By NATION REPORTER
LOCAL Pharmaceutical manufacturing fear they may have to close shop with government’s decision to award a US$120 million tender to an Egyptian company for the supply and delivery of all essential medicines and other medical supplies, the Association of Citizens Owned Pharmaceutical Companies (ACOPC) has complained.
Gallan Sichilima, the president of the Association of Citizens Owned Pharmaceutical Companies says the procurement of all essential medicines and other medical supplies from Egypt was likely to cause economic turmoil on the local pharmaceutical industry with a resultant consequence of closure for many companies.
Mr Sichilima has challenged the Zambia Medicines, Medical Supplies Agency (ZAMMSA) to be transparent and disclose the sum total of the tender that is seeking to single-source Unified Procurement Authority of Egypt for the supply and delivery of essential medicines and other medical supplies.
He said it was confusing and ironical that while President Hakainde Hichilema had been preaching of supporting and promoting local pharmaceutical manufacturers, some government official were frustrating the growth of the local industry by pulling in the opposite direction of that of the head of State.
He said ZAMMSA should clearly state whether the procurement of medicines from Egypt was a one-off purchase or was to become the norm, fearing that local pharmaceutical companies were at the risk of shutting down as a result.
“If government has decided to single source a foreign company to supply and deliver all essential medicines and other medial supplies, then we should stop talking about the local pharmaceutical manufacturing companies. They are killing the local manufacturers and we should stop talking about job creation in this country.”
“It is confusing that President Hichilema is talking about promoting and growing the local pharmaceutical manufacturing companies yet we haver government officials who are frustrating the growth of the sector the head of State is promoting. The decision by ZAMMSA to proceed to procure medicines from Egypt is going to have long-term economic ramifications. It will certainly cause economic turmoil not only in the pharmaceutical industry but will have a general negative effect on the growth of the economy,” Mr Sichilima said.
He noted that the 8TH National Development Plan (8NDP) was clear about the desire and ambition to grow the pharmaceutical industry in Zambia as the country’s budget on health had increased exponentially.
Mr Sichilima recalled that Zambia recently hosted the Zambia/European Union pharmaceutical manufacturing initiative launch at which emphasis was on the promotion of the growth of the pharmaceutical industry.
He said government should have considered looking at what medicines were being manufactured local before deciding to engage the Egyptian company for the bulk supply and delivery of the drugs.
“What is it that has precipitated the single-sourcing of an Egyptian company to bulk supply of the medicines. There are medicines and other medical supplies that are local manufactured and government should have considered our local companies. The shortage of medicines has been caused by the mismanagement of the supply chain built over the years and respected across the world. We can only blame it on incompetence of those in government,” Mr Sichilima said.