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Foreign exchange shortage affects drug suppliers

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Mark Botomani

The problem of forex shortage has forced some local drug suppliers to fail to meet their drug threshold at the Central Medical Stores Trust (CMST), a senior official has said.

CMST Chief Executive Officer Chikaiko Chadzunda told the Public Accounts Committee (Pac) of Parliament yesterday that the suppliers were even failing to reach 50 percent of their thresholds.

CMST imports about 40 percent of medical drugs it needs.

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Chadzunda, however, said, on its part, the Reserve Bank of Malawi has been providing forex.

“Sometimes some suppliers are meeting challenges simply because they are claiming that, maybe at that particular [point in] time, they do not have forex,” he said.

He, however, assured the committee that the country has enough drugs.

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CMST officials also told committee members that procurement processes were talking long to conclude because they involve other offices and that, in some cases, it takes up to nine months, which sometimes affects the availability of drugs.

Pac Chairperson Mark Botomani said it was worrying that some suppliers were failing to meet their thresholds due to forex challenges.

“This is a very serious issue. I thought the government should have been prioritising the procurement of drugs,” Botomani said.

Meanwhile, CMST has said it has, so far, received K17.5 billion for recaptalisation from the government.

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