GOVERNMENT will increase domestic funding of the local pharmaceutical industry to improve citizens’ access to medicines which have become expensive and inaccessible to many.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Ministry of Health and Child Care and Public Service strategic workshop in Mutare last week, Deputy Minister Dr John Mangwiro said the Government would capacitate 13 local pharmaceutical companies for them to start producing drugs locally.
This, he said, would allow the country to stop importing drugs and medical sundries that can be produced locally and save foreign currency.
“You find that medicines have become more expensive in Zimbabwe than in South Africa or Botswana. So we are now re-establishing our companies and we will support them with the market for their medicines.
“They will be assisted to import the activated pharmaceutical ingredients that they might need. We will encourage them to do that as a group to cut on costs and create many jobs,” he said.
The deputy minister highlighted that the country was importing things like intravenous drips which could be produced locally.
By locally manufacturing such commo-
ities, Dr Mangwiro said the country could save foreign currency and improve access to health care.
“Government will be the biggest customers for our local manufacturers. We want to turn things around such that 80 percent of our medicine will be locally manufactured and locally available. That way, people will access more affordable medical care,” he said.
The financing of the country’s drug supply has been mainly partner driven, with partners importing the medicines.
Dr Mangwiro said as the country works towards reviving the health and drugs manufacturing sectors, Treasury will allocate more funds to the health sector.
Finance and Economic Development Minister, Professor Mthuli Ncube is expected to present the 2021 National Budget this month.
Experts say the revival of the health sector needs a bigger chunk of the budgetary allocations, especially in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Dr Mangwiro said domestic funding for the local pharmaceutical industry will allow for the use of local currency.
“We are calling on the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development to increase the Health Ministry’s budget allocation so that our local manufacturing capacity is enhanced.
“If we deal with local funding, our companies will start manufacturing the medicines we need using our Zimbabwean dollar and we will not struggle to get foreign currency to buy finished products.
“We are advocating for adequate funding for every sector, including agriculture where we may need some plants to manufacture the medicines locally,” he said.
Dr Mangwiro also spoke about the importance of manufacturing medical equipment such as walking aids and wheelchairs locally.
“We need to create an environment where the specialists are confident of providing the best service to the people, where all the necessary gadgets are readily available,” he said.