The National Pharmaceutical Company (NatPharm) will open retail pharmacies soon to ensure drugs are sold at affordable prices in flexible currency and not specifically the United States dollar, Health and Child Care Minister Dr Obadiah Moyo has said.
Speaking after touring the NatPharm warehouse in Harare yesterday to see first hand medicines and surgical sundries delivered this week, Dr Moyo bemoaned a tendency by pharmacies to sell drugs in US dollars after geting them from NatPharm in local currency.
"There are retailers who were buying the product from NatPharm and selling it in town in US dollars. We decided that we are going to open NatPharm retail pharmacies in town starting with Harare. We want to go countrywide with that aspect. We are making these things for the convenience of patients to be able to access medicines. In future, NatPharm will be a super brand throughout all the health institutions. Distributions will be directly into NatPharm pharmacies at health institutions throughout the country. NatPharm has already started preparations in Bulawayo and they found a site," he said.
Dr Moyo said the medicines received by NatPharm were bought using resources mobilised through the Health Fund while others were from partners.
"As has been indicated by my ministry and Government, we are going to be working on all the grievances as narrated by our workers," said Dr Moyo in reference to a two-week strike by doctors at public health institutions. "I am quite happy to see that we have stocks of medicines arriving here at NatPharm. There are stocks which are within the country. Some are yet to be delivered," he said.
"I have made a tour, and I have seen all the medical products available. I have emphasised that nothing should stay at NatPharm. Everything should go to health institutions. They have already started distribution. I have implored that they should invite pharmacists from central hospitals and provincial hospitals to come and collect products. It is going to be a rapid distribution of medicines."
NatPharm managing director Mrs Florah Sifeku said hospitals would be adequately stocked with medicines by Christmas.
"We have indicated that as soon as the stocks arrive they should be distributed to hospitals. I am happy that by Christmas we should have supplied all our hospitals, districts and clinics with medicines. The system for the ministry is very practical, and we are looking for surgeries and sundries. We received about 800 000 units of IV fluid this week. We do not want our suppliers to hold on to our stocks because we have not paid," she said.
Mrs Sifeku said central hospitals had been alerted about the availability of drugs and urged them to collect their needs.