Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda has today officially opened the Zimbabwe Parliamentary Pharmaceutical Caucus (PPC) to facilitate the enactment of statutes, regulations and policies that are favourable to the country’s pharmaceutical sector and boost its contributions towards national development.
Participants to the caucus led by the interim chairperson; Legislature Mathius Tongofa include sitting members of parliament, who are keen on pharmaceutical issues; an advisory team consisting of all former presidents of the Pharmaceutical Society of Zimbabwe and the Secretariat composed of the Centre of Excellence for Pharmaceutical Innovation, DoPPS and the Faculty of Law at the University of Zimbabwe.
Mudenda, speaking during the launch, reiterated the continuity of PPC and said the caucus must not die a natural death.
“We don’t want to sow something that will die,” he said.
“It is my hope that this seed (PPC) will have the required elements so that it grows and produce visible fruits.”
Tongofa, who also claims to be the first elected Member of Parliament from the pharmaceutical profession, revealed that the PPC will advocate for equal access to medication.
The Member of Parliament said that medicines should be for free or at least affordable to anyone who needs the drugs.
He went on to say that there are diseases that are African, which have no cure because they lack research for the required medicines
Nearly 2 billion people globally have no access to essential medicines and at least half of the world’s population cannot obtain essential health services, according to a report from the World Bank and WHO.
The University of Zimbabwe, Department of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Professor, Charles Chiedza Maponga said that the PPC will ensure that there will be no less than 80% availability of essential medicines in all public sector pharmacies in Zimbabwe.
The Professor also said the caucus is to ensure that 80% of medical products listed in the essential drugs list for Zimbabwe are manufactured locally.
PPC is to ensure that at least 60% of the raw materials for locally manufactured medicines originate from within the country according to the Professor. The importation of medicines into Zimbabwe has resulted in the country losing foreign currency and made drugs expensive for poor people.
Another role for the PPC is to set up mechanisms that ensure price transparency and low transaction costs among all actors within the pharmaceutical sector according to Maponga.
A representative from the business sector Mr Ngwenya said PPC will allow drug distributers to influence policymakers on policies that regulate pharmacies.
Over 90% of medicines used in public health institutions are procured through donors.