and will await the mention of the case on February 15, 2024.

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