LEGISLATORS say they are against the National Pharmaceutical Company (NatPharm)’s idea of setting up retail pharmacies at a time when hospitals and clinics in the country do not have medicines.
By Kudakwashe Pembere
During a tour of NatPharm by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health, Committee chair Dr Ruth Labode said the establishment of NatPharm’s retail pharmacies was deceitful of the Ministry of Health and Childcare and the company to come up with this idea when public health institutions’ pharmacies do not have some of the medications.
“I think on this issue of pharmacies, as a committee from what I am hearing is that we reject it and we shall inform the minister and we shall do a press conference. If he must throw himself in the swimming pool ngaaende hake but taramba isu (he can go but we reject). He is a Minister after all,” she said.
Dr Labode also said that it was an ill-conceived suggestion to start these retail pharmacies as they would only be available in the central business districts of major cities while other areas are sidelined.
“It is senseless to see people queue to a NatPharm Pharmacy all the way from areas like Kuwadzana for the medicines and what of people in the rural areas?,” she said.
She also said NatPharm should desist the habit of swallowing everything that the Minister said but should act as an advisor as mandated.
Another parliamentarian said the idea of starting these pharmacies was unacceptable as hospitals would be deprived of these medicines.
The same was echoed by Hurungwe Legislator, DoubtNdiweni who said it was unnecessary for NatPharm to get embroiled in the starting up of pharmacies.
“I don’t know how NatPharm got entangled into this whole thing. There is plenty of overheads that you are going to bear yet you have got clinics, hospital pharmacies, why don’t you concentrate on supplying those. You have the infrastructure, you have the personnel in government pharmacies that are in existence,” he said.
“This whole scheme of things is hypocritical since you are hiding behind a finger saying we did it for the poor forgetting that these people have for years been failing to buy the medicines in the local bond currency.”
NatPharm Managing Director Mrs Florah Sifeku said the idea of retail pharmacies was birthed after seeing how the poor are struggling to pay for medicines in the United States currency.
The company’s IT manager said some of the retail pharmacies are nearing completion as well as some warehouses.