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Cellphone levy boosts health

by Staff reporter
14 Aug 2017 at 06:48hrs | Views
The country's national drug stocks are expected to improve in a few weeks following an injection of $4 million every month by Government, specifically for drug procurement, Health and Child Care Minister Dr David Parirenyatwa has said.

Speaking after the Natpharm board of directors annual general meeting in Harare last week, Dr Parirenyatwa said an additional $5 million would also be released from Treasury through Treasury bills every year to buy drugs.

He said the $4 million was money realised from the 5 percent cellphone levy deducted from every $1 worth of airtime every month, while the $5 million was part of the $26 million that Government owed Natpharm in previous unpaid medical supplies.

Government has since cleared the $26 million through Treasury bills.

"Natpharm is now beginning to put its feet up completely and we are pleased with that because it reflects towards provision of more medicines and drugs to our institutions and, for the first time, we are going to see that improvement happening in the next few weeks," said Dr Parirenya- twa.

"All national medicines, generally that were in short supply, would improve, including drugs for cancer."

Dr Parirenyatwa said the latest development was expected to see Government's contribution towards the national stock increasing.

"As you know, 98 percent of our drugs were now donor dependent and we have always said it is a major security risk," he said. "But as we go towards this phase, through the health levy, we are now able to buy for ourselves and that is more sustainable and secure for our country."

Dr Parirenyatwa said Government would be able to wean itself from complete donor dependency soon.

Asked if all proceeds from the health levy would be channelled towards drug procurement, Dr Parirenyatwa said for now priority was on med- icines.

"We have put up a committee to look at our needs in the health sector related to drugs and equipment, but for now, we are going straight into drugs then perhaps other smaller equipment so that there is no shortage of, say, a high blood pressure machine or a thermometer," said Dr Parirenya- twa.

Speaking at the same occasion, Natpharm board chairperson Dr George Washaya said following the developments, Natpharm was looking forward to constructing warehouses in all its six branches across the country in anticipation of overwhelming sup- plies.

Construction of the major warehouse, which would be housed at Harare Central Hospital, has since began and work is at an advanced stage.

Dr Washaya said the board had deliberated on pooled procurement of supplies for all Government health institutions to reduce costs per product.

"We also discussed pooled procurement, instead of the Ministry of Finance giving money to individual hospitals to buy medicines as is the current norm, we want that money to come to Natpharm so that we do bulk purchase sand it becomes cheaper," said Dr Washaya.

Natpharm managing director Mrs Flora Sifeku said the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) was also committed to prioritising the company with foreign currency to facilitate smooth procurement of medicines.

"Normally, we get challenges of foreign currency, but the ministers of Health, Finance and the RBZ are now prioritising us in foreign currency allocation and we are now able to pay manufacturers," she said.

"We anticipate that this will also improve availability of med- icines."

Mrs Sifeku thanked Government for its continued efforts to ensure that the national drug supplies improved.

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Source - the herald