In Uganda, a staggering revelation has come to light as an audit report by the country’s Auditor General, John Muwanga, discloses that over 5.6 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines, purchased through a World Bank loan, have reached their expiration date. The value of these expired vaccines is estimated at 28.1 billion Ugandan shillings, equivalent to $7.3 million or £5.8 million.
The unfortunate situation extends beyond just Covid vaccines, as the report highlights the expiration of drugs, predominantly HIV antiretroviral drugs (ARVs), valued at $8.6 million. The expiration of these vital medications is attributed to changes in treatment guidelines set forth by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Health authorities are now faced with the daunting task of withdrawing and destroying these expired vaccines and medications from health facilities across the country. The repercussions of this revelation are far-reaching, with authorities anticipating total losses from expired Covid vaccines to surpass a staggering $78 million by the end of the year.
Moses Kamabare, the head of Uganda’s drug procurement agency, has acknowledged that declining demand for vaccines and changes in treatment guidelines have contributed significantly to the alarming issue of expiring medical supplies. The financial burden on the Ugandan government is exacerbated by the fact that the procurement of these vaccines and medications was facilitated through a World Bank loan.
As Uganda grapples with the economic and public health implications of this situation, questions arise about the management of vaccine distribution, storage, and the adaptability of healthcare systems to changes in treatment protocols. The country now faces the challenge of not only mitigating the immediate impact of the expired vaccines but also implementing strategies to prevent similar occurrences in the future.