By Robert Tapfumaneyi
CABINET Tuesday approved the pharmaceutical manufacturing strategy which is expected to, among other things, test the efficacy of the much-talked-about Zumbani traditional herb for treating Covid-19.
This was announced by government ministers during the post-Cabinet press briefing.
“What we have done is to embrace what we call the triple model. What it means is a more concerted effort towards research and innovation,” Industry Minister Sekai Nzenza said.
“They will be a collaborative approach with the line ministries, stakeholders, as well as the private sector, and our main aim, is to achieve this through competitiveness, availability, and competitiveness of locally manufactured medicines.
“As part of the research and innovation, we will begin research of traditional medicines, and as you probably know with Covid-19, there has been a lot of talk about Zumbani,” she said.
“So Zumbani is one of the traditional herbal plants in Zimbabwe which already the Ministry of Higher Education is working on.”
Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa added the major challenge bedevilling the pharmaceutical sector was low production as a result of the use of antiquated equipment, cumbersome registration procedures, and limited innovation for new technology.
“The objectives of the (pharmaceutical manufacturing) strategy are to increase the market share of local pharmaceutical products from the current 12% to 35% by 2025,” she said.
“To increase local production of essential medicines from US$31.5 million to US$150 million by 2025, to increase local production of essential medicines from 30% to 60% by 2025; and to improve exports of pharmaceutical products from 10% to 25% by 2025.”
Mutsvangwa said in order for the pharmaceutical sector to increase production, government institutions and hospitals would be encouraged to procure pharmaceutical products from local manufacturers.
“Competitiveness of the local pharmaceutical industry will be achieved through such measures as the use of raw materials that are exempted from import duties as well as Value Added Tax deferment,” she said.
“NatPharm will increase its capacity to procure locally manufactured pharmaceutical products. Furthermore, the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe (MCAZ) will be capacitated to ensure faster registration of pharmaceutical products and to develop a programme on plant refurbishments, and upgrading and improvements in Quality Management Systems.”
“This will ensure that the local manufacturers comply with international pharmaceutical manufacturing quality standards and enhance competitiveness locally and internationally.
“Government, in collaboration with local industry, will also push for the elimination of non-tariff barriers in order to promote export development.”
The pharmaceutical manufacturing strategy is envisaged to facilitate the growth of the sector and guarantee affordable medicines.