We’re end­ing drug short­ages: ED

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - FRONT PAGE - Lin­coln Towindo Se­nior Re­porter

GOVERN­MENT will take ad­van­tage of the visit by In­dia’s Vice-Pres­i­dent Venka­iah Naidu, who is ex­pected in Zim­babwe this week, to ex­plore mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial part­ner­ships that could help re­ha­bil­i­tate the coun­try’s once-vi­brant phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal sec­tor.

Govern­ment plans to guar­an­tee ad­e­quate sup­ply of essen­tial drugs in the coun­try.

In his weekly col­umn in The Sun­day Mail, Pres­i­dent Em­mer­son Mnan­gagwa said his ad­min­is­tra­tion was ag­gres­sively pur­su­ing ways of cush­ion­ing the pub­lic from medicine short­ages.

He said the visit by In­dia’s VP pre­sented an op­por­tu­nity to tap into the Asian emerg­ing eco­nomic gi­ant’s glob­ally recog­nised achieve­ments in phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals.

In­dia has the world’s third-largest phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal in­dus­try in terms of vol­ume.

“This week we will host the Vice-Pres­i­dent of In­dia. In­dia is a key drug sup­plier to us. Govern­ment hopes to take full ad­van­tage

of this fra­ter­nal visit to ex­plore pos­si­bil­i­ties on phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal sup­plies on the back of govern­ment-to-govern­ment ar­range­ments.

“Like­wise, we will en­gage other gov­ern­ments with sup­ply ca­pac­ity at good value for money. Our scope of en­gage­ment with friendly gov­ern­ments will go be­yond drug im­ports.

“We will ex­plore ways to re­boot our ca­pac­ity for the lo­cal pro­duc­tion of essen­tial drugs as be­fore,” said Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa.

Zim­babwe’s drug sup­ply sit­u­a­tion, he added, was be­ing ham­pered by a $27 mil­lion legacy debt owed by pri­vate im­porters to for­eign sup­pli­ers.

For­eign cur­rency dis­burse­ments for the health sec­tor by the Re­serve Bank of Zim­babwe, as a re­sult, have largely been in­ef­fec­tive as they have been chan­nelled to ser­vic­ing debts rather than bring­ing in sup­plies of drugs.

Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa’s ad­min­is­tra­tion will use NatPharm, which pro­cures and sup­plies drugs on be­half of Govern­ment, to be­gin pur­chas­ing medicines as it not as fi­nan­cially en­cum­bered as pri­vate sec­tor play­ers.

This is also en­vis­aged to lower prices of live-sav­ing drugs as hap­pened when the Na­tional Aids Coun­cil started procur­ing an­tiretro­vi­ral drugs, forc­ing pri­vate sup­pli­ers to lower their medicine prices.

Govern­ment will in­ject $60 mil­lion into NatPharm to sta­bilise drugs sup­ply, while funds are be­ing mo­bilised to re­tire the legacy debt and en­able the pri­vate sec­tor to play its role.

“In the im­me­di­ate and in­terim, we must use our na­tional drug store fa­cil­ity, NatPharm, which is the least en­cum­bered, as our ve­hi­cle for plac­ing fresh orders for medicines, while we tackle the legacy debt.

“Where for­eign drug sup­pli­ers have lo­cal agents who may be in­ca­pac­i­tated to im­port for rea­sons al­ready cited, some ar­range­ments may have to be reached with NatPharm so we move speed­ily to plug the im­port gap,” he said.

Zim­babwe, the Pres­i­dent noted, once man­u­fac­tured more than 80 per­cent of the coun­try’s drugs through vi­brant phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal man­u­fac­tur­ers and en­ter­prises such as CAPS, Dat­labs, Phar­manova and Varichem.

Plans are un­der­way to re­vamp CAPS as talks with a prospec­tive part­ner are be­ing fi­nalised.

Govern­ment also in­tends to di­rect more re­sources to fight non-com­mu­ni­ca­ble dis­eases, as donor sup­port is mainly con­cen­trated in com­mu­ni­ca­ble dis­eases and at pri­mary health­care level.

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