US-based Business Monitor International (BMI) predicts the value of Zimbabwe’s pharmaceutical market will remain depressed for the next 10 years, on grounds the economy is unlikely to encourage medicine and healthcare spending unless the international community writes off its debts.
According to the market research firm, this will occur despite official forecasts of double-digit growth.
The value of Zimbabwe’s pharmaceutical market is seen rising modestly to $61 million by 2014 from $41 million last year, representing a compound annual growth rate of 8,1%, and to $116 million over the long-haul to 2019.
In its Business Environment Ratings (BERs) for the fourth quarter of the year, BMI put Zimbabwe in the last position among the countries surveyed in 19 key markets in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region.
Globally, BMI has ranked the country 82 out of 83, ahead only of Nicaragua.
“Though some of its economic indicators are somewhat improved, the country is unlikely to push up the regional rankings, in the medium term at least,” BMI said in the Zimbabwe Pharmaceuticals and Healthcare Report for Q4 2010.
“Our pessimistic view is based on a combination of unfavourable political, regulatory and other factors, including the negligible per-capita expenditure on pharmaceuticals, the crumbling public healthcare system and the prevalence of counterfeiting.”
BMI surveyed Zimbabwe’s leading pharmaceutical companies, namely CAPS Holdings and MedTech Holdings.
The report observed that economic hardships in the country were prevalent and tended to stifle spending on antenatal check-ups and delivery for expectant mothers, stoking its maternal mortality rate.
“Expectant mothers are required to pay the equivalent of US$50 for monthly antenatal check-ups and delivery, which is out of reach for the vast majority of the population. In the meantime, a newly-published Zimbabwe Maternal and Perinatal Mortality Study shows a maternal mortality rate of 725 deaths per 100 000 live births.”
The report for the preceding quarter claims that Zimbabwe has registered limited progress in dealing with counterfeiting, despite efforts to seize substandard medicines, because of a weak legal framework that tends to prolong the for authorities to grant permission to destroy consignments and prosecute offenders.
“With no real deterrent in place, and an increasing demand for medicine from the population, addressing counterfeit drugs in Zimbabwe will be difficult, despite international collaboration with international agencies.
Antimalarials, steroids, antibiotics and erectile dysfunction (ED) medicines comprise the bulk of the counterfeit medicines,” the report says.
According to BMI, the country is unlikely to meet its target to increase state-aided antiretroviral therapy to 250 000 patients by end of 2010 and to 350 000 patients by 2012 owing to persistent fiscal vulnerabilities, which undermine drug procurement.