Welcome to National Medical Stores , Frequently Asked Questions

Who we are and what we do

National Medical Stores (NMS) came into existence through an act of Parliament called the NMS Act of 1993 to deal with the growing demand for medicine and medical supplies.  The role of NMS is stipulated in the mandate that is provided for in the NMS Act, that is, to procure, store and distribute essential medicines and medical supplies of good quality primarily to public health facilities.


Does NMS supply all medicine required by Health facilities?

NMS supplies medicine and medical supplies, which are in line with the Essential Medicine List of Uganda. These include; Antiretrovirals (ARV’s), essential medicines, essential medical supplies, laboratory supplies including HIV test kits and basic equipment like stethoscopes, BP machines and thermometers.

NMS supplies in accordance with the facility’s’ procurement plan. Each individual facility submits an annual procurement plan that forms the basis for ordering by that facility

NMS supplies in accordance with the budget available to each facility. NMS can only work within the budget limits per facility

NMS supplies in accordance with the policies of Ministry of Health with regard to items available at levels of care. Medicines and medical supplies can only be ordered for and supplied per the relevant level of care. For example Regional Referral Hospitals have greater needs than HCIV’s which in turn have greater needs than those of a HCII.


What is the Basic Kit?

Ministry of Health (MoH) introduced Basic Kits for HCII and HCIII levels of care in the FY2009/10. This was in response to quantification capacity gaps at these levels of care and challenges of the In-Charges of these facilities having to travel long distances to deliver orders to DHO offices. In order to ensure that they are in line with the needs of patients and cater for unique disease patterns across the country, they are reviewed and revised annually by individual HCII and HCIII In-charges under the supervision and direction of the District Health Officers in order to optimize the available resources and respond to the specific needs of the population. The principles for determining items to be included on the basic kits are according to:

  • Levels of care according to the Essential Medicines and Health Supplies List of Uganda
  • Current MoH treatment guidelines
  • Minimum MoH standards and staffing levels to be expected at the different levels of care


How does NMS receive orders from Health facilities?

Orders are received through email, EMS or by hand delivery to the different NMS regional offices.

Health facilities know their needs and submit orders as per the published delivery schedule.

Regional Referral Hospitals, General Hospitals and HCIV’s submit procurement plans every financial year and their orders have to be in line their annual planned quantities. Health HCII’s and HCIII’s are receive supplies in line with their district-specific basic kit.


How do medicines reach facilities?

NMS delivers medicine up to the facility’s doorstep. NMS delivers medicine to all health facilities from RRH’s, General Hospitals, HCIV’s, HCIII’s and HCII’s through a system called Last mile delivery. NMS contracts private transporters to deliver the medicines from district headquarters to individual lower health facilities.


The in-charges of lower health facilities receive the cartons containing medicines accompanied by delivery notes specifying medicines in each carton. The in-charges and another member of the community or security organization then open the cartons to confirm that medicines received are exactly what is indicated on delivery notes and are in good condition then proceed to sign and stamp the delivery notes.


Does NMS store and distribute vaccines?

Yes, NMS procures stores and delivers vaccines to the District Vaccine Stores (DVS). Vaccine supplies are distributed on a monthly basis

There are two categories of vaccines;

Vaccines against major childhood diseases which are supplied to all Public and Private Health facilities in the country.

Other vaccines including Anti-rabies, Anti-snake, Yellow fever and Hepatitis B vaccines. NMS expects orders of this type of vaccines to be submitted with the rest of the facility order.


How are Government medicines and health supplies identified?

All medicine and medical supplies that go to government health facilities are supposed to be embossed. Embossing means placing a special distinguishing mark to any product or supply distributed by NMS. All medicines and medical supplies that go to Government Health facilities have words, “Government of Uganda Not for Sale” on the labels and then a “UG” on a tablet, a capsule, vial or ampoule.

This policy was introduced;

  • To ensure that patients easily distinguish medicines and medical supplies and get them free of charge from government health facilities.
  • To ensure that embossed medicines and medical supplies are not diverted or stolen from government t health facilities or stores and taken to private health facilities where they would be sold.
  • It is meant to make it easy for law enforcement organs like Police and courts of law to easily identify the products meant for government for the purpose of charging and convicting suspects brought before them.


Who is responsible for expired medicines and health supplies?

Medicines and health supplies have a shelf life. All items with a shelf life experience a degree of expiry, worldwide due to factors including unpredictability of disease patterns, passing away of some patients and staffing challenges. The level of expiries, however, should be kept at minimal level. This can be done by;

  • Proper planning based on disease patterns
  • Ordering for medicines and health supplies in quantities that can be used
  • Ensuring that the medicines and health supplies are properly stored and dispensed according to expiry dates (First Expiry First Out – FEFO principal)
  • Prescribing medicine available in the facility
  • Liaising with the District authorities to redistribute medicine to neighboring facilities that need it


What doesn’t NMS do?

  • Regulate the importation and quality of medicines. This is done by the National Drug Authority, NDA
  • Supply to private facilities
  • Monitor and regulate the storage and use of medicines and health supplies in the facilities. This is done by the health facility in charges, DHO’s, Medical Superintendents, and Hospital Directors
  • Supply of non-ordered medicines and health supplies. Supply is only done by a facility submitting it’s or when a directive has been sent by MoH for national programs like Mass Immunization, Child days plus in April and October and outbreaks like Ebola, Marburg, Cholera, Nodding disease syndrome etc.


Who does NMS work with?

  • MOH
  • PPDA
  • NDA
  • UPDF
  • DHOS
  • RDCS
  • CAOS

How does NMS handle complaints?

A complaint is a statement that something is unsatisfactory or unacceptable.

  • Complaints are received by written means through the Complaints Form.
  • They are recorded, a file opened and serialized with a reference number
  • It is then assigned to the relevant action officer depending on the complaint.
  • The action officer reviews the complaint, investigates and determines the course of action within a given timeframe.
  • The Customer Care Attendant advises the Customer on the agreed resolution and action closes the file and keeps it in the records. ENDS


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