Health Minister Reads Riot Act To Unlicensed Medicine Street Vendors

HEALTH and Child Care Minister Dr Obadiah Moyo has tasked the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe (MCAZ) to strengthen its inspection activities on unlicensed medicine vendors to make sure they are arrested instantly.

By Kudakwashe Pembere

Dr Moyo directed the Authority to strengthen its arresting mechanisms to clear these people off the streets.

“There is someone who came and reported that they bought something in the hope it would be functional. I said why did you go to Fife Avenue Shopping Centre to start with, now you are in a situation worse off in terms of erectile dysfunction.

“We are now saying we have to take sterner action. We would like to see your inspectors with the police teams and clearing those people on a daily basis. Lets make an example and make sure we take care of business. Those doing unlawful things, the law must take its course,” he said.

He added MCAZ and police should go out and root out people at Mupedzanhamo and other spots where these illicit medication peddlers do their business.

“Let’s make sure we clear all those people and make sure these people are arrested. Let’s go to mupedzanhamo. They are selling all these illicit drugs while we just look and allow it to be the norm. It is not the norm. Let us make sure that this stops. Let us see the statistics. Let us see the number oif people who are at those centres. Basically they should not be found there. Let’s make sure our inspectorate department working together with the police are fully functional,” the Health Minister said.

The Health Minister  said these people should be arrested with immediate effect.

“Therefore anyone who is found at facilities not licensed, found roaming the streets selling  products which are not licensed, they have to be arrested with immediate effect. We as MCAZ we must take the action and have to see reports coming out showing that we are being effective,” he said.

MCAZ Director General Mrs Mahlangu said these people are taking advantage of the lenient law which provides an option of a fine.

“My main concern is that these people that do the peddling of drugs yes they get arrested.you know what they do when they get to the police station, they make them sign an admission of guilt form, pay a fine and then go. They might confiscate what these people have but then that is the end of it.

“It is time the New Dispensation that the new dispensation insists that if you do some of these things because in the law there is a custodial sentence and an option of a fine they must insist on a custodial sentence,” she said. “Even for a week I think it’s enough. Custodial sentences are the way to go if we want to wipe them out. Otherwise they might just say I will just pay the fine of between ZW$20 and ZW$100. The cost of doing business, let it be costly for them.”

Illicit unregistered medication vending is becoming the order of the day despite efforts by MCAZ in raising awareness of the dangers of buying these medications. However, MCAZ spokesperson Mr Richard Rukwata attributes this high concentration of such people on the streets as well as undesired and at times fatal side effects to the high costs of registered pharmaceutical products.

Retail Pharmacists Association spokesperson Mr Luckmore Bhunu said it was unfair for them toend stiffer penalties such as fines, being stripped off licenses while unlicensed medicine vendors are just fined Z$20 to Z$100.

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