The prevailing shortages of essential medicines in Zimbabwe’s major hospitals is a result of economic sanctions imposed on the country by the US, Britain and their western allies, Leader of Government Business in Parliament Ziyambi Ziyambi has said.
The Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs minister said this while responding to legislators during the Question and Answer Session in the National Assembly on Wednesday last week.
Ziyambi acknowledged that Zimbabwe was facing challenges in the health sector attributing drug shortages to the country’s economic struggles, which have been exacerbated by the economic sanctions.
“We used to have functional pharmaceutical companies that supplied us with medication but we were then slapped with sanctions.
“However, with the advent of the second republic, President Mnangagwa got into an agreement with Egypt so that they provide us with medicine."
“The Egyptian (government) has built warehouses so that they can store the medicine once they start supplying. In the meantime, we are getting our medicine from Egypt,” Ziyambi said.
Opposition legislators from the Citizens Coalition for Change demanded that government should visit the country’s hospitals to assess the situation.
During pre-budget meetings, Health and Child Care minister Douglas Mombeshora said Zimbabwe was facing a serious shortage of medicine and drugs at public hospitals which left patients at the mercy of private health facilities.
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He said the unavailability of medicine was depressing.
“Our ministry acknowledges that the country is facing a serious shortage of medicine and drugs, which is culminating in a crisis, especially at the lower level and has left patients at the mercy of private hospitals,” Mombeshora said.
In 1985, the World Health Organisation declared that the Zimbabwe healthcare system was among the best in the developing world.
The situation has, however, deteriorated with some hospitals operating without painkillers.
Critics say underfunding and corruption have left the sector in an unhealthy situation.