Govt moves to plug procurement loopholes

Source: Govt moves to plug procurement loopholes | Sunday News (local news)

Harare Bureau
AT least 40 percent of medical supplies in hospitals and public pharmaceutical companies should be produced and procured locally to reduce the country’s import bill, and curb procurement leakages.

The measure is part of the Ministry of Health and Child Care’s restructuring exercise being undertaken by Government to improve efficiency and transparency in the sector. Under the policy, Government will set up medical research laboratories, which will be required to produce medical supplies to be used in hospitals.

Hospitals and companies such as National Pharmaceutical Company (NatPharm) will then be required to procure locally in a move aimed at curbing corruption and reducing the import bill. This comes after a recent audit by Government showed that hospitals were importing medical equipment worth over US$1 billion annually including drips, clutches, pins and wheelchairs.

Acting Minister of Health and Child Care Professor Amon Murwira said the exercise seeks to foster transparency and efficiency in the sector, which has been riddled with procurement loopholes.

“Hospitals are importing everything from clutches, drips and pins so we want to remove that culture because it is bleeding the sector. Our service delivery is oiled by products that we use in the medical areas, so if we import everything there will be no room for improved service delivery. We have also realised that importing has become a business which is resulting in corruption in most hospitals and companies. So the restructuring will lead to curbing the leakages that were now in the sector, which saves money and benefits employees. We are now putting structures that will enable us to be able to manufacture some of these medical needs.”

Prof Murwira added that the Ministry had resuscitated nine health councils which had expired in line with the restructuring process. The Health Professions Authority (HPA) of Zimbabwe, Medical and Dental Practitioners’ Council of Zimbabwe (MDPCZ), Allied Health Practitioners Council of Zimbabwe, Natural Therapists Council of Zimbabwe, Nurses Council of Zimbabwe, Pharmacists Council of Zimbabwe, Medical Laboratory and Clinical Scientists Council of Zimbabwe, and Medical Rehabilitation Practitioners Council of Zimbabwe, were all resuscitated last week to help with the restructuring exercise.

“Last week we managed to re-register nine health councils which will also help in the restructuring of the health sector. We have asked for their input and they have all responded so we are now incorporating their responses. Some of the councils will be used to manufacture and produce medical supplies, so we need them on board.”

The health sector is currently enmeshed in corruption which has seen prices of medical sundries being inflated and some supplies diverted to the black market. In the last two months, three NatPharm managers and four board members have been arrested on allegations of abuse of office. The arrested board members are Dr Billy Rugava, Advocate Racheal Chibaya, Dr Johnson Shonhe and Dr Harunavamwe Chifamba.