THE National Pharmaceutical Company of Zimbabwe (NatPharm) is working on a plan to boost local production of medicines, which will see the country reducing its import bill.
Speaking to Journalists on the sidelines of a media tour of the NatPharm Harare warehouse last Friday, Board Chairperson, Dr Billy Rigava said the production of medicines locally could address perennial challenges of drug shortages the country is facing.
“We want to reach a point where the bulk of medicines can be produced locally. This will not only reduce the import bill but will also result in the availability and affordability of the medicines to the end user.
“We want to encourage the growth of the local manufacturing industry in Zimbabwe and we are already busy engaging with them in terms of giving us what we call the active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs).
“We feel these local Pharmaceutical wholesalers will manufacture for NatPharm then we will distribute these medicines to the local institutions, reducing the costs of medicines.
Currently, a lot of medicines are imported and yet we have local manufacturing arms that are able to manufacture these medicines but do lack the foreign currency to then manufacture the medicines.”
Dr Rigava added that their role as NatPharm is to ask treasury for the requisite foreign currency so that manufacturing companies can be able to produce and supply for NatPharm, in the process reducing the price for the end user.
The NatPharm Chairperson said they realized the benefits of local manufacturing when they partnered local universities at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We worked with local universities and tertiary institutions in the production of Covid-19 tools and equipment which saved the country not less than US$4 million in imports.
“We are set to realise huge benefits if the same is done for medicines,” he said.
NatPharm’s Acting Operations manager, Zealous Nyabadza told ZTN that at the moment, Zimbabwe imports most of its medicines and 90 percent of the medicines handled by Natpharm are donor funded.
“Commodities do come in several different ways but mainly in two ways, which are donations and procurements. Donations are done through well-wishers. The well-wishers include some other friendly governments and also some development partners.
“When you talk of development partners, we have partners such as UNDP, UNICEF, USAID, UNFPA and others. These do bring commodities to the citizens of Zimbabwe. Just last year alone, we held commodities that passed through NatPharm from these development partners worth over US$130 million,” said Nyabadza.