Editor's Comment

Take advantage of milestone

YASH Life Science executive director Himanshu Patel (right) explaining to acting President Inonge Wina (left) and Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services Dora Siliya during a tour of the state-of-the-art Yash Life Science Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Plant in Kafue. PICTURE: COLLINS PHIRI

ZAMBIA has continued scoring milestones in the medical arena with significant investments in improving the availability of health infrastructure and medicine.
One such investment was unveiled yesterday when Vice-President Inonge Wina launched the US$21 million pharmaceutical plant in Kafue’s Shimabala.
The pharmaceutical plant will be manufacturing drugs for diabetes and hypertension, two of the country’s prevalent non-communicable diseases.
The launch of the plant will guarantee the availability of adequate stocks of life-saving medicines for the two twin deadly diseases.
The diabetes and hypertension drugs will not only be easily accessible because they will be manufactured locally but should also be affordable, helping the patients make some savings.
Currently, about 23 percent of all deaths in Zambia are due to non-communicable diseases, most of which are preventable.
Diabetes and hypertension top the list of non-communicable diseases in Zambia.
During the launch of the 2019 national health week under the theme: ‘Promoting health and well-being towards universal health coverage: my responsibility’ at the Olympic Youth Development Centre in Lusaka, President Edgar Lungu noted that in most cases, non-communicable diseases affect the productive age group of Zambia’s society, causing premature deaths and disability.
The launch of the pharmaceutical plant could not have come at a better time than this when the country is challenged by high incidences of diabetes and hypertension.
The company has brought many benefits, including reducing the lead time that it takes when an order is done to the time when the patient or pharmacy stores receive the drugs.
Even in time of emergencies, it will be much easier now.
The other spin-off benefits include the creation of about 1,500 jobs, which is a plus to our economy as it will contribute to the gross domestic product. It will also build the training and practice of pharmacy in Zambia.
The plant has potential of being a regional hub for the production of the diabetes and hypertension drugs.
It can tap into the yawning market in the Southern African Development and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa blocs to earn the much needed foreign exchange for the country.
Zambia is already benefitting from some medical facilities such as the Cancer Diseases Hospital in Lusaka, which is attracting patients from the region, thus promoting medical tourism.
The school of medicine at Ridgeway Campus and some private universities are also attracting students from SADC and beyond who come for practical experience.
The pharmaceutical plant will also be playing a similar role in the SADC and COMESA regions as pharmacy students will be trooping to Kafue to learn.
Members of the surrounding communities should take advantage of the plant by putting in place attendant infrastructure for visitors.
Much as the coming of the pharmaceutical plant is welcome, citizens should always remember the underlying causes of non-communicable diseases.
These include tobacco use, poor diet, physical inactivity, harmful use of alcohol and other psychoactive substances.
In President Lungu’s words, these factors call for contemporary approaches to avert further deaths.
Citizens should take up the responsibility of keeping healthy, and preventing disease as the ripple effects to be accrued at individual, family and community level is mammoth.
People should not abandon physical activity such as jogging, eating healthy foods, cutting down on excessive alcohol consumption, eating less salt and sugar and red meats. Zambians should aspire to live healthy lifestyles by reducing the risk of suffering from diabetes and hypertension.

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