The Government plans to start manufacturing medicines and medical sundries locally with a plant set to be established in Victoria Falls in a joint venture with an international pharmaceutical company, Intra Pharma of Dubai.
This comes as the Second Republic continues to prioritise local production of pharmaceuticals and health products to reduce the huge import bill.
The Second Republic has embarked on a process of constructing, refurbishing and retooling of hospitals across all levels through the National Facility Construction Programme that is wholly funded by Government.
There are also plans to establish a joint venture vaccine manufacturing plant in Zimbabwe with Bio Farma an Indonesian Pharmaceutical company as well as build five district hospitals and thirty mini hospitals across the country, Vice President General (Retired) Dr Constantino Chiwenga said yesterday.
He was officiating at the Board Induction and Corporate Governance Training Programme for the Ministry of Health and Child Care Public Entities as well as professional Associations in Victoria Falls.
The VP said Government wants to accelerate the attainment of Sustainable Development Goals, the African Agenda 2063, and ensure universal health coverage.
Using local resources, Government has thus increased financing of the health sector with 22 percent of the national budget dedicated to health last year, surpassing the Abuja Declaration which stipulates that 15 percent must be budgeted for health.
The health financing is a major milestone by President Mnangagwa’s led Government.
Government aspires to realise improved health outcomes for all including the vulnerable and marginalised, guided by the overall Vision 2030 that seeks to transform Zimbabwe into a Middle Income Society by 2030, and the National Development Strategy (NDS1) (2021-2025) which identifies health as central to human happiness and well-being making it an important contributor to economic progress.
VP Chiwenga who is also Health and Child Care Minister said guided by NDS1 and in consultation with development partners and the private sector, Government identified priority outcomes to address health challenges.
He said major reforms are being instituted within the Health Ministry to ensure efficiency, effectiveness, transparency and integrity of health service.
Chief among the strategies is construction of health facilities countrywide to improve access to health care and availability of essential medicines and commodities.
“Government continues to prioritise local production of pharmaceuticals and other health products to reduce the huge import bill for these products. Government has entered into a joint venture with Intra Pharma to manufacture pharmaceutical products for both local and regional market. The company will be based in Victoria Falls,” said Dr Chiwenga.
He said Victoria Falls is a perfect site as the city was declared a Special Economic Zone.
Government is also planning to make Victoria Falls its conference capital with state-of-the-art facilities including a convention centre, five star hotels and medical facilities which can also drive medical tourism.
There has been interest from investors from the United Arab Emirates to partner Government on Victoria Falls projects.
On the tourism front, massive projects are underway with five star hotels being constructed.
To complete the value chain, Lupane State University plans to build a tourism school in the resort city with civil works already done, while massive housing projects are also underway in a Government partnership- with private sector.
This feeds into operationalisation of Masue City concept, which is part of Victoria Falls expansion, through the Integrated Development Programme/Conceptual Development Framework that incorporates the Victoria Falls-Hwange-Binga SEZ as an integration of economic activities to catapult growth and improve livelihoods in the province.
On the health front, massive work is underway to construct hospital facilities countrywide.
Phase 1 of Lupane Provincial Hospital in Matabeleland North which had stalled for 17 years is now 70 percent complete and its completion is a priority in line with the National Development Strategy 1 and will bring relief to Matabeleland North province which has been relying on Bulawayo hospitals and mission hospitals, said Dr Chiwenga.
About 1 117 health facilities have been solarised, 447 now with boreholes, and 75 PCR testing equipment decentralised to districts, said Dr Chiwenga.
He said Government is also making concerted efforts to turnaround the National Pharmaceutical Company of Zimbabwe (Natpharm) to into me the preferred supplier of medicines and sundries required in the country’s health sector.
As a way of improving distribution of essential medicines and commodities, Government completed construction of Natpharm warehouses on Harare and Masvingo while work is underway in Mutare.
The Ministry has started applying for land to construct warehouses in other provinces, said Dr Chiwenga.
He said plans are there to establish innovation hubs for health research, bioengineering, bio-pharmaceutical and bio-medical sciences in the country.
“Additionally, plans are in place to establish a joint venture vaccine manufacturing plant in Zimbabwe with Bio Farma an Indonesian Pharmaceutical company.
“Government is working on improving the management and governance of Natpharm which should be the preferred supplier of medicines and sundries required to service the entire health sector. Government is aware of challenges and addressing them and management should fix internal governance hiccups,” said Dr Chiwenga, adding that there is urgent need to put in place robust systems to curb pilferage and unnecessary loss of medicines and sundries in all health sector institutions
“We can’t have bulk medicines expiring on us. Let this be a thing of the past,” he said.
Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Richard Moyo said establishment of strong institutions, specialised, well equipped health care facilities that draw from both internal and external expertise will contribute towards the economic revival of Matabeleland North province.
The induction and training workshop is for all parastatals and professional associations falling under the Ministry of Health and will end of Friday with the aim of improving good corporate governance and performance of parastatals and all professional councils.