Forex shortages hits drug imports
Thandeka Moyo, Health Reporter
ZIMBABWE’s supplies of drugs have been affected by the lack of foreign currency since the country imports about 90 percent of its medicines.
Speaking on the sidelines of a donation at Mpilo Central Hospital yesterday, Ministry of Health and Child Care acting permanent secretary Dr Gibson Mhlanga said 90 percent of the country’s drugs were dependant on foreign currency.
“Unfortunately, we have to buy about 90 percent of our medicines outside the country and with the ongoing forex shortages, we have not been spared from suffering,” he said. “All sectors are scrambling for the limited resources and we are most affected as local production is low and we rely on medication from outside Zimbabwe.”
Dr Mhlanga said following a critical shortage of a TB drug, the country has since secured six months supply of medication.
“We are relieved because we never ran completely out of the drug and we recently received new stock which will last us for six months,” he said.
According to Dr Mhlanga, donors and private organisations have been chipping in to alleviate the situation.
“We are hopeful that things will normalise as time goes on, but we are in dire need of forex and the Reserve Bank has been trying to share the money among all sectors,” he said.
Community Working Group on Health director Mr Itai Rusike said health organisations were still lobbying Government to prioritise the sector in forex allocation. “The major constraint to procurement in 2018 has been the unavailability of foreign currency to procure drugs,” he said. “Foreign currency supplies from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe can lag behind for as much as four to six months.
“We have been proposing that foreign currency be prioritised for essential drug access or drugs would have to be purchased from private sector suppliers at very high prices. Treatment of chronic diseases is threatened when drugs are not available, undermining treatment compliance.”
A week ago, doctors at Mpilo complained that the public institution had run out of Oxytocin, 50 percent Dextrose and Lignocaine, drugs which are essential during emergencies.
Oxytocin is used to induce labour or strengthen labour contractions during childbirth, and to control bleeding after childbirth.