Ball in investors’ court as govt moves to end drug shortages

18Jul 2019
Henry Mwangonde
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
Ball in investors’ court as govt moves to end drug shortages

TANZANIA needs an estimated 1.189trn/- ($517 million) investments in the pharmaceutical industry to fill the drug shortage gap and export to neighbouring countries, it was revealed yesterday.

The Commissioner for Public-Private Partnership (PPP) in the Ministry of Finance and Planning, Dr John Mboya said the amount will be spent on building, operating and maintaining such industries.

Speaking at the International Pharmaceutical Investors Conference in Dar es Salaam, Dr Mboya said the PPP concept in the pharmaceutical industry has been designed to improve investment in the sector. It is in the feasibility study stage under a team led by Treasury Permanent Secretary Dotto James.

“This is a huge amount so we need more investors both local and foreign. That is why we have introduced PPP so that we encourage local investors to participate fully,” he stated.

It is estimated that around 269bn/- is spent every year to buy medicine abroad as 85-percent of  hospital drugs are procured from outside.

Trade and Industry Minister Innocent Bashungwa said the government was ready to offer support to investors who will be ready to invest in the pharmaceutical industry.

“The blueprint document has deleted some taxes that were a nuisance to investors,” he asserted, noting further that the strategy is being implemented to make Tanzania a suitable and competitive investment area.

The conference is hosted by the Medical Stores Department (MSD) and brought together local and foreign investors from various countries.

MSD Director General Laurean Rugambwa said an analysis is being conducted on how PPP can be implemented in the pharmaceutical industry, specifying that the areas which are being examined are publicized, with information issued to investors on potential PPP project areas.

“By this year we expect to finish building three industries,” he said, citing the fact that there is a wide local market and opportunities in regional trade blocks.

MSD PPP project manager Fredrick Pondamali said there are challenges that MSD faces currently in supplying drugs, including reaching out to remote areas due to lack of infrastructure. “It takes too long to finish one procurement circle due to government procurement processes,” he declared.

Last year, the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) appointed MSD as sole distributor of essential drugs for 15 member states.

This was good news for Tanzanian industrialists to start improving their quality of products so as to meet international standards.

MSD affirms that it has enough capacity to distribute drugs, medical equipment and chemical reagents to those countries, “but it is a chance for Tanzanian to tap into this opportunity.”

Availability of essential drugs to dispensaries, health centres and hospitals has increased from 36 percent in 2016 to just over 80 percent, this year, the manager added.

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