Uganda’s NDA Found HIV Drugs in Meat but Didn’t Issue Warning

HIV Drugs in Meat

Uganda’s NDA Found HIV Drugs in Meat but Didn’t Issue Warning – Uganda’s National Drug Authority (NDA) has come under scrutiny after admitting it knew that HIV medicine was being used to fatten animals in 2014 but did not issue a public warning at the time.

The Revelation

Amos Atumanya, a senior drugs inspector at the regulator, made this revelation during a parliamentary hearing. He disclosed that the NDA had become aware that anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs) were being administered to pigs and chickens as part of their treatment.

Mr. Atumanya cautioned that consuming food containing small quantities of these drugs could pose risks to human health.

Attempt to downplay

However, the NDA has since attempted to downplay these comments. A spokesperson stated that if there had been a genuine health threat, the authority would have alerted the public. They also emphasized that the NDA’s primary role is to regulate drugs, not food or animal feed.

A recent report from Makerere University found traces of anti-retroviral drugs in over a third of chicken and 50% of pork samples tested. These samples were collected from markets in Kampala, the capital, and Lira in the northern part of Uganda.

Investigations were conducted

During his appearance before Uganda’s House Committee on HIV/Aids, Mr. Atumanya disclosed that the NDA had indeed conducted an investigation into the use of ARVs in animal farming back in 2014. Although a report was generated, no public warning was issued to avoid negatively impacting the country’s food exports by “blowing it out of proportion.”

HIV Drugs in Meat

“We were trying to find other means in which we could manage that situation,” Mr. Atumanya explained.

According to respondents in the Makerere University study, pigs treated with anti-retroviral drugs “grow faster and fatter and are sold off quickly.” However, Mr. Atumanya warned that this practice could lead to serious problems in humans who consume such meat. It could potentially result in resistance to ARVs when needed for HIV treatment.

Reasons behind this

Uganda has an estimated 1.4 million people living with HIV/Aids, according to the United Nations.

The NDA’s 2014 report had indicated that ARVs were primarily being used to treat African swine fever. This is commonly known as Pig Ebola, a disease with no known cure. It also verified claims of ARVs being used to treat Newcastle disease in chickens.

In response to Mr. Atumanya’s remarks, an NDA spokesperson defended the decision not to publicize the findings. He also reiterating the authority’s primary mandate to regulate drugs rather than food or animal feeds.

“If there was any public health threat concerning the drugs under use, NDA would be the first one to come out and warn the public, as we always do,” the spokesperson emphasized. They also highlighted the NDA’s ongoing efforts to curb drug misuse, which have led to several arrests and prosecutions.