By Blessings Mashaya
Government run National Pharmaceutical Company of Zimbabwe (NatPharm) is set to open pharmacies throughout the country to bring sanity to the pharmaceutical sector, Health and Child Care minister Obadiah Moyo has said.
Then Acting President Constantino Chiwenga and Health and Child Care Minister Obadiah Moyo (right) are led on a tour of NatPharm Warehouse in Harare by Natpharm Stores Pharmacist Rumbidzai Matambanadzo. — (Picture by Justin Mutenda) Moyo told the National Assembly mid last week that the parastatal will open its own pharmacies to end the current trend whereby private pharmacies are selling drugs in foreign currency (forex).
“NatPharm has been ordering medications on wholesale and local pharmacies have been buying these from NatPharm through the Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS). When they go out to their pharmacies, they then disburse these medications in foreign currency and we are saying we do not want that,” said the Health minister.
“In order for us to win this battle, NatPharm should open up its own pharmacies and we are considering this. Since it will be receiving medications from India, it will also be responsible for dispensing these medications which will be bought through RTGS, swipe or even bond notes.”
President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government has been unhappy with players in the pharmaceutical sector who are making their clients pay for drugs in forex.
Some of the pharmacies are actually sourcing their drugs from NatPham using bond notes or the RTGS yet they want their customers to pay for the same using United States dollars, which are scarce in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe’s health delivery system is currently battling a myriad of problems, primarily as a result of the worsening economic climate and government’s incompetence.
The country is experiencing serious drug shortages as a result of the acute shortages of foreign currency.
Zimbabwe needs about $400 million per year to meet its drug requirements for both public hospitals and the rest of the health services sector.
At its peak, Zimbabwe’s economy imported drugs minimally due to the then healthy state of its pharmaceutical industry, which was dominated by CAPS Holdings.
CAPS — now a struggling drug manufacturer — used to account for 75 percent of the local healthcare products and was involved in the manufacture, wholesale, distribution and retail of pharmaceutical, consumer and veterinary products.
Currently, the bulk of Zimbabwe’s medicines come from India, which is about 80 percent of the nation’s medical supplies.
Moyo said NatPham’s pharmacies will be established in most cities and will be selling medications at low prices.
Through NatPharm, government hopes to have a representative based in India so that the parastatal can buy medication from there at affordable prices.
“So far we have made arrangements to create a bigger fund in order to purchase these medications. We are glad the ministry of Finance and Economic Development is supportive of this programme and we are awaiting delivery of medications worth $25 million.
Meanwhile, we have some medicines which have been delivered but are not included in this $25 million,” he said.
NatPharm is a government-owned company charged with the procurement of drugs for all State-run hospitals in Zimbabwe.
It is a successor to the Government Medical Stores.
The company was established through an Act of Parliament, The Government Medical Stores (Commercialisation) No. 13 of 2000.
NatPharm’s objectives and functions include the purchase, sell, deal in and store medicines, medical equipment and other goods and articles for use in hospitals, clinics, pharmacies and other medical establishments; and to perform any other function set out in its memorandum of association.
In performing its functions, NatPharm is mandated to give priority to serving the needs of the State, to the extent that it is compatible to do so. DailyNews
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