HEALTH stakeholders from the pharmaceutical industry have called on the country to seriously consider local production of medicines as medical costs and drugs continue to skyrocket.
BY PHYLLIS MBANJE
This came out during the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe (MCAZ)’s second annual general meeting (AGM) which was held on Friday in Harare. The workshop discussed the issue of manufacturing drugs in the country.
Most of the health stakeholders that attended the workshop said drugs were beyond the reach of many and, therefore, there was need to curb malpractices in the sector in order to plug loopholes that result in drug outages and the high costs of medicines.
Acting Health minister Amon Murwira said it was time for Zimbabwe to focus on locally produced drugs and sundries.
“We need to create an enabling environment that promotes local production of medicines and medical devices,” Murwira said.
“The advent of COVID-19 has worsened the situation and exposed the great need to plug the gaps in the pharmaceutical sector,” he said.
Pharmacists said the COVID-19 pandemic had changed the manner of doing business. They said many people could no longer afford drugs whose prices have skyrocketed.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed that we need more home-grown solutions within the pharmaceutical and medical sectors,” said Tariro Makamure-Sithole the projects and public relations manager of the MCAZ.
Nyasha Bandason from the Pharmaceutical Wholesalers said: “The regulator must be responsive to market needs and embrace the concept of harmonisation of regulatory standards to facilitate efficient product registration.”
Zimbabwe has an acute shortage of critical drugs and medicines and this has pushed the prices up with most pharmacists now rejecting medical aid and demanding cash up front.
Around 80% of available drugs and medicines are imported with the remaining 20% locally manufactured.