‘Ministry runs down Natpharm’

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The Health and Child Welfare ministry has reportedly consumed $3, 65 million worth of drugs from government medical stores, Natpharm, but has not paid the ailing facility.

This was revealed recently in a report by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Welfare on the 2012 Budget allocation for the ministry.

Presenting the report, Zvishavane MP Obert Matshalaga, told the House of Assembly Natpharm was poorly managed and undercapitalised, with poor infrastructure and medicine storage facilities.

“There was one worrying feature of the Budget, particularly in the procurement of drugs where we were pleasantly surprised that about 98% of the drugs in this country are donor-funded and only 2% are provided for in the Budget,” said Matshalaga.

“We discovered that Natpharm is a government medical store though it is struggling and the Ministry of Health has consumed almost all the drugs from Natpharm up to $3, 65 million, but has not paid Natpharm, resulting in the medical stores struggling.”

The committee said there was need to reduce high dependency on donor drugs.

“We did visit Natpharm and we were surprised that the problem was more to do with the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Finance than with Natpharm, and we urge shareholders to ensure that at least three-fifths of the Budget is paid at least this year to finance them,” read the report.

The committee said they would want Natpharm recapitalised as the building where they are operating from was now dilapidated and had leaking roofs.

“The building needs a special roof that is supposed to keep the heat out, but it is sagging and there was some liquid that was leaking from it.

“The medicines are, however, kept on pallets so that when water leaks through, it does not affect the medicines.

“We also discovered that the coldroom there, meant to keep the medicine and serve the nation, was leaking in most parts and needs refurbishment,” said Matshalaga.