BY VENERANDA LANGA
HEALTH minister Obadiah Moyo on Thursday told Senate that drugs being sold on the streets were very dangerous and, at times, people were duped into buying ash packaged as capsules under the pretext that these were genuine antibiotics.
He said the Health ministry and the Zimbabwe Republic Police would now pounce on people selling illicit medicines on the streets because they endangered lives.
Moyo was responding to a question from Matabeleland South Senator Bekithemba Mpofu (MDC Alliance) who had asked him to explain government policy on preventing smuggling or importation of counterfeit drugs into the country, as well as the measures that government was taking to stop such medicines from being sold on the black market.
“We encourage people to stay away from buying medicines on the streets because it is very dangerous, but you find people continuing to do so,” he said.
“At times, these counterfeit medicines might not even be effective because they can fill up the capsules with ashes and you think you are taking proper antibiotics when you are not. They can even fill up the capsules with powdered paracetamol, and you will feel some pain relief because of the paracetamol and think that it is an effective antibiotic.”
Moyo said drug smugglers would be apprehended through the department which deals strictly with that working in conjunction with the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe.
“Those are fake medicines and they are medicines which are not supposed to be given willy-nilly. Medicines have to be prescribed and we have to be absolutely careful on what we ingest as humans in terms of medicines. It must be the correct medicines,” he said.
The Health minister was also asked by Mashonaland Central Senator Angeline Tongogara (Zanu PF) and Mashonaland West Senator Sikelela Gumpo (Zanu PF) to explain the issue of fires that have been gutting down hospitals and pharmacies, and whether the affected hospitals had fire extinguishers.
“There is no hospital which is allowed to operate without firefighting equipment. All this equipment and water will be there. It is part of our regulations that each and every hospital should have functioning fire extinguishers that are checked every quarter on functionality,” Moyo said.
Last month, Mbuya Nehanda Hospital was destroyed by fire and Kariba District Hospital’s pharmacy and X-ray department were also burnt down due to an electrical fault last week.