Essential drugs: Govt must have a plan to move away from donor dependence

Obadiah Moyo

MARONDERA — The country should have a clear transitional plan of moving away from relying heavily on donor funding when it comes to essential drugs after government reconfigured the economy from lower to upper middle class by 2030, the Zimbabwe National Network of People Living with HIV(ZNNP+) has said.

ZNNP+ projects coordinator Clarence Mademutsa said this during a stakeholders meeting held in Marondera last week.

World Bank rankings recently upgraded Zimbabwe to a lower-middle income economy, up from low income economy status.

He said as the country is transitioning from a low to an upper middle class economy, it is also required to transition from certain types of funding such as the Global Fund and President`s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief(PEPFAR).

“Zimbabwe is heavily reliant on donor funding and over 95% of medicines at the National Pharmaceutical Company (Natpharm) are procured by donors. As a country that is transitioning from a low income economy to middle class, we are also required to transition from certain types of funding such as the Global Fund and Pepfar,” said Mademutsa.

He said as it stands there is no indication of transitioning but continuous reliance on donor funding.

“What we continue to see is continuous reliance on donor funding. Actually there is an increase. A few years ago it was 75% in terms of medicines at Natpharm now it’s at 95%.The trend seems to continuing upwards than downwards.

“There is need for a clear plan on how we are going to transition out of donor funding in terms of supporting our health system,” said Mademutsa.

The ZNPP+ official added that there is need for government to show increased commitment to providing funding for the country`s health delivery system, particularly procurement of essential drugs like Anti-Retroviral (ART) drugs.

He said the country should also transition in terms of capacity to be able to produce its own drugs.

“We should have a clear plan on how the country should be able to produce its own drugs.

“We have done that before in 2003, we started the process with Varichem and Caps Holdings. We can still do the same especially this time we are facing foreign currency shortages, it is important to produce and export,” said Mademutsa.

Mademutsa said the country should invest heavily in health and the national budget should show the transition.

“We should invest in research and development and retooling of national institutions because we cannot continue importing. If we don’t have a clear plan, we run the risk of losing in terms of gains we have made around HIV/AIDS response.

“We have over 1, 2 million on ART according the National Aids Council (NAC), all being supported by donors with government chipping in with 25%. If we fail to plan as a country this means 7-8 people on ART are on the risk of not receiving their dosage and that’s a recipe for disaster,” said Mademutsa.

As part of his vision to transform the country, President Emmerson Mnangagwa promised to turn the country into an upper middle class society by 2030. – Newzimbabwe