Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema said here Wednesday that the government will seek to prioritize awarding of contracts for the supply of drugs to local firms.
This will help the growth of the local pharmaceutical industry and provide jobs for local people, he said at the start of the three-day Zambia-European Union (EU) Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Forum in Lusaka, the capital of Zambia.
“We know if we are importing 90 percent of what we need in the health sector, it means we are driving away jobs; it means that we are supplying jobs elsewhere; it means that we are sending away business,” he said.
The forum, held under the theme “Strengthening Healthcare through Local Manufacturing,” is being held alongside an exhibition and has brought together government, EU and Zambian sector partners to discuss opportunities for partnership and provide insights that could drive investment in Zambia’s pharmaceutical industry.
The president also urged local firms to prioritize quality and early delivery of products.
The government will work with pharmaceutical firms to identify and unlock rigidities hindering the growth of the sector, he said, adding one of the issues that needed to be tackled was corruption which was rampant in the sector.
However, he assured that the government was working tirelessly to rid the sector of all loopholes that promote corruption by ensuring that proper procurement procedures were put in place.
Jacek Jankowski, the EU Ambassador to Zambia, said the EU will strive to help Zambia with technology and equipment to boost local production of drugs.
He said a national thriving pharmaceutical industry would not only be a solution to the shortage of drugs and the assurance of functional health facilities, but would also be a powerful enabler for research, improving skills and job creation.
World Health Organization (WHO) Country Representative Nathan Bakyaita said the United Nations agency was supporting Zambia in revising the drugs policy in order to make it provide more supervision and promote the production of drugs locally.
He said creating a conducive environment for local pharmaceutical manufacturers will help address the shortage of medicines and increase the availability of essential drugs which was a positive step in achieving universal health coverage. Enditem