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Liberalise drug distribution, govt told

25th April 2012
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The government has been urged to authorise private companies to supply drugs to hospitals and health centres in a move to end the prevailing shortage of medicines, particularly in rural areas, and save the wastage of money that occur due to drug expiry.

Speaking in Dar es Salaam recently, health stakeholder Humphrey Kizito, said leaving the distribution work to a single company is not sound for the development of health services.

He said the government has been incurring millions of shillings in loss caused by late delivery of expired drugs to the end users. Recent reports said drugs worth billions of shillings got spoilled due to various reasons before they reached the users.

He said Tanzania is so massive and with a poor infrastructure hence detering smooth distribution of drugs, among other things.

Kizito said at the moment, there are a significant number of private firms with enough capital to run the medicine supply business. “Let us borrow a leaf from beverage companies, which have many suppliers and their products are available even in the most remote areas of the country and at affordable prices,” he said.

This is not the first time the government is asked to liberalise drug distribution. Late last year World Lung Foundation (WLF), an international NGO proposed that the government should look into how the distribution methods of drugs can be changed.

The NGO proposed that the method be based on workload and not on fixed allocation so as to end the deficit of drugs in areas with high demands.

According to WLF project director Dr Staffan Bergström, the new method would render more remote hospitals and health centres to have enough drugs all the time.

“While drugs are expiring in the Medical Stores Department (MSD), many health facilities in rural areas go without medicines for too long.

“We need to change the method of distributing drugs so that areas with high demand will not go without them,” said Dr Bergström, adding that over the past two months there has been a shortage of gloves in the country, putting pregnant mothers at risk.

He urged the government to provide more resources to upgrade health facilities that attend to many patients as they encounter more challenges than the rest.

In a move aimed at delivering drugs quickly, the government has been taking various measures include supplying medicines directly to health centers.

According to the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare direct delivery of supplies and drugs to Public Health Centres (PHC) has started in Tanga, Shinyanga, Dar es Salaam and Coast regions.

“Other six regions of Dodoma, Kigoma, Ruvuma, Rukwa, Lindi and Manyara are to follow suit,” it said.

SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN
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