Africa-Press – Zambia. HEAVY reliance on importation of pharmaceutical products has resulted in the government accumulating debt owed to players in the pharmaceutical sector for the provision of various goods and services amounting to over K3 billion.
The Parliamentary report of the Committee on health, community development and social services has revealed that continuous dependence on imported pharmaceutical products mainly from India and South Africa has been attributed to the low capacity of the local manufacturing companies to satisfy demand for pharmaceuticals.
The report said the importation of pharmaceutical products had also resulted in the government accumulating debt owed to players in the pharmaceutical sector for the provision of various goods and services.
It revealed that this costly undertaking has resulted in the government accumulating debt of about K3 billion as of January 31, 2020, owed to players in the pharmaceutical sector for the provision of various goods and services.
The resultant effect of this debt was the shortage of medicines and medical supplies in most public health facilities which had impacted the patients negatively as they bore the cost of accessing medicines and medical supplies from private pharmacies.
Increased demand for imported pharmaceutical products was attributed to the high disease burden mainly characterised by the high prevalence of communicable and non- ommunicable diseases, an increase in population and a growing middle class with increased purchasing power, the report said.
The report also highlighted constraints limiting the growth of the local pharmaceutical manufacturing industry. These include an inadequate National Health Policy and the National Drug Policy to provide for all the necessary pre requisites for the local pharmaceutical industry.
High costs associated with establishing pharmaceutical manufacturing companies and this prohibited the local pharmaceuticals manufacturing industry from participating in the supply chain.
Zambia, like several other developing African countries was unable to produce most medicines required to supply to its population and was heavily depended on imports for medical supplies, the report said.