FORMER War Veterans minister and ex-Makokoba legislator Tshinga Dube recently came face to face with the desperation many Zimbabweans face after a pharmacy demanded that he pays for his medication in United States dollars.
BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
The country is facing a serious drugs shortage, with some medical aid societies, private health institutions and pharmacies now demanding payment in US dollars or the black market price of the green back in bond notes or electronic transfer.
The Pharmaceutical Wholesalers’ Association (PWA) said this was because drug suppliers were now demanding payment upfront for new orders after the suspension of credit orders over an outstanding $27 million debt.
Dube, who is also the Zanu PF deputy finance secretary, said the experience made him appreciate the challenges that many ordinary people have been going through.
“I personally went to a pharmacy to get some drugs, but failed to purchase any as they demanded foreign currency. I had ordered the drugs, but upon producing my bank card to make a payment, they flatly refused any electronic payment, insisting I settle my bill with the USD, which I didn’t have,” Dube said.
He was speaking to journalists on the side-lines of a health expo held at Jairos Jiri centre in Nguboyenja high-density suburb on Saturday.
“I then asked myself that if I can have this kind of a problem, what about the disadvantaged or those that are unemployed, who are desperate for life-saving drugs, but cannot access them because they do not have any US dollars?” he asked.
“The situation is very desperate and it is this status quo that pressurised me to have this health expo, realising that there are many amongst us who are sick, but cannot be treated because of lack of drugs and foreign currency.”
The health expo, organised by the former Makokoba legislator, saw nurses and doctors providing free treatment to the sick. This was not the first time that Dube has organised a health expo for the constituency.
The pharmaceutical sector blames government for the drugs shortage, arguing the sector continues to be allocated insignificant monies for the importation of drugs to normalise the situation. The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) yesterday said it had availed a further US$3,3millon towards the importation of drugs, in addition to the US$6,7million released last week.