DAR ES SALAAM-- The Tanzanian government is conducting a pilot project to use drug-dropping drones to transport life saving blood and medical supplies to Ukerewe Island in Lake Victoria - a move that aims to improve the health service in the country.

Medical Stores Department (MSD) Director General Laurean Bwanakunu told reporters that the department was currently conducting the pilot project to Ukerewe Island of Lake Victoria, the move that will improve service coverage in the country.

We will soon announce tender for the company that will enter into agreement with MSD to supply the drones, said the MSD Director General while briefing journalists on achievements that the department has registered in the three years of the fifth phase government.

Bwanakunu pointed out other ongoing plans by MSD as sealing deals with pharmaceutical companies under Public-Private Partnership (PPP) to establish more pharmaceutical industries in the country.

This will help the country to save foreign currency used to import drugs and medical supplies, annually. It will also promote the government's main agenda of industrial economy, he said.

Bwanakunu said MSD has already acquired land in Mwanza, Simiyu and Coast regions for pharmaceutical industries, saying the envisaged factories will produce medical drugs and supplies which are presently not available in the country.

About 213 types of medical drugs and supplies, including cotton medical products will now be produced by the industries in the country. Presently, some 85 per cent of medical drugs and supplies are imported, he said.

Bwanakunu said MSD intends to announce tender for international and local business operators to invest in the pharmaceutical industries through PPP, saying the National Committee for PPP has already given green light for the mega project.

As for availability of medical drugs and supplies in public health facilities, Bwanakunu, said by the end of last fiscal year, MSD had improved availability by 95 per cent, adding that the department has increased the number of available essential medical drugs from 135 to 312 in this financial year.

He attributed the great achievements and transformation in MSD to an increase of budget allocation by the government from 29.25bn/- in 2015/2016 to 251.5bn/- in 2016/2017, an equivalent of 88 per cent.

Bwanakunu further said the government had increased budget from 251.5bn/- in 2015/2016 financial year to 260bn/ in 2017/2018 and 269bn in 2018/2019 financial year.

He said further MSD had acquired 181 brand new vehicles to transport medical drugs and supplies, charging that the new vehicles have helped to improve delivery of medical drugs and supplies across the country.