Local pharmaceutical plants to make medicine

EVEN foreign based companies are planning to build new pharmaceutical plants in the country in a move to reduce the costs and easy availability of drugs in local health providing units.

The government was forced to review its baseline list of essential drugs of 85 to 135 items, pushing up the number to 90 items yet some health providing units still faced crisis of some drugs while other areas posses sleeping stock.

Health Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children Minister Ms Ummy Mwalimu said the government resolved to review the list and now issued to key stakeholders for further review.

However, she said some seven foreign investors have confirmed their interest to compliment President John Magufuli’s effort to transform the country into an industrial powered economy. “It’s too bad that we have to import everything.

We want to start producing drugs within the country ... we will start with three major drugs, pain killers and antibiotics,” she said. “Our capacity is very limited. It’s not good ... the good news is seven investors are ready to support,” she said when delivering her key note speech during the ongoing 48th Medical Association of Tanzania (MAT) National Health Conference held in Dar es Salaam.

Without giving specific details including names of investors, location of the plants and the sum of investment, the minister noted that the government is seeking to revolutionaries the health sector. She noted that among other key areas, the government is also planning to upgrade health centers to offer antenatal care.

“We want to improve our health facilities,” she said adding to start the health budget had increased to 9 percent from 6 percent of the total national budget. Observers said the budget was still too far beyond the Abuja declaration that suggested African governments should increase health budget to at least 15 percent of their national budget.

Tanzania Diabetes Association and Non Communicable Diseases Alliance Secretary General Professor Andrew Swai said the budget gap in the health sector was 2.1 trn/- about 52 percent.

He said even after the government meets the Abuja declaration of 15 percent, the budget will not be enough to finance health service urging the government to fast truck enactment of the national health insurance law.

The law mentioned in the parliament yesterday and it is set for the second and third hearing later next year. The health expert said Tanzania was facing a number of unfinished businesses in health sector with increasing rate of communicable and non-communicable diseases projected to soar.

About 9 percent of Tanzania population have diabetes, hypertension (27 percent), cancer (25 percent) and overweight (34 percent). Outgoing MAT president Dr Billy Haonga urged the government, however, to allow medical graduates to be registered as private health providers similar to lawyers and engineers profession.

He defended that the program would help the unemployed professionals help in health care service provision area and respond to the crisis across the country.

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