Af­ford­able health for all a pri­or­ity: ED

Sunday News (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page -

THE Gov­ern­ment is work­ing on mea­sures to make es­sen­tial drugs read­ily avail­able in hospi­tals and phar­ma­cies as it also seeks to re­boot the coun­try’s ca­pac­ity for lo­cal pro­duc­tion of drugs, Pres­i­dent Em­mer­son Mnan­gagwa has said.

Writ­ing on his weekly col­umn pub­lished by this pub­li­ca­tion and our sis­ter pa­per, The Sun­day Mail, the Pres­i­dent said phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal drug man­u­fac­tur­ers led by Caps Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals have to be res­ur­rected. He added that it was “un­ac­cept­able” that some drugs were be­ing sold in hard cur­rency in phar­ma­cies, fur­ther bur­den­ing the sick.

“I am happy that dis­cus­sions be­tween Caps and a prospec­tive part­ner are at a very ad­vanced stage. Be­fore long we will cel­e­brate a re­tooled and op­er­a­tional Caps which should recover its past glory as a key drugs sup­plier in the re­gion and on the con­ti­nent.

“Sim­i­lar com­pa­nies like Varichem, Phar­manova, Dat­labs, as well as NatPharm’s pro­posed man­u­fac­tur­ing sub­sidiary, NatMed, must, like­wise, be sup­ported. There is a huge mar­ket for drug manufactures on the con­ti­nent where only a cou­ple of na­tions have man­u­fac­tur­ing ca­pac­ity,” he said.

The Pres­i­dent added that the Gov­ern­ment was also work­ing on as­sist­ing the in­dus­try to im­port es­sen­tial drugs, as most com­pa­nies were be­ing af­fected by legacy debts to source drugs.

“The fig­ures be­fore me show that re­cent dis­burse­ments by the Re­serve Bank of Zim­babwe have largely been swal­lowed by the legacy debt, with very lit­tle go­ing to­wards fresh orders of phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal prod­ucts with which to meet cur­rent de­mand, let alone for re­stock­ing.

“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.

“In other cases, drugs may have to be im­ported through Gov­ern­ment to Gov­ern­ment ar­range­ments, with the re­spon­si­ble min­istry, sup­ported by the min­istries of Fi­nance and Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment, For­eign Af­fairs and In­ter­na­tional Trade, and Trans­port and In­fras­truc­tural De­vel­op­ment, mov­ing with speed to se­cure ar­range­ments, and to move drugs to sta­bilise the sit­u­a­tion in the short­est pos­si­ble time.”

Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa said the Vice-Pres­i­dent of In­dia will visit the coun­try this week and ne­go­ti­a­tions will be held 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,” he said.

The Pres­i­dent added that the health sec­tor should also ad­dress the skills fac­tor by get­ting more spe­cial­ists trained so that peo­ple do not have to travel out­side the coun­try for health ser­vices.

“Many Zim­bab­weans are turn­ing to for­eign coun­tries for spe­cialised health­care. This is very ex­pen­sive for our na­tion. Zim­babwe’s health­care is not com­pet­i­tive, rel­a­tive to sim­i­lar ser­vices in other coun­tries, de­vel­op­ing or de­vel­oped. But the story goes fur­ther than af­ford­abil­ity.

“It is also about sparse skills in the coun­try, and about poor­lye­quipped health fa­cil­i­ties. Yet what we end up spend­ing on for­eign care more than dou­bles what we need to build these spe­cial­ist skills, and to equip and stock our spe­cialised hospi­tals for more ad­vanced in­ter­ven­tions.”

The Pres­i­dent said, how­ever, the coun­try has reg­is­tered re­mark­able success in con­tain­ing com­mu­ni­ca­ble dis­eases, even be­com­ing a global model on best prac­tices. He said vi­tal medicines reach all clin­ics and hospi­tals through dis­tri­bu­tion chan­nels of NatPharm, the coun­try’s cen­tral ware­house for phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals and re­lated prod­ucts.

“Our Min­istry of Health and Child Care has iso­lated 19 drugs which must al­ways be in stock and avail­able in clin­ics and hospi­tals to un­der­pin our pri­mary health­care. In ad­di­tion, Gov­ern­ment en­sures ad­e­quate stocks for drugs for com­mu­ni­ca­ble dis­eases like HIV/Aids and tu­ber­cu­lo­sis, and for malaria. Our part­ners have also weighed in to com­ple­ment Gov­ern­ment ef­forts in de­liv­er­ing health ser­vices to our peo­ple. We thank them for their sup­port. My Ad­min­is­tra­tion has en­sured that we are able to offer free health ser­vices in cer­tain crit­i­cal areas, as well as tak­ing care of the vul­ner­a­ble,” he said.

For the full ar­ti­cle by His Ex­cel­lency, Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa turn to Page 8

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