Rumbidzayi Zinyuke-Senior Health Reporter
A five-year strategy to capacitate the pharmaceutical industry to increase local production of essential and affordable medicines has been approved by Government.
Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa yesterday said Cabinet was aware that the major challenge affecting the pharmaceutical sector was low production due to use of obsolete and antiquated equipment, cumbersome registration procedures and limited innovation.
“Implementation of the Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Strategy will not only resolve these bottlenecks, but will also result in increased production of essential medicines for both domestic and export markets,” she said.
“The objectives of the strategy include the following: to increase the market share of local pharmaceutical products from the current 12 percent to 35 percent by 2025; to increase local production of essential medicines from US$31,5 million to US$150 million by 2025; to increase local production of essential medicines from 30 percent to 60 percent by 2025 and to improve exports of pharmaceutical products from 10 percent to 25 percent by 2025.”
For the pharmaceutical sector to meet the set objectives, Minister Mutsvangwa said the Government will implement measures that include increased production, enhancement of competitiveness, market expansion, production diversification, export development, improved ease of doing business and mobilisation of the required financial resources.
Minister Mutsvangwa said NatPharm will increase its capacity to procure locally-manufactured pharmaceutical products while the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe will be capacitated to ensure faster registration of pharmaceutical products and to develop a programme on plant refurbishments, and upgrading and improvements in quality management systems.
This is expected to ensure that the local manufacturers comply with international pharmaceutical manufacturing quality standards and enhance competitiveness locally and internationally.
Minister Mutsvangwa said the Government, in collaboration with local industry, will also push for the elimination of non-tariff barriers to promote export development.
Responding to questions from journalists, Minister of Industry and Commerce Dr Sekai Nzenza said there would be a collaborative approach with the Ministries of Health and Child Care, of Industry and Commerce and of Higher and Tertiary Education and stakeholders in the private sector.
She said there were concerted efforts towards research and innovation.
“Our main aim is to achieve this through competitiveness, availability and affordability of locally-manufactured medicines. The result will be a viable vibrant pharmaceutical industry which can compete in the global value chain.
“As part of the research and innovation, we will be looking into research on traditional medicines.
“We know with the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been a lot of talk about Zumbani. This is just one of the traditional herbal plants in Zimbabwe which already the Ministry of Higher Education is looking into,” she said.
The Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Strategy in Zimbabwe -2021-2025 strategy does include, through the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development, research around the potential use of traditional herbal medicines in the management and treatment of Covid-19.