MoH delivering cost effective drug chain, assures Professor Lackson Kasonka

MINISTRY of Health (MoH) Permanent Secretary-Technical Services Lackson Kasonka at Lusaka Apex University (LAMU)

MoH delivering cost effective drug chain, assures Professor Lackson Kasonka

By Henry Chunza, Saeed Simon Banda and Derrick Sinjela

Permanent Secretary Technical Services (PS-TS) in the Ministry of Health Professor Lackson Kasonka says Government is committed to the provision of sufficient funding for good quality essential medicines and medical supplies which are professionally, efficiently and cost effectively procured, stored and distributed as close to the family as possible.

Officiating at a Thursday 19th – Friday, 20th January, 2023 two-day National Supply Chain Review Meeting (NSCRM) hosted at Mulungushi International Conference Centre Kenneth Kaunda New Wing (MICC-KKNW) in Lusaka, aiming at appraising the 2022 supply chain performance and highlight focus areas for 2023 supply chain expectations, Prof. Lackson Kasonka said government has realigned procurement function of medicines and medical supplies from Ministry of Health to the Zambia Medicines and Medical Supplies Agency (ZAMMSA) in order to improve efficiency and responsiveness in the chain of procurement of medicines and medical supplies.

Other strategies the government have put in place includes the establishment of the Medicines and Medical Supplies Fund to support the procurement of medicines and medical supplies for public health facilities, Establishment of National Health Insurance Management Agency (NHIMA) whose purpose, among others, is to pay for the cost of insured healthcare services accessed by the registered members.

Prof. Kasonka added that the accredited public and private health facilities are getting reimbursements for medicines and medical supplies that are on the approved list to assure commodity security and government has increased the medicines and medical supplies budgetary allocation from Zambian Kwacha ZMW1.4 billion for 2021 to a record high ZMW4.6 billion in the 2023.

Kasonka reiterated a vow placing high premium on consistent disbursement of grants to Hospitals and Districts and subsequent increase of the emergency procurement threshold from four cent (4%) for Districts and 10% for Hospitals to thirty per cent (30%).

“These measures are expected to translate into improved availability of medicines and medical supplies in our facilities. Government will support improvements and strategies in distribution models for ZAMMSA to ensure availability and access of medicines and medical supplies in facilities and to achieve this, 7 regional hubs have been constructed in various provinces and three (3) more hubs are under construction in Lusaka, Northern and Central Provinces,” explained Prof. Kasonka.

The PS also said that government through the Zambia Medicines Regulatory Authority has expanded the national laboratory presence and is in the process of attaining World Health Organization (WHO) pre-qualification status in order to ensure quality provision of medicines and medical supplies.

“To improve resilience and efficiency of our supply chain, Zambia´s Government has identified the pharmaceutical industry as a priority as part of its post-pandemic approach to increasing health security and its endeavours to promote private sector driven socio-economic development and this effect, government has appointed the Zambia Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Steering Committee whose objective among others is to strengthen the local pharmaceutical manufacturing of medicines and medical supplies. So far, the Committee has set the Technical Working Group (TWG) which has been in meeting for over 4 months culminating into the launch of The Zambia Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Initiative (ZPMI) which was launched by the Minister responsible for Health on 20th October, 2022,” assured Prof. Kasonka

Prof. Kasonka also announced that on March 1-2 of 2023, the ZPMI will hold the Zambia – European Union Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Forum that will bring together representatives from EU and Zambian private sector parties to discuss opportunities for partnerships and provide insights that can help drive investment in Zambia’s pharmaceutical industry, to be graced by President Hakainde Hichilema and Health Minister, Ms. Sylvia Tembo-Masebo.

“To improve coordination amongst all players in the supply chain, the Ministry of Health has established the National Supply Chain Coordination Unit (NSCCU) – Control Tower which is expected to, among other functions, improve coordination of all supply chain partners, Prof. Kasonka added.

And Prof. Kasonka urged all stakeholders to participate fully and contribute to the improvement in the supply oversight by Ministry of Health on key supply chain functions such as ‘Quantification of Medicines’ and ‘Medical Supplies and Partners to strengthen MoH sustainability agenda in the supply chain, including curbing pilferage of medicines and medical supplies in public health facilities.

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