LOCAL manufacturing of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), hand sanitisers, face masks and other essential equipment needed in the fight against COVID-19 by Zimbabwean Universities has manged to cut the import bill by US$4 Million, HealthTimes has learnt.
By Michael Gwarisa
In an interview, NatPharm Acting Operations Manager, Mr Zealous Nyabadza said the contribution by tertiary institutions towards the COVID-19 fight had marked the beginning of a greater partnership between the organisation and tertiary institutions
The partnership between NatPharm and Universities has drastically reduced the import bill by over USD4 Million on Covid-19 PPE. The partnership is growing from strength to strength.
“By next year, we should be exporting the commodities in the region, thereby generating the much-needed foreign currency for the country. Just watch the space!!!,” said Mr Nyabadza.
At the begining of the COVID-19 induced lockdown, NatPharm enter ed into arrangements with various universities throughout the country to meet demand of the hygienic products, as well as personal protective equipment to combat Covid-19. Some of the universities NatPhharm engaged include the University of Zimbabwe (UZ), Great Zimbabwe University, Bindura University of Science Education, Chinhoyi University of Technology, Midlands State University and the National University of Science and Technology among others.
By September, UZ A and a local company had already commenced manufacturing swabs required for collecting COVID-19 samples. The swabs were been submitted to the Ministry of Health and Child Care and to Natpharm for quality assurance tests.
Mr Nyabadza added that at the moment the country was getting majority of its medications and other essential supplies from foreign donors and other partners but with continued partnership with local institutions, the country could move towards self sustenance.
“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.”
Meanwhile, NatPharm Board Chairman, Billy Rigava said they were 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 pas
“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. We are opening it up to the rest of the local manufacturing industry and the aim is to build local manufacturing capacity, reduce the export bill and also make sure that the medicine for the population is readily available,” said Mr Rigava.