THE Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe (MCAZ) says it is investigating a case whereby local contraceptive pills are reportedly being sold in neighboring South Africa at a time the country is battling to adequately meet local demand.
By Michael Gwarisa
Since 2019, Zimbabwe has been experiencing contraceptives stock-outs across the country and the recent lockdown phase as exacerbated the challenges. However, it seems certain local dealers and individuals have been smuggling the scarce commodity into neighboring countries including South Africa, a move which has affected local stocks to some extent.
Recently, certain individuals advertised on a Facebook Page under the name “Women in Business ZW Marketplace, a move which has prompted MCAZ to prompted MCAZ to investigate the issue.
In an interview with HealthTimes, MCAZ Director General, Ms Gugu Mahlangu said even though they have not received any official reports of medicines being smuggled into neighboring countries, particularly contraceptives, they had lodged an inquest into the issue.
However, the Authority would be investigating the advertisement of “Zim Family Planning Pills” on the Facebook group Women in Business ZW Marketplace. Information on the extent of the problem would best be obtained through the regulatory agencies in the affected countries,” said Ms Mahlangu.
Even though Zimbabwe has been having challenges in terms of contraceptives availability, Ms Mahlangu however said it would be difficult to attribute access challenges to smuggling, seeing as there is no clear indication of how much contraceptives are smuggled out of the country. Furthermore, access issues may be attributed to other supply chain challenges.
“The Authority controls Import/Export of medicines by ensuring that import/export of medicines is conducted according to the Medicines and Allied Substances Control (Import and Export of Medicines) Regulations, 2008. Statutory Instrument 57 of 2008.”
The Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe (MCAZ) Inspectorate department and has inspectors who conduct inspections of licensed and unlicensed premises that sell medicines to ensure that they comply with the regulations.
“The Authority also collaborates with the Zimbabwe Republic Police Drugs and Narcotics Section and other law enforcement agencies in enforcing these regulations. From time to time, the Authority conducts joint inspections and such kind of operations with the law enforcement agents to try and ensure that people abide by the law and that there is less of these unlicensed premises in the supply chain.
“The Authority also conducts capacity building activities with ZIMRA and Port Health officials to ensure continuous verification of consignments at the ports of entry/exit, where the Authority is not continuously present. The Authority also monitors advertisements on the various mainstream and social media platforms. Furthermore, the Authority conducts public awareness campaigns to educate the public on the need to buy approved medicines from approved sources,” said Ms Mahlangu.