SADC health ministers’ meeting set to dwell on Ebola, HIV/Aids

30Oct 2019
Henry Mwangonde
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
SADC health ministers’ meeting set to dwell on Ebola, HIV/Aids

THE meeting of health ministers from the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) member states which is slated for next week will focus on how to tame Ebola, HIV/Aids, malaria and tuberculosis.

Briefing journalists about the meeting in Dr es Salaam yesterday, the Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children Ummy Mwalimu said the agenda also includes how to improve nutrition within the bloc as well as strengthening health systems and medical supplies.

An Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo since August last year has killed more than 2000 people with some cases also reported in neoughbouring Uganda.

“We have numerous strategies that countries have put in place in the fight against HIV/AlDS, and therefore this meeting is vital for us to discuss and share ideas on the best practices," the minister said.

The meeting slated for Dar es Salaam will similarly highlight the importance of SADC countries to invest more budgetary resources in the health sector.

The meeting goes by the theme: 'SADC cooperation is a major pillar in the fight against HIV/Aids.'

Mwalimu said Tanzania has made tremendous achievements in the fight against HIV as the prevalence has decreased from 7percent in 2003 to 4.7percent currently.

Out of 30 countries that are doing better in the fight against TB, five are from SADC with Tanzania included.

On malaria, the minister said it is still a challenge in the SADC region but Tanzania has managed to reduce prevalence from 14 percent in 2015 to five percent in 2017.

In the SADC region Seychelles is the only country in SADC region which has managed to control malnutrition, obesity and overweight, while Tanzania has a rate of malnutrition that stands at 31percent, the minister noted.

After the meeting the SADC ministers will be taken for a tour of the Malaria Biological Pesticide Plant at Kibaha in Coast region to woo the countries to buy pesticides from Tanzania.

On Ebola, the minister said the meeting will map out how to tighten screening along border posts to ensure that any suspicious cases are monitored and referred.

Last year, SADC appointed (MSD) sole distributor of all essential drugs among 15 member states.

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

MSD has so far shown to have enough capacity to distribute drugs, medical equipment and chemical reagents in the zone, also providing a chance for local industrialists to tap into new markets.

One challenge is that pharmaceutical market information is not easily accessible in the SADC region, and a lack of standardization makes it difficult to compare the information that is available, experts assert.

This lack of transparency can result in higher transaction costs and creates opportunities for suppliers to diversify their prices to the disadvantage of purchasers.

Considerable differences exist between member states regarding pharmaceutical procurement and supply management (PSM) practices as well as application of regulations and procedures for quality assurance and public procurement.

Despite similarities in national medicines policies and public procurement legislation, SADC member states are at different levels of pharmaceutical sector development and pharmaceutical services delivery.

In some respects, a majority of countries comply with internationally accepted principles, but in others they do not.

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