There appears to be light at the end of the tunnel on the issue of shortage of drugs in public healthcare service facilities as the country has chalked an agreement with one of the world’s biggest pharmaceutical companies, Pfizer, to be supplying quality drugs that are used in the United States and Europe at a no profit-making price.
Malawi is one of the first five countries to benefit from the programme, called Accord for a Healthier World, which Pfizer announced recently.
The other countries are Rwanda, Ghana, Senegal and Uganda.
Ministry of Health spokesperson Chikumbe Adrian said the deal will significantly improve the country’s drug stocks.
“Production of medical supplies slowed down for some time because of Covid; as such, they decided to reduce what they export so that they can take care of their people first and, also, we buy medical supplies from middlemen. We flight tenders and, then, people bid and supply to Central Medical Stores Trust. Since they also need to make a profit from what they supply to us, the prices are high.
“With this agreement with Pfizer, we will be able to get more medicine with the same money because they are going to be cheaper and the second benefit is that at least we are assured that we will be having quality medicines from a certified supplier, unlike [when we use] middlemen. The middlemen are also having challenges with forex, which is difficult to get at the moment, but, if we are buying directly as government, it will be easier,” he said.
He assured of the safety of the drugs the country will be getting from the deal, saying, locally, the Pharmacy Medicines and Poisons Regulatory Authority will be on guard, checking the quality as they do with all the drugs that come into the country.
President Lazarus Chakwera broke the news of the deal in his address on the occasion of Africa Day last week.
Health rights advocate Maziko Matemba challenged the government to take full advantage of the deal to boost the country’s dwindling drug stocks with quality drugs.
He said Pfizer, being one of the big pharmaceutical companies, manufacturers a wide range of quality drugs including Covid vaccines.
Mathews Kasanda is a journalist who holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from University of Malawi (The Polytechnic).
In 2015, Media Institute of Southern Africa awarded him the Best Print Media Education Journalist of the Year accolade.
He joined Times Group Newsroom in September 2019.