Ministry of Health Reads Riot Act To Pharmacies Dispensing Antibiotics Without Prescriptions

To curb to the proliferation of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) related infections, the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC) has warned pharmacies to stop the selling or dispensing antibiotics to patients without prescriptions.

By Michael Gwarisa

This follows scientific data which affirms that Antibiotic dispensing without prescriptions is a major determinant of the emergence of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) which has impact on population health and cost of healthcare delivery.

Speaking at the Inaugural Joint Community Pharmacies Association (CPA) and Pharmaceutical Wholesalers Association (PWA) Joint Conference in Harare, Health and Child Care Deputy Minister, Dr Dr Mangwiro said government was already drafting a policy to regulate irrational dispensing of Antibiotics.

Let me remind you that you have a critical role to play in combating Antimicrobial Resistance to preserve the ammunition we have in fighting infection. We continue to hear of the use of antibiotics irrationally and unabated issuing of antibiotics without prescriptions,” said Dr Mangwiro.

He emphasized on the need for community pharmacies to be professional and ensure AMR is nipped in the bud.

“A professional should be able to guard against unwarranted use and dispensing of Antibiotics without prescription. Professionalism must be restored. If we don’t do that, we will be exposing patients to harm. The Ministry will soon be embarking on an Antimicrobial policy that will promote and streamline access to the use of antibiotics. I urge you to remain professional in the discharge of your roles and responsibilities as we endeavor to attain an upper middle income status by 2030.”

He also called on pharmacies play an active role in the surveillance of diseases outbreaks.

While Pharmacies have been accused of malpractice, the operating environment according to players in the industry at times forces them to go an extra mile in search of the elusive greenback.

Pharmacy players who attended the inaugural conference concurred that that the playing field for the pharmaceutical industry was not even and there is need for dialogue between pharmacists and regulators.

Mr George Nyamayaro, the Chairperson of the Community Pharmacies Association said there is over regulation of the pharmacy sector.

“I think so much has been said about regulation. Most pharmacies are saying the process of registering a new pharmacy is very cumbersome and some of the roles of the regulators are overlapping. The fees that are being charged by regulators are very high and the turnaround time for registering new dossiers is counterproductive,” said Mr Nyamayaro.

He also bemoaned the double dipping by health funders or medical aid players which is impacting operations of pharmacies.

“The issue of healthcare funders now being caregivers is a challenge. They are now service providers and funders are being “accused” of them not remitting claim funds in time given that we have got volatility in exchange rates.”

The Pharmaceutical market’s worth in Zimbabwe is estimated at US$245 Million, with imports accounting for 88 percent and 12 percent drugs are consumed from local manufacturers.

Mr Dumisani Danda, the Chairperson, Pharmaceutical Wholesalers Association (PWA) said the cost of importing drugs another major albatross to the operations of pharmacies in Zimbabwe.

“As PWA, we have a recommendation to the authority, for example with the Medicine Control Authority of Zimbabwe (MCAZ), verification fee is 1 percent of the total invoice cost. From Last year it was 0.05 percent. We would like to ask the MCAZ if you can review that from 1 percent back to 0.05 percent,” said Mr Danda.

He also called on government to exempt all medicines from paying duty as well as for MCAZ to increase their workforce so as to clear the dossiers backlog.


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