Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

Tanzania: Govt Under Fire Over Sh52 Billion Debt in Medicines

Dodoma — GOVERNMENT came under fire on Friday for failure to settle a debt of 52bn/- it owes the Medical Stores Department (MSD) thus hindering the smooth supply of medicine, medical reagents and equipment.

MSD procures medicine, medical reagents and equipment and then supplies them to public hospitals, health centres and dispensaries countrywide. Almost 80 per cent of the items are imported.

The Parliamentary Committee on Community Service schaired by Special Seats MP, Margaret Sitta (CCM) noted that government failed to settle the debt as of March, this year.

"Government must pay up to enable MSD perform its activities effectively," said Ms Sitta while tabling the committee's report for the period between April and December, this year.

Two parliamentary committees namely the Community Services and Community Development tabled their reports before the august House yesterday. Sitta's committee proposed that government restructures MSD's operations to enhance efficiency. "It is high time the Treasury released funds for the purchase of drugs and equipment to MSD at once," Ms Sitta urged.

The parliamentary committee was of a view that district councils countrywide should be directed as to when to present their requirements for drugs and equipment to MSD to enable it procure and imports on time.

Ms Sitta advised government to put in place a favourable investment climate to woo local industries to manufacture medicines and other requirements for the health sector. "Government should review its policy on industries for an enabling environment that will enable industries produce medicines locally," Ms Sitta, who once served as Minister of Education and Vocational Training, said.

In a related development, the parliamentary committee urged government to train locals in the maintenance of medical equipment. It came to light yesterday that various public medical institutions hire foreigners to maintain equipment.

The institutions include the Tanzania Foods and Drugs Authority (TFDA) and the Government Chemistry Agency. Others are National Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (MUHAS) and Muhimbili Orthopaedic (MOI), among others.

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