Harare — THE Southern African Development Community should consider pooling resources with a view to setting up a pharmaceutical company to produce antiretroviral drugs, a Mozambican parliamentarian has suggested.
Mr Ishmael Mussa, who is part of a five-member delegation from the Mozambican parliament, said such a regional company would go a long way in easing the current challenges linked to the production and procurement of the life-prolonging drugs.
The legislator made the recommendation yesterday during a meeting with Secretary for Health and Child Welfare Dr Edward Mabhiza and senior officials from the ministry.
The delegation, led by Mr Isau Joaquim Menese, is on a tour to Zimbabwe to familiarise themselves with parliamentary reform processes and intervention strategies in the fight against HIV/Aids.
The chairman of Zimbabwe's Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Welfare and Kwekwe legislator, Mr Blessing Chebundo (MDC), accompanied the delegation.
"Coming up with a regional pharmaceutical company would help us overcome these problems," said Mr Mussa.
The lawmaker was responding to remarks by Dr Mabhiza that although Zimbabwe had made significant inroads in the fight against HIV/Aids, the sanctions imposed on the country by Western countries were hampering these efforts.
He, however, said modalities were being worked out to come up with such a programme but this required political commitment by all the countries involved.
Mr Chebundo urged the Government to pursue the project, saying establishing a regional company would be one way of circumventing the sanctions.
"We need a regional approach and this would maximise resources. This collective arrangement would lead to regional sustenance of access to generic drugs," said Mr Chebundo.
Mr Menesi also came out in support of a regional pharmaceutical company, saying it was cost-effective.
"In Mozambique, we have concluded a study to advise us on the construction of company to produce not only ARVs but other drugs. We think joining hands as a regional bloc would certainly maximise benefits," he said.
National co-ordinator in the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare Dr Elizabeth Mbizvo explained to the delegation the various measures the Government was taking to mitigate the effects of HIV/Aids.
She said Zimbabwe had managed to reduce the HIV/Aids prevalence rate from a high of 35 percent in the 1990s to about 18 percent last year.