Pharmacists Welcome New Health Professions Act Amendment

ZIMBABWE’S Pharmaceutical industry says the new amendments to the Health Professions Act will set the tone for both local and foreign direct investment into the local pharmaceutical industry.

By Michael Gwarisa

Cabinet recently announced that they had considered and approved the Principles for the Amendment of 124 of the Health Professions Act [Chapter 27:19], which were presented by the Vice President and Minister of Health and Child Care, Honourable Constantino Chiwenga.

The amendment will repeal the entire section 124 (2) (a) of the Health Professions Act with a view to opening up and encouraging investment in the pharmaceuticals industry. Safeguards against practice by unregistered pharmacists are adequately provided for by section 124 sub-section 1 of the Act, to which practitioners and ventures in the industry must adhere to.

In an interview with HealthTimes, Pharmaceutical Society of Zimbabwe (PSZ) president, Mr Portiphar Mwendera said consultations on amendments to the Health Professions Act have been ongoing as there are a number of areas that needed to be amended.

The pharmaceutical sector and indeed all the other health professions have been in consultations on the provisions that were felt needed to be amended. The matter of investment in the pharmaceutical sector was topical and submissions were made on this area,” said Mr Mwendera.  

He added however that they were not privy to how the final amendment on the area will be though some practitioners did not think that the provision was restrictive though interpretation of the provisions of section 124 (2) differed to the extent of limiting the needed investment in the sector particularly the manufacturing sector.

“The fraternity would be grateful if the provisions of the Act as amended will address the hesitancy that investors had around investing in the pharmaceutical sector and is waiting to also get acquainted with the proposed amendments plus to also see the rest of the Act’s other provisions being addressed too.”

Meanwhile, Mr Luckmore Bunu, the Retail Pharmacists Association of Zimbabwe (RPA) Secretary General said the proposed amendments were a welcome development to the pharmaceutical sector.

“As highlighted in the Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Strategy 2021-2025 that was launched by the Honorable Retired General Constantino Dominic Guvheya Nyikadzino Chiwenga who is the Vice President of the Republic and the Minister of Health, the pharmaceutical sector in Zimbabwe is in dire need of capitalization.

“By opening up the sector to more capital including listing on the capital markets like the Victoria Falls Stock Exchange, there is potential for remarkable improvement in quality of service in the sector as well as the manufacturing capacity of pharmaceuticals as more capital will start flowing into the sector,” said Mr Bunu.

He however said there was need for the pharmaceutical regulators to be given legislative powers to regulate the non-pharmacist directors so that they remain professional and ethical.

“Thus, as a professional association we are calling on the Minister to consider incorporating principles in the amendments that will allow for the Pharmacists Council of Zimbabwe (PCZ) and the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe (MCAZ) to have legislative powers to regulate anyone who will be owning a pharmacy business include the non-pharmacist owners.

“Further, we call upon those with access to capital to invest in the Pharmaceutical Manufacturing sector so as increase the local sectors’ capacity from the current 12% of essential drugs needs to at least 90% within the next five years. We believe that together, the profession and those with access to capital, we can make the National Development Strategy 1 as success in as far as pharmaceutical value chains are concerned.”

He added that they hoped the changes would translate to more capital investment in the sector together with more professional and ethical practice amongst the players.

“Lastly, more investment in the sector will translate to increased competition which will improve competitiveness in the sector. This can be felt by a reduction in cost of medicines to the public and an improvement in the quality of service rendered to the public,” said Mr Bunu.

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