Thandeka Moyo, Health Reporter
GOVERNMENT has availed nearly US$7 million for the purchase of medicines, a development set to ease drug shortages and price distortions.
Pharmacies started closing their doors from last week because of lack of foreign currency to import medical drugs. A few which are still operational resorted to charging in United States dollar while some increased their prices by up to 300 percent.
The worst affected patients are those suffering from chronic diseases like hypertension, diabetes and asthma whose conditions may worsen if they do not adhere to medication.
In a statement yesterday, the Pharmaceutical Society of Zimbabwe president Mr Portifa Mwendera applauded Government for releasing the money and for investing in Natpharm which will increase capacity to serve the local market and also export some drugs
“The Minister of Health and Child Care Dr Obadiah Moyo has advised the industry that the RBZ has allocated USD6,7million from a total requirement of USD29 million as of yesterday (September 11). The importers will advise us on how much the availed foreign currency can unlock of the closed supplier accounts and also how much medicines will be availed in due course considering that the amount released so far is still not adequate for immediate return to normalcy,” said Mr Mwendera.
He said the organisation was in continuous engagement with the Health Ministry as more funds were required to restore normalcy in the sector.
“The cause of the current shortage of medicines and price distortions in private pharmacies has been mainly due to the unavailability of foreign currency required to fund importation of raw materials for local production and finished products,” he said.
Mr Mwendera said the society was happy that there was also an allocation to Natpharm to fund public sector supplies and to local manufacturers so that they can also increase capacity to serve the local and export markets.
“Considering the fairly long lead times that exist in the pharmaceutical supply chain, the society will want to urge the public to remain calm in this period which has been characterised by some pharmacy closures and price uncertainties,” he said.
Mr Mwendera urged retail pharmacists to continue trading in a way that is both legal and keeps their practices viable. — @thamamoe