Drug crisis to worsen

Source: Drug crisis to worsen – DailyNews Live 19 January 2017

Bridget Mananavire

HARARE – The shortage of basic drugs in most health institutions is set to
worsen as it emerged that government is failing to honour Treasury Bills
(TBs) worth $3,5 million that had been issued to raise funds to import

The failure to honour the TBs – issued by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe –
has seen the paper being rolled over to allow government more time to
raise funding.

Health minister David Parirenyatwa said a number of measures taken by
government to alleviate the medicines crisis, including availing money for
the procurement of drugs, involves processes that take a long time.

“We got $3, 5 million Treasury Bills (in September last year), that tender
has been floated, and it’s taking an awfully long time but that’s the
situation,” he said.

TBs are short-term negotiable instruments issued by the government though
the central bank to finance short-term requirements and are issued for
periods ranging from 30 to 365 days.

“I think you are all aware that we have been having a situation where
Treasury has been called upon to support National Pharmaceutical Company
(Natpharm) where Natpharm is like our warehouse which receives all the
drugs we use at out hospitals and Natpharm is not well resourced,”
Parirenyatwa added.

“Natpharm was given $600 000 last week and $1 million after Christmas for
the purchase of drugs. There are tenders that are out now and that should
also cater for the anaesthetic drugs that are reported to be in short

The drug crisis in Zimbabwe has seen major hospitals suspend elective
operations last year, with recent revelations that the country was left
with only two weeks stock of anaesthetic drugs.

In his 2017 National Budget statement, Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa
introduced a five percent tax on airtime for the purchase of medicines and
equipment, to have commenced on January 1.

But acting Health ministry permanent secretary, Robert Madyiradima, told
the Parliament’s Health portfolio committee yesterday that the health levy
has not yet taking off, as they are still working on the modalities of
collection and policy guidelines.

“It will only take off when Treasury has worked out the policy,” he said.

“The Health ministry is ready to administer the fund, but Treasury is
still crafting a policy instrument to look at issues of how to collect the
money, and whether airtime users should share the costs with network
providers and issues like that.”

Parirenyatwa said they were still looking for an investor to partner CAPS
manufacturing, the biggest and government-controlled pharmaceutical
manufacturing company.

The company needs $6 million capitalisation to be revived.

“CAPS is under-utilised and the machines are now old as you saw during the
tour last year. So we think if we get a partner, to join forces with
government so that we can re-equip CAPS, this would help” the Health
minister said.

“So if we can get a foreign investor or any other investor who is willing
to partner with government, that would be good,” Parirenyatwa said.