In Summary

Health Minister Christine Ondoa last month sacked the National Drug Authority board and instituted a new one headed by Dr Jane Aceng.

The appointment of an interim board to run the National Drug Authority by health minister Christine Ondoa is threatening to draw legal battles, with the sacked board accusing the minister of overlooking provisions of the National Drug Policy and Authority Act.

NDA officials contend that Dr Ondoa’s July appointment of Dr Jane Aceng as interim board of NDA and subsequent dissolution of the body contravenes the law. An August 5 letter to the executive secretary indicates that Dr Ondoa’s decision contradicts the NDA Act, which only empowers the minister to appoint only three persons (chairperson and two members from the public) out of the 20 members of the board.

“I would like to bring it to your attention that from the legal perspective, the appointment of these members seems to be in contravention of the above provisions of the law,” Ms Diana Kabuzire, the acting head of legal services, said in a memorandum.

Ms Kabuzire, who accepted to proceed and organised the swearing in of the interim board, warned of a looming legal battle similar to the 2010 case in which the Minister of Trade was dragged to court over appointments.

“Dissolution of the Authority would only mean dismissal of the chairperson and two other members as the rest would have to be automatically re-appointed. In any case the dismissal of the chairperson and the two others has to be justified,” said Dr Frank Mwesigye, the NDA chairman in an August 5 letter responding to the minister’s directive to dissolve the board.

Daily Monitor last month reported that the board was prematurely sacked by the minister, who cited irregularities in the appointment of the current executive secretary Dr Gordon Ssematiko, among other.

Efforts to speak to the health minister were futile yesterday, but Dr Mwesigye said the ‘old’ board has received the information about the appointment of an interim board are awaiting advice from the Office of the Attorney General and prime minister’s office.