Judith Phiri, Business Reporter
THE National Pharmaceutical Company Zimbabwe (NatPharm) has reaffirmed its commitment to assist local pharmaceutical companies in sourcing active pharmaceutical ingredients in a bid to boost their production capacities.
Responding to questions from Sunday News Business, NatPharm acting managing director, Air Commodore (Rtd) Ivan Gibson Dumba said they were working on import substitution by assisting local companies to source ingredients.
“In compliance with Government issued directives, NatPharm gives priority to local manufacturers in sourcing all its medicines and medical supplies requirements.
“The company has committed to assist local pharmaceutical companies in sourcing active pharmaceutical ingredients to boost their production capacities, so that they can supply health sector products that Zimbabwe is importing in a bid to reduce the import bill,” said Rtd Air Comm Dumba.
He said NatPharm had embarked on revamping its production units in an endeavor to produce medicines complementing the efforts of companies in line with the local industrialisation thrust.
Rtd Air Comm Dumba said the organisation was still in the process of reviving capacity towards manufacturing, as in the past, they had production units which manufactured detergents and other basic medicines such as cough syrups.
“Currently the process of setting up a sanitiser manufacturing plant has begun as a pilot project towards establishing a full-fledged manufacturing unit. NatPharm is already into storage and distribution of drugs.
“The company is the largest local wholesale distributor of medicines which are destined to the last mile.”
In terms of allocations from Government, in phased disbursements from the Treasury, NatPharm has received $151 million for payments of handling services fees, more than $8 million for public sector investment programme used for Mutare warehouse access road and Harare warehouse plumbing services, and $165 million for Covid-19 procurements.
With the shortage of morphine drugs affecting most cancer patients in the country, Rtd Air Comm Dumba said NatPharm tries to make sure that they have several months’ stock of morphine.
“Judging from established consumption patterns, the available stocks cater for requirements in the public health institutions. Reprovisioning of additional stocks is in progress to boost current holdings,” he said.
He said they also stock other drugs used in palliative care and morphine was distributed using a pull system where a public institution submits its requirements to its local branch and the branch supplies accordingly.
“We would be pursuing this as soon as we kick start our manufacturing activities. The company is in strategic partnerships with state universities whose research capabilities would facilitate progress in diversifying NatPharm’s capacity to produce medicines for chronic illnesses,” he said.
NatPharm is a parastatal under the Ministry of Health and Child Care and its mandate is to procure, warehouse and distribute medicines, medical equipment and consumables to the public and private health sector institutions.
In line with the national vision of an empowered and prosperous upper middle-income society for the citizenry by 2030, NatPharm has said its vision is to provide access to quality and affordable medicines. The company management said it believes the national vision can only be realised by guaranteeing a healthy nation through provision of quality, efficient and affordable health services. In line with the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1) NatPharm said it firmly believes that this was a unique empowerment opportunity which seeks to actualise Government’s aspirations to empower local companies.