LUSAKA, Oct. 20 (Xinhua) -- Zambia on Thursday launched an initiative aimed at providing a conducive environment for boosting the manufacturing of pharmaceutical products.
Launched under the theme "Strengthening Healthcare through local pharmaceutical manufacturing", the Zambia Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Initiative was meant to reduce the country's dependence on imported pharmaceutical products.
Sylvia Masebo, the Minister of Health, said during the launch that the main objective of the initiative was to create an enabling environment aimed at revamping the local pharmaceutical manufacturing industry.
According to her, it was unfortunate that despite bearing a disproportionate burden of disease, Africa imports between 70-90 percent of essential medical needs.
She said local pharmaceutical production represents between 10-15 percent of the demand for pharmaceutical products, resulting in the country importing the bulk of products.
"Virtually all active pharmaceutical ingredients and other inputs used in the local production of finished formulations are imported. Hence, many countries in the region have been particularly vulnerable to shocks in the global supply chain for medicines and medical supplies," she said.
The minister said the COVID-19 pandemic exposed Zambia's vulnerability in ensuring access to vital medicines and medical supplies, adding that the country, as well as other African countries, views the supply of safe, effective and affordable medicines and vaccines as a national security issue.
She said to boost pharmaceutical production, Zambia needs affordable finance, access to technology, and appropriate policies as well as the legal framework for firms to upgrade production to international quality standards.
Zambia, she said, also needs strengthened partnership mentorship programs to help the local pharmaceutical manufacturers to best prepare themselves for partnerships with international pharmaceutical firms, financial institutions, and development partners.
The minister further said a working group committee has since been established which was expected to come up with a roadmap as well as a strategy for enhancing the manufacturing of pharmaceutical products. ■