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Zambia has enough medicines, assures State

VIOLET MENGO, KELVIN CHONGO, Lusaka
GOVERNMENT has reassured that Zambia has adequate stocks of medicines and has allayed fears of an imminent countrywide shortage of essential drugs as reported in the Post Newspaper.
Chief Government Spokesman Chishimba Kambwili and Deputy Minister of Health Chitalu Chilufya gave the reassurance yesterday at separate events.
Mr Kambwili, who is also Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services, told a press briefing at State House yesterday that the country has sufficient stocks of drugs and that supply is stable.
“I want to allay the fears that there is an impending shortage of drugs in our hospitals, let me make it very clear that as Government, we have enough drugs and there is absolutely no fear that there will be shortage of drugs,” Mr Kambwili said.
He also said that it has become a habit for the Post Newspaper to try and malign President Lungu and his administration.
He said the purported critical shortage of drugs as reported in the Post Newspaper “is neither here nor there”.
And Dr Chilufya said Government has put in place mechanisms to ensure uninterrupted and consistent supply of essential medicines including Anti-retrovirals (ARVs) to all parts of the country.
He said this during a tour of the Medical Stores Limited (MSL) warehouse in Lusaka yesterday to check on the availability of essential medicines.
“I would like to emphasise that there will be no shortage of drugs.  As part of Government strategic procurement planning, in 2014 we embarked on a programme in which we signed local framework contracts with local and international suppliers of medicine,” Dr Chilufya said.
“We have adequate stocks of ARVs to last for more than seven months and adequate stocks of essential medicines in the country,” he said.
Dr Chilufya said as part of the strategic plan, the Ministry of Health in 2014 procured ARVs worth K228 million and consignments have been arriving in batches.
“When it comes to health centre kits, we did procure 40,000 health kits in 2014. Three consignments have so far arrived in the country and we have one more that is due to arrive by December this year,” Dr Chilufya said.
He said Government has already bought 90,000 health kits for 2016 and 2017.
“This procurement is very advanced and nearly complete,  We expect no outages for 2016 and 2017,” Dr Chilufya said
He said Government is working very closely with cooperating partners who are participating in the buying of essential drugs.
He said the debt that accrues in the procurement of medicines is routinely resolved through the national budget mechanism with support of the Ministry of Finance.
MSL managing director Boniface Fundafunda said the objective of the autonomous agency is to ensure supplies of medicines and other health consumables.

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