Govt takes steps to cut high cost of medicines

Government is working on a new system of drug procurement and distribution for the public sector to ensure that critical medicines are available at affordable rates, Health and Child Care Deputy Minister Dr John Mangwiro has said.

Speaking to radiologists and other cancer stakeholders attending a cancer conference organised by Talk Cancer Zimbabwe (TCZ) in commemoration of Breast Cancer Month, Dr Mangwiro said the procurement system in place made cost of medicines expensive.

“There is a system that has been in place, which contributed to the high cost of medicines,” he said. “We are trying to put in place other systems that will make things cheaper.”

Dr Mangwiro said these systems included procurement of medicines direct from manufacturers instead of using intermediates.

“We want to work with a system where people get drugs at cheaper rates and we want to make sure that drugs are available to everyone constantly from the primary health facility up to quaternary facilities,” he                                              said.

“This involves making sure that drugs are accessed from where they are manufactured at cheaper rates.”

Dr Mangwiro said in addition to procurement of drugs direct from manufacturers, Government will further ensure that they were distributed equally and timeously.

He said Government was also looking into recapitalisation of local manufacturing industries to ensure that they operated at full capacity to meet demand.

Already, Novartis – one of the leading global pharmaceutical manufacturing companies – has offered Zimbabwe a package of critical drugs, which include cancer medicines at a cost of $1 a course a month.

According to the company, plans were already at an advanced stage with the Medicines and Control Authority of Zimbabwe to turn the offer into reality.

Turning to the cancer conference, Dr Mangwiro applauded TCZ for making an initiative to raise awareness on cancer signs and symptoms and demystify myths and misconceptions associated with its diagnosis and treat-  ment.                                                                           He said most people were presenting to health institutions for treatment when it was already too late for interventions, leading to high death                           rates.

Speaking at the same occasion, one of TCZ’s founder members, Ms Michelle Madzudzo, said the organisation was formed to encourage screening and early treatment of cancers.

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