SOCIAL justice, gender equality and poverty eradication advocates ActionAid Zimbabwe has said taxes and tariffs on essential drugs needed for the treatment of sexually transmitted illnesses (STIs) must be scrapped.
ActionAid made the call following revelations that one of Harare City Council-run health centres, Tariro Polyclinic is facing a serious shortage of drugs, resulting in drug resistance among patients.
In its recommendations, ActionAid said drug shortages placed patients at risk.
“The increased cases of family planning-related ailments and complications caused by STIs ranging from 10 and 15 cases being recorded daily has seen Tariro Clinic not being able to meet the rising demand for drugs,” ActionAid said in its report.
“The community indicated that the impacts of essential drug stock-outs have put the lives of people, especially young people in danger. Most youths being vulnerable to STIs, non-availability of some essential drugs complicates their already vulnerable position, resulting in some resorting to traditional herbs, while others die in silence because of stigma and discrimination associated with such diseases and failure to have money to afford the cost of accessing medical services.”
ActionAid called for essential drugs like family planning pills and those for STIs to be freely accessible to the public.
“The need to realise that robust national investment in access to health as indicated in the Constitution of Zimbabwe, Public Health Act and Sustainable Development Goal, is critical towards ensuring a healthy population. In support of these efforts we recommend eliminating taxes and tariffs for essential drugs and making them available for free to the public.
“We also recommend accountability in the utilisation of the Health Service Fund with 20% being allocated towards health service delivery. In the name of corporate social responsibility Irvine’s and Boka should make contributions to drug stocks at Tariro Polyclinic,” ActionAid further recommended.
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Tariro Clinic is in Hopley, a peri-urban district located on the outskirts of Harare with a population of 20 000.
Hopley is characterised by poor infrastructure and high levels of unemployment
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