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Zimbabwe to become regional vaccines manufacturing hub

by Staff reporter
21 May 2022 at 17:58hrs | Views
ZIMBABWE could soon become a hub for manufacturing vaccines and injectable drugs for national and continental consumption as discussions open for a joint venture deal between NatPharm and a major Indonesian company.

Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, who is also Health and Child Care Minister, outlined the potential deal here yesterday after meeting management of giant medical consumables manufacturer, Bio Farma, on the sidelines of the just-ended Water, Sanitation Hygiene, Sector Ministers meeting.

Bio Farma are keen to get a foothold inside Africa and are prepared to see technology transfers so manufacturing can be done in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe already manufactures medicinal drugs but is yet to venture into the critical injectables and large volume intravenous fluids sub-sector, a gap which could be covered by the mooted partnership. After opening discussions for a production agreement with Government officials here, VP Chiwenga visited Indonesia's giant medicinal plant to get a first hand feel of its operations.

He said he has been impressed by the Indonesian company's eagerness to quickly move on the ground, work on modalities and start working on the joint venture.

"The tour and the briefings you (Indonesians) have given us showed us that you have expertise in manufacturing various pharmaceutical products especially vaccines, among others," said VP Chiwenga. "As Minister of Health and Child Care, I fully welcome your interest to partner with the National Pharmaceutical Company of Zimbabwe (NatPharm), which is wholly owned by the Government to manufacture pharmaceutical products including vaccines in Zimbabwe. We are ready to receive you in Zimbabwe to discuss this proposal. We appreciate the fact that your company has a lot of experience in this area and manufactures vaccines for measles, polio, hepatitis B and pentavalent vaccines for domestic use and for the WHO and UNICEF.

"You have modern technology and through this partnership, there will be reciprocal exchange of skills and transfer of technology to our pharmaceutical industry".

There exists a gap in Zimbabwe's pharmaceutical industry where huge injectables and large volume intravenous fluids are not produced locally, providing opportunities for investment.

Zimbabwe is strategically positioned within the SADC region providing a platform to create distribution into the continent under the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA), wich has a market of 1.2 billion people.

In their proposal to partner Natpharm, Bio Farma's chief executive officer Mr Honesti Basyr said they will transfer technology to their Zimbabwean counterparts.

If the partnership materialises as envisaged, the company said Zimbabwe's entity will be responsible for "regulatory affairs, distribution and marketing, financial management" while Bio Farma's role would be technology transfer for existing vaccines and supply of bulk vaccines.

Bio Farma is a diversified company which manufacturers various medical consumables including Covid-19 vaccines.

They export their products to over 150 countries across the globe including the United States of America, countries in Europe, Africa, Asia among others through partnerships with United Nations agencies.

The arrangement dovetails with the role prescribed to Natpharm by the Government to look beyond their largely warehouse and distribution of consumables role, and start production.

They have already heeded the call and set up a production division which saw them manufacture some of the consumables used to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Zimbabwe's comprehensive response of the virus, minimising its effects on the citizenry, has won the praise of several countries across the globe.

Source - The Herald
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