Bongani Ndlovu, Business Reporter
ZIMBABWE could be the African industrial hub for manufacturing Indonesian pharmaceutical products if efforts by that country’s embassy come to fruition.
According to Indonesia Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Dewa Juniarta Sastrawan, talks are underway for Jakarta to work closely with the local pharmaceutical sector to promote production and marketing medical supplies to the rest of Africa.
He revealed this during the Diplomats’ Forum at the just-ended Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) in Bulawayo, where he announced a pledge of US$150 000 worth of medical supplies to assist Zimbabwean communities who were affected by Cyclone Idai in 2019.
Amb Sastrawan said the embassy held a meeting early last week where it made a decision to give Zimbabwe the funding for medical assistance.
“I have to be frank with you that when we decided to join this event (ZITF) last year, it was cancelled because of a pandemic. Because of this pandemic we weren’t able to participate fully,” he said.
“We had a virtual meeting with the pharmaceutical industry on September 21. We did this this year and the Indonesian government has contributed for the assistance for Cyclone Idai to the tune of US$150 000 for medication.
“So, we are working with the Zimbabwean ambassador in Jakarta to prepare this consignment. Hopefully it will arrive next month.
“So, this is part of our assistance in export opportunities. Next, we will work together to redevelop and revitalise the pharmaceutical industry in Zimbabwe. We are trying to use Zimbabwe as the manufacturing hub for our products in Africa,” said Amb Sastrawan.
Zimbabwe is already working towards boosting local production of pharmaceutical products to reduce over-reliance on imports, which at times presents potential risks to national health security.
The country imports nearly 90 percent of its pharmaceutical requirements, in the process expending hundreds of millions of scarce forex resources.
The Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Strategy in Zimbabwe 2021-2025, which was recently launched by Vice President Dr Constantino Chiwenga, who is the health minister, aims to address some of the challenges besetting the industry including doubling production of essential drugs to 60 percent and grow revenue to US$150 million from about US$32 million.
Amb Sastrawan commended organisers of the ZITF for successfully holding it under the trying Covid-19 times.
“I understand this isn’t the first time our embassy has participated. I join Zimbabwe and the locals in celebrating the holding of the ZITF during this pandemic. I agree with you that it isn’t easy like any other country like mine, in organising such events,” said Amb Sastrawan. — Follow on Twitter @bonganinkunzi