BY VENERANDA LANGA
THE Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe (MCAZ) has taken the issue of abuse of cough mixture syrups such as Bron Cleer to Sadc, saying that the abuse of substances was affecting the region as a whole, Parliament was told yesterday.
This was revealed by MCAZ director-general Gugu Mahlangu when she appeared before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health. She also told MPs that 700 pharmacies were registered in 2018.
MCAZ registers and regulates human and veterinary medicines, and they also register complimentary medicines such as natural traditional ones, medical gloves and condoms, as well as regulate imports and exports of medicines.
“Yes, we are aware that there are licit and illicit drugs being sold on the street, and this has become increasingly so to the extent that some drugs are leaking from public institutions onto the streets, and there is also importation of undeclared drugs,” Mahlangu said.
“We are working with the police to carry out blitzes at border posts and we assist them to vet the medicines, but we have no mandate to go to the streets and make arrests. It is the mandate of the Zimbabwe Republic Police to arrest people trading illicitly in drugs.”
Hurungwe Central MP Dought Ndiweni (Zanu PF) suggested that the police and MCAZ must conduct blitzes on illicit drug vendors, just as the law enforcers do with fruit and vegetable vendors.
“Our solution is that for medicines like Bron Cleer, which are abused, (let us) try and cut supplies or to enforce that they are only bought at pharmacies with prescriptions to curb abuse. We have taken this to the Sadc platform so that they do something to curb abuse because the problem is not only affecting Zimbabwe, but the whole of Sadc, and in Zambia, Botswana and South Africa, it is a problem now,” Mahlangu said.
Asked by Proportional Representation MP Perseverance Zhou (Zanu PF) to explain if the MCAZ was taking measures to register traditional medicines, Mahlangu said traditional medicine practitioners did not seem keen to register their medicines.
“However, we now have a new avenue for registering of complimentary medicines (natural), and we have made inroads with one manufacturer who was manufacturing from his garage, but our inspectors said he must find proper premises to do that,” she said.
“Now he has found premises in Murewa. The challenges with complimentary medicines is that we do not know their therapeutic consequences.”
Mahlangu said Prophetic Healing and Deliverance Ministries leader Walter Magaya’s Aguma was brought in through the back door, apparently from a local root, but the studies were done in India and not with the MCAZ.