THE Zambia Medicines Regulatory Authority (ZAMRA) says all drug stores in Zambia are operating illegally because they are not covered by pharmacists. I find that unsettling and absurd. Drug stores are an integral component of Zambiaâ€™s private sector that is complementing government efforts in providing medicines to our people in areas that government is not able to reach and service. The mere fact that drug stores are not able to afford or have access to pharmacists is not their fault. How many pharmacists does government churn out every year? How many pharmacists can one find in a place like Soft Katongo in kasama for example? And how many of our small drug stores can afford a pharmacist? When regulatory authorities are formulating regulations it is imperative that they take into consideration the prevailing socio-economic situation on the ground instead of coming up with draconian rules that tend to favour the rich and Zambians of Asian origin in our case. I personally find our ZAMRA regulations to be so prohibitive in almost all facets.
I also do not agree with the assertion that drug store owners are involved in illegal activities such as procuring of stolen medicines from government health institutions. These people are hardworking Zambians that buy stocks from reputable sources. Of course, we have a few exceptions.
Going forward, I propose that ZAMRA takes frantic steps in regularising operations of all drug stores by giving training to all drug store owners in the country.
JOHN NOEL LUNGU