$3,5m shot in the arm for hospitals

Source: $3,5m shot in the arm for hospitals | The Herald September 3, 2016

Paidamoyo Chipunza : Senior Health Reporter

Government has, through Treasury Bills secured $3,5 million to buy drugs for public health institutions, Health and Child Care Minister Dr David Parirenyatwa, has said. This comes in the wake of an acute shortage of critical drugs in most public health institutions. Dr Parirenyatwa said the move was positive as it would improve the situation in Government hospitals.“We got a letter from the Minister of Finance (Patrick Chinamasa) written to Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor (John Mangudya), where they have allowed us to purchase $3,5 million worth of drugs using Treasury Bills.

“To us, that is a positive development.”

Dr Parirenyatwa embarked on a nationwide tour of hospitals recently, where he assessed the drug situation in district, provincial and central hospitals.

During the tour, Dr Parirenyatwa was advised of the massive shortage of essential drugs. Investigations by The Herald also revealed that no drug procurements were done by Government since the beginning of the year.

In response to this dire situation, Dr Parirenyatwa implored Treasury to urgently disburse funds to enable hospitals to meet their obligations of providing health care services.

“Treasury has responded positively to our plea. We have already received the letter to say that we can now buy drugs through Treasury Bills. It is now a question of these companies doing the purchases,” said Dr Parirenyatwa.

The most hit by resource shortage was Midlands Province, which was only allocated $450 000 in the 2016 National Budget, but only got $3 000 in May this year. The $3 000 availed to Midlands was not only for drugs, but for other operational costs that included food for patients and utility bills.

Most hospitals were failing to dispense drugs like antibiotics and pain killers, compromising health delivery to thousands of people.

In some instances, patients turned to private pharmacies and clinics where prices are beyond the reach of many.

According to the National Pharmaceutical Company (Natpharm), which procures drugs on behalf of Government institutions, the country requires at least $65 million to buy drugs a year.

However, the organisation last received an allocation of $2,5 million in 2014 leaving the pharmaceutical sector in a precarious position.

Natpharm is on recording saying 98 percent of drugs in their stocks where procured by development partners.

The company is also owed an excess of $11 million, which accrued from drugs supplied to Government institutions and mission hospitals over the past years.