Kamabare said this relating to low ordering and uptake of COVID-19 Vaccines.
“A few years back, COVID-19 was a big issue,” said Kamabare in an interaction with MPs earlier this week.
“However, the demand for covid vaccines is now at zero. We no longer receive any covid vaccine orders,” he added.
“If we don’t have any people that need or health facilities requisitioning for these Covid vaccines, we expect more COVID-19 vaccines to expire on us.”
According to the latest audit report for the financial year ended June 30, 2023, presented to Speaker of Parliament Anita Among by Auditor General John Muwanga, at least 5.6 million COVID-19 vaccines, worth 28.15 billion Shillings have expired at the National Medical Stores (NMS).
The expired vaccines are out of a total of 12.59 million vaccines in store.
“More expired Covid-19 vaccines still lie in various health facilities across the country and the total combined loss to be incurred next year (2024) is estimated at 300 billion Shillings. These are vaccines procured out of the World Bank loan advanced for COVID-19 support,” reads the report.
The Auditor General said the NMS has a non-viable or expired stock of drugs worth 33 billion Shillings, which was a 153 percent increase from 13.4 billion the year prior.
He said these majorly include Antiretroviral medications (ARVs) which expire due to mainly changes in the recommended treatment guidelines by the World Health Organization.
In the report, Muwanga indicates that the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Diana Atwine explained that the procurement of the Covid-19 vaccines was done based on speculation since the pandemic was still around and that the government had committed the manufacturers with conditional grants from the World Bank to produce and deliver vaccines which could not be halted.
The audit report quotes Atwine saying that funds have been secured from GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, to manage the recovery of all expired COVID-19 vaccines and their destruction.
Kamabare disclosed that “there is also low demand for the older regimens of ARVs which have since been replaced by newer ones.”
Kamabare’s revelations ignited a sense of urgency among parliamentarians and called for immediate action to prevent the wastage of the vaccine doses.
The NMS, responsible for the procurement and distribution of medicines,including vaccines, across the country, has been actively involved in the nationwide distribution of vaccines since the outbreak of Covid pandemic.
Officials say the low uptake is a result of vaccine hesitancy and a lack of demand in all Districts which poses a significant threat to the overall success of the vaccination campaign, as additional unused doses will go to waste.
Despite an extensive public awareness campaign launched by the Ministry of Health upon the request of the President, to educate the public about the importance of COVID-19 vaccination, there is a general sense that Covid is behind us which could explain low demand.
Additional Reporting by Chimpreports.