Tanzania: Most Drugs to Be Made Locally

About 60 per cent of all medicines used in the country will be manufactured by local companies in the next five years, the government announced on Tuesday.

The Deputy Minister for Health, Social Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Dr Hamisi Kigwangala, said in the National Assembly here on Tuesday that a special strategy to ensure the target is reached was underway.

He was responding to a question by Mr Juma Nkamia (Chemba-CCM) who wanted to be apprised on the efforts the government is taking to ensure that patients get prescribed medicines at affordable prices.

Moreover, Dr Kigwangala said the government will form a special body, which will be tasked to set indicative prices for all pharmacies and all health facilities in the country. "We are working with the Ministry of Trade and Industry in a special strategy in which in the next five years, 60 per cent of all medicines needed are manufactured locally.

Our ultimate goal is to reduce foreign exchange spending for drugs importation and ensure better patient care," he said. He added that logistics are being worked out on modalities for indicative prices for medicine and hospital equipment taking into account the needs and environment.

Furthermore, Dr Kigwangala said the Medical Stores Department (MSD) has come up with a plan in which they will be buying medicines directly from the manufacturers to ensure both availability and low prices.

On the supplementary question posed by Ms Lolensia Bukwimba (Busanda-CCM) on when should the ministry set up MSD community outlets in district and regional hospital as it is the case with national and zonal hospitals, Dr Kigwangala said the policy did not allow them to do so.

"We can support them to set their own drug centres as well as offering them expertise, management and ICT system on how to set up and run them as it has proved to sell medicine at good prices", he told the House.

Mr Ridhiwani Kikwete (Chalinze-CCM) asked for clarification following reports in sections of the media that the Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH) will be selling all medicines even those that were offered for free.

Health Minister Ummy Mwalimu said she will write to the MNH, demanding an explanation since it was against the policy.

She pledged to bring back the feedback. She said she was sure it has been a misconception as the policy is clear that ARVs, Tuberculosis and other medicines for pandemics should be offered for free, the same as maternity care and services and treatment for elders and children under five years of age.

Source: Tanzania Daily News