Uganda’s NDA found HIV drugs in meat but didn’t issue warning

Uganda’s National Drug Authority has admitted that it knew that HIV drugs were used to fatten animals in 2014 but did not warn the public.

Amos Atumanya, the head of the organization, told the House of Assembly that he has known that they are giving pigs and chickens to use the antidote that they are giving them.

Mr. Atumanya said that for humans, consuming small amounts of drugs in food can be dangerous.

But the NDA has tried to downplay his comments.

A spokesperson said that if there was a health risk the public would have been warned, while the NDA’s job is to regulate drugs and not food or animal feed.

A recent report by the renowned Makerere University found that more than a third of the chicken and 50% of the pork it tested contained traces of anti-inflammatory drugs. The meat was brought from the market in the capital city of Kampala and in the north of Lira city.

When he appeared before Uganda’s House Committee on HIV/Aids, Mr. Atumanya said that the National Drug Authority conducted a study in 2014 on the use of anti-retrovirals (ARVs) in animal agriculture. However, while issuing a report, he did not warn the public for fear of harming the country’s exports “if we go out of proportion”.

“So we try to find other ways in which we can manage that situation,” he said.

One who responded to the study by the University of Makerere University, said that pigs given anti-retroviral drugs “grow faster and fatter and they sell quickly”.

But Mr. Atumanya said this could cause serious problems for people who eat meat infected with HIV.

“It is possible to develop resistance to these ARVs,” he said. “In the future if you need them, then you will find that this ARV does not work for some.”

About 1.4 million people in Uganda are living with HIV/Aids, according to the United Nations.

An NDA report back in 2014, found that anti-retrovirals are mainly used to treat African swine fever which is also known as Pig Ebola and currently has no cure. It also confirms claims that ARVs are being used to treat Newcastle disease in chickens.

After Mr. Atumanya’s remarks, however, the spokesperson for the NDA defended its decision not to announce its results.

“The NDA has the authority to regulate medicines, not food or animal feeds,” he said.

“If there is a threat to public health regarding drugs under use, the NDA will be the first to come out and warn the public as we always do.

“NDA remains vigilant and committed to ensuring that Ugandans have access to safe, effective and quality medicines.”

He added that regulators have launched several measures to stop drug abuse, which has led to many arrests and prosecutions.

Leave a Reply