THE National Pharmaceutical Company of Zimbabwe (NatPharm), in conjunction with development partners have embarked on a decongestion exercise for the NatPharm Harare warehouse in a bid to boost efficiency and effectiveness of the warehouse.
By Michael Gwarisa
Speaking to Journalists on the sidelines of a media tour of the NatPharm Harare warehouse, NatPharm Board Chairman, Billy Rigava said they were just a channel through which medicines and medical supplies pass through.
“As NatPharm, we are currently guided by the 2020 to 2022 board approved strategic plan. To this end, NatPharm in conjunction with development partners are currently involved in an exercise where we are decongesting the warehouse at the Harare regional stores.
“This decongesting will really enable the warehouses to deliver the medicines and medical supplies in a more effective way and classifying these in different units. So, we have Antiretroviral medicines (ARVs) in one section, we have laboratory equipment in another section. When you see items at Natpharm, get to know that we are a conduit, we are making sure that the items go to the health institutions,” said Rigava.
He added that the benefits of decongesting the warehouse have already started showing especially around efficiency and effectiveness of the holding processes from the medical institutions that are supplied by NATPHARM. The organization also has a Strategic Business Unit (SBU) that supplies the private health sector if it is well-stocked.
He also said NatPharm was working on a plan to boost local production of medications with the aim of reducing the country’s medicines import bill as well as ensure drug stockouts become a thing of past.
“We want to encourage the growth of the local manufacturing industry in Zimbabwe and we are already busy engaging with them in terms of giving us what we call the active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs).
“We feel these local Pharmaceutical wholesalers will manufacture for NatPharm then we will distribute these medicines to the local institutions reducing the costs of medicines. Currently, a lot of medicines are imported and yet we have local manufacturing arms that are able to manufacture these medicines but do lack the foreign currency to then manufacture the medicines,” said Rigava.
He added that the general consensus is that they have to work with everyone and they open the invitation up to the manufacturing industry and they take on board whoever is prepared to work with them.
“When we open the invitation, some will express interest but they will be some who will say we are happy to continue doing what we have always been doing. Just a few days ago, there was a visit here by local manufacturers and they met management to then to discuss the ways for us increasing the capacity of the local manufacturing. The big manufacturing companies, CAPS and VARICHEM have already shown interest to work with NatPharm, but we have not closed doors for others who may want to be part of this.”
He added their role as NatPharm was to go to treasury and ask for the requisite foreign currency so that the manufacturing companies can be able to produce and supply for NatPharm in the process reducing the price for the end user. He also applauded the contribution rendered by local universities and tertiary institutions for ramping up manufacturing of COVID-19 tools and equipment which saved the country an import of not less than US$4 Million.
Meanwhile, NatPharm Acting Operations Manager, Zealous Nyabadza said majority of medications at NatPharm were coming from donors and development partners.
“Commodities do come in several different ways but mainly in two ways which are donations and procurements. Donations are done through well-wishers; the well-wishers include some other friendly governments and also some development partners.
“When you talk of development partners, we have partners such as UNDP, UNICEF, USAID, UNFPA and others. These do bring commodities to the citizens of Zimbabwe. Just last year alone, we held commodities that passed through NatPharm from these development partners worth over US$130 million,” said Mr Nyabadza.