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State to commission drug hubs

GOVERNMENT will this year commission three more medical hubs on the Copperbelt, Luapula and Muchinga provinces to eliminate drug stock-outs in public health institutions.
Minister of Health Joseph Kasonde said at the launch of the Western Province Medical Stores Limited (MSL) regional hub here yesterday that Government also plans to commission six minor hubs or staging posts apart from the three regional centres by the end of next year.
Dr Kasonde said in a speech read for him by his deputy, Chitalu Chilufya, that the three centres to be based in Luanshya, Mansa and Mpika districts will help Government achieve its aim of access to medicines for all.
The launch of the Mongu MSL region hub brings to three centres in the country after the Southern and Eastern provinces centres.
“Our plan as Government is to eliminate stock-outs in public health institutions and ensure full access to all essential medicines for all the people. Our aim is to achieve access to medicines for all,” he said.
The minister said the Luanshya hub will service the Copperbelt and North-Western regions, the Mansa centre will cater for Luapula and parts of the Northern regions and the Mpika centre will serve the Northern region.
Dr Kasonde said to eliminate drug stock-outs, Government has increased budgetary allocation for essential medicines and medical supplies from about K142.7 million in 2011 to K742 million this year.
He said Government’s concern has been that the delivery of medicines and medical supplies to the health facilities has been a challenge to the health sector despite massive investments annually.
The minister said a new model of distributing essential medicines and medical supplies has been conceived and adopted to dismantle the restriction of how MSL used to deliver and supply drugs to the district medical offices.
Dr Kasonde said the model allows orders for each and every health centre to be centrally processed at MSL and transported to the hub in bulk utilising trucks ranging from seven to 20 tonnes in size.
“The key purpose of this new distribution model is to improve the supply and delivery of essential medicines and medical supplies to all health facilities,” he said.
MSL managing director Boniface Fundafunda said the Western Province hub is under a leased warehouse and the institution envisions building its own structure that will be purpose-designed for a pharmaceutical store.
Dr Fundafunda appealed to the Mongu Municipal Council to help MSL with land where the regional hub can be built.
Western Province medical officer Andrew Silumesi said the MSL Mongu regional hub will improve the distribution of drugs and medical supplies in the region.
Swedish ambassador to Zambia Lena Nordstrom said her Government and Zambia have enjoyed co-operation in the health sector for about 40 years and the co-operation would continue.
She said over K400 million has been set aside to support mother and child health.
Western Province permanent secretary Mwangala Liomba said the MSL regional hub will service Mongu, Limulunga, Luampa, Kaoma, Nkeyema, Kalabo and Sikongo but not Mitete, Nalolo, Lukulu and Senanga.
And Barotse Royal Establishment representative Mwangelwa Silumbu, who is also Induna Imandi, thanked Government for putting up a third medical hub in Western Province, saying it will boost the distribution of essential medicines.